Mediation works
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Everyone wants a peaceful relationship, and everyone who voluntarily opts for mediation desires a successful settlement of whatever dispute that exists.

However, the success of mediation largely depends on the parties since the mediator acts as an impartial facilitator to guide the two sides to reach a resolution.

In that regard, the conduct of the parties at mediation remains critical for the outcome, meaning that the parties need to be prepared for their participation in the mediation session.

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Although the mediator is required to inform parties at the pre-meeting about the procedures to be used, the individual parties have to prepare themselves for the process.

To be effectively prepared, an individual has to consider a number of factors.

These include the mediation process, the issues at stake, reliefs sought, options, communication, emotions, accompaniment, documentary evidence and confidentiality.

The mediation process

In spite of the fact that the mediator would inform the parties about the process, one must learn about the process by asking in advance of the pre-meeting. Since the processes differ among mediation centre, being aware of the process would help a party to prepare effectively.

Issues at stake

One has to thoroughly assess the things that need to be talked about at mediation. It will be necessary to write down the most important things to you and why they are important.

It is also necessary to assess the issues from the other party’s point of view, and what they may consider as important to them.

Reliefs sought

After the assessment of the important issues, you have to think and decide on what you aim to achieve from the mediation. Clarity on the desired outcome is needed to guide a party to navigate negotiations.

Regardless of the objective, whether a party is seeking a financial settlement, adherence to an agreement, mending of a relationship, vindication or an apology, it must be clearly determined by the party.

In doing so, one has to think about what the other party may want, as to whether their objective would be similar or vastly different.

Options for ending the dispute

After determining the issues, a party has to work out the options for ending the dispute. One has to be realistic and ask whether it is possible to get what you want.

For example, if it a financial settlement you want, assess whether the other party can pay the amount you will request, even if he would want to agree.

Also, think about the feasibility of the reliefs you seek and assess how much compromise you would want to offer.

Plan how to communicate

Communication is a critical determinant of the outcome of mediation. A party needs to decide how best to talk during the mediation.

A party should try not to speak angrily or criticise the other party since that may hinder a resolution. The GHOST principle is the protocol that guides parties to through a successful mediation process. Once parties voluntarily opted for mediation with the aim of achieving a peaceful settlement, the two sides must follow the GHOST principle and  should use neutral language.

For instance, instead of saying: “You deliberately made me angry and frustrated”.

You could say: “I was very angry and frustrated”.

Understand your emotions

It is understandable that a party may feel angry, hurt and upset or anxious about a dispute. However, a disputant needs to assess and put in writing how they feel about the dispute.

The essence of this assessment is because feelings or emotions may affect a party in the mediation. One has to plan for how to deal with those emotions during the process. For instance, if you become upset during the mediation session, you could ask the mediator for a break, explain your feelings to the other party and the mediator or ask to have a support person at the mediation. However , much of the work of the mediator is to use his professional skills to manage the high emotions of parties operating in the red zone and help them transition to the green zone where they can release relevant information that will aid the resolution process and relax and relate with the other party.

Accompaniment

As part of the information on the mediation procedure, you must find out whether you can allow someone to accompany you to the session.

Although the companion would not be allowed to take part in the mediation, that person might be of help in some situations, to offer emotional, physical or other support to an individual.

In other cases, you can have someone speak for you if you think you might not be able to represent yourself in mediation. You might also want to take along a lawyer who might speak for you or offer advice.

This will depend largely on the matter to be resolved and type of mediation to be employed. Normally if the issue at hand does not require much at stake and it is just an individual involved, then there may not be need for an accompaniment but in cases where the number of parties involve more than two, parties may need to seek authority from other members an even need them present in the process.

Documentary evidence

There is a need for a party to mobilise all essential documents and information relevant to the case. Although the mediator will not look at this evidence, it may be helpful to show the other side so they can appreciate your position. It will also help you to understand the strengths and weaknesses of your case.

Confidentiality

Confidentiality is paramount in mediation, and a party must be prepared to agree to the terms of confidentiality at the beginning of the session.

Where a party would have to use or disclose the agreement to others for any reason including business purposes, it should be indicated and agreed upon by both sides.

By: Nii Adotey/adrdaily.com

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ADR Daily is a specialized news portal with a focus on providing authentic news, information and research analysis on Appropriate Dispute Resolution (ADR), Human Resource Management (HRM) and Industrial Relations Management (IRM) in Ghana and beyond. This platform serves as an information resource base for the progress of the ADR, HRM and IRM industries, and seeks to promote professionalism in ADR practice by supporting a network of ADR professionals within and across nations and continents. ADR Daily keenly encourages the mass adoption of ADR mechanisms, particularly negotiation, mediation and arbitration for the resolution of disputes in all spheres, through the publication of industry news and information, as well as by deploying innovative awareness creation engagements.