Preparing for Mediation

Preparing for Mediation: A Practical Guide

The secret to mediation success is preparation.

Successful people—in athletics, the arts, education, or business—do not leave outcomes to chance. They prepare for success. You can, too. This easy-to-use guide prepares you to make sound decisions during dispute resolution, leading to successful outcomes.

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About the Book

If you are an attorney you will find Preparing for Mediation an invaluable tool for helping your clients realize the greatest possible benefit from alternative dispute resolution.

If you are a party to a dispute this guide will help you work more efficiently with your attorney to achieve the best possible outcome.

If you are a mediator you can use this guide to educate parties and facilitate their journey through the steps of mediation.

Preparing for Mediation

  • Takes “win win” to a new level.
  • Helps you satisfy your interests.
  • Helps you achieve success in conflict resolution.
  • Arrive at mediation calm, confident, and prepared to satisfy your interests.
  • Do not abandon success simply because you were unprepared.
  • Do not leave the best possible resolution on the table.

Table of Contents

Opening Remarks
Introduction to Conflict
Mediator Selection
Responses to Conflict
Your Story
Assessing Conflict
Faulty Perceptions
Discovery: Litigation versus Mediation
Managing Deception
The Hostile Party
Mining for Interests
Making Decisions
Managing Power
Use of Power
Closing Remarks

Book Excerpts

  • from Chapter Two: Introduction to Conflict

    While negotiation regarding substantive issues (deal points) plays a central role in mediation, re-negotiating the relationship is often just as important. The manner in which parties treated one another is frequently an issue that needs to be resolved.

    from Chapter Three: Convening

    Parties often fear their agreement to convene is a commitment to settle on terms they do not fully accept. The mediator allays this fear by stressing the voluntary nature of the process; he assures them he does not intend to force a resolution. He will facilitate a resolution the parties can agree on or everyone can walk away. He explains mediation is voluntary and the risks low.

    from Chapter Eight: Faulty Perceptions

    During mediation we test our perceptions while we listen closely to discover how the other perceives us. Discovering the character we play in their movie allows us to renegotiate our role. Initially, it can be startling to discover how our adversary sees us—the character we play in their drama is not who we know ourselves to be.


  • from Chapter Eight: Faulty Perceptions

    A mediation approach calls for balance: we build walls needed for safety and destroy walls that serve no purpose. The mediator facilitates transformation of walls into bridges.

    from Chapter Thirteen: Revenge

    Frequently we take no action but we obsessively entertain thoughts of revenge. Our imagination gives us little rest as we conjure images of the suffering or demise of our antagonist. The clash may have started out as a minor difference of opinion, a response to an inadvertent slight, or a response to annoying efforts to dominate, coerce, or ridicule. From these small seeds of disrespect conflict escalates to the point where it ruins our life, steals our happiness, and leaves us seething.

    from Chapter Thirteen: Revenge

    Revenge is an effort to make sure offenders “get it” and learn to care. We want the people who have hurt us to understand what they have done—in a visceral manner. We seek to “educate” offenders by causing them the pain they caused others. We attribute great importance to delivering the lesson “this is how you hurt me.” The desire is so strong we are willing to sacrifice our safety and tranquility for satisfaction.


  • from Chapter Fifteen: Mining for Interests

    Parties tend to focus on positions or “where we stand.” Positions or stances become rigid; parties remain locked in positional bargaining with little hope of a successful resolution. Disputants cling like wrestlers seeking an advantage, not daring to alter their stance, as the slightest imbalance will result in their being toppled. They appear frozen like statues. They can’t let go! The solution is to redirect the negotiation to focus on deeply-held interests.

    As a visual metaphor, imagine a horizontal line: above the line, we have positions; below, we have interests. Positions reflect our stance—where we stand. Below the line are interests that motivate our positions: they explain why we assume a position. The mediator may ask, “What interests does this position reflect?” Or, “What needs are you trying to satisfy by holding this position?”

    from Chapter Sixteen: Making Decisions

    Research shows people tend to be risk averse. If they are given an opportunity to risk a small certain gain for the chance to obtain a large gain, people usually decline. They walk away satisfied with the smaller gain. If they are assured of a $1000 gain, they hold on to their gain rather than risk the $1000 on a chance they might receive $3000.


  • from Chapter Sixteen: Making Decisions

    Mediation helps us embrace movement and flexibility. In a non-threatening setting we are free to “test drive” solutions. After we release the grip of the oppositional embrace we learn to dance rather than wrestle.

    from Chapter Twenty: Apology

    In the search for reconciliation, the mediator begins to construct a metaphorical bridge between the parties. At first he establishes a temporary bridge, then he facilitates construction of a bridge that will remain standing after his work is completed. Like a construction foreman, he helps parties locate building materials and provides a blueprint for a safe and secure bridge.

    from Chapter Twenty: Apology

    If we fail to express empathy the other party is not certain we truly “get it”—if we do not show we feel their hurt they may fear we are so insensitive we will again cause them pain in the future. If empathy is missing, the victim doubts the wisdom of collaboration; they do not see the point of working toward reconciliation. On the other hand, a sincere apology that expresses empathy assures them we see the world as they do — complete with hurt and humiliation. This sets the table for a possible collaboration.


  • from Chapter Twenty: Apology

    The apology may offer a truce, a willingness to cease hostilities, or can be a subtle concession implying “you were right and I was wrong.” We concede our wrongness in order to make it possible for the other party to come to the table; in most cases, we hope for a reciprocal concession.

    from Chapter Twenty-Two: Impasse

    The hidden destructive third party can be found in every walk of life and at every level of society. They are driven by fear-based paranoia: they fear they will be become an outcast if others enjoy loving relationships. They perceive the happiness of others as a threat. The young lady who fears she is inferior pits two friends against each other, covertly defending against being ostracized. She reduces the perceived threat by entangling others in conflict. In her mind, if her friends distrust one another, she benefits from increased attention and, conversely, if they enjoy a close relationship, she will be abandoned.

About the Author

Greg Stone

Greg Stone received his Masters in Dispute Resolution from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law. He is a trained mediator with experience working in the courts, where he assisted parties in their efforts to resolve conflicts.

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