Mediation can be a contentious process. We, as mediators, do everything we can to help achieve a lasting agreement, but one of the most significant factors can be the mindset of the participants. In this blog post, I will recommend a few ways to help achieve success in mediation. Not all of these will work for everyone, but they can be valuable strategies to keep in mind. As always, the main goal of mediation is coming to an agreement that allows both parties to move forward financially and emotionally.
Focusing on the Future
The past is often exactly why mediation is necessary, but it can also be the very reason why mediation fails. Understandably, it can be challenging to set aside the past during mediation, but moving towards a resolution is the primary goal of mediation. Often that necessitates looking forward instead of behind. It is, naturally, okay to acknowledge what has happened, but an effective mediator will help to redirect the conversation in a more positive direction where progress can be made. There can be situations where the past needs to be discussed first, but the hope is always to focus on his this can help both parties move forward.
To quote the Sufi mystic Rumi, “Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and right-doing, there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”
Preparation can go a long way towards making mediation a success. Your mediator will undoubtedly be prepared, but there are also steps to take beforehand. It helps to have a good idea of what to expect from the other party and your mediator. Anticipating and understanding the other side’s point of view is not always the easiest thing to do, especially in divorce mediation, but it can go a long way towards achieving a successful result. Understanding does not have to mean agreement. Instead, it can be useful in anticipating the other side’s arguments and concerns through empathetic reasoning. Through understanding the opposite side’s perspective, each side can be better prepared for what is to come during discussions with their mediator.
It is also important to prepare for contentious issues. Now and then, mediation is smooth sailing, but more often, there are one or two issues that can be, understandably, sticking points for both sides. Preparing for this substantively and emotionally can go a long way towards success.
Be Open to Compromise
One of the best indicators of success in mediation is the willingness of the parties to compromise. The goal of mediation is to find a lasting agreement that both sides can accept, and this typically requires compromise. It can help, as part of your preparation, to consider where you are willing to compromise (and where you are unwilling to do so). It is ok to have points you are reluctant to bend on. Mediation is a give and take, so it is essential to take time beforehand to decide where you can give and where you can’t. Come to mediation, prepared, and open to compromise where you can, and you are more likely to achieve success.
If you would like to speak with one of our mediators, contact West Coast Family Mediation Center to schedule your free consultation today!