Us VS Them

What is mediation?

The term mediation broadly refers to any instance in which a third party helps others reach agreement. More specifically, mediation has a structure, timetable and dynamics that ordinary negotiation lacks. The process is private and confidential, possibly enforced by law. Participation is typically voluntary. The mediator acts as a neutral third party and facilitates rather than directs the process. Quoted from Wikipedia.

NVC mediation is even broader than the Wikipedia definition. In NVC Mediation, mediation can be:

  • Internal
  • Self-Other/Interpersonal
  • Informal
  • Formal

Internal would be where I am doing something and I would like to change. For example, say I smoke and would like to quit and I am having trouble quitting. Part of me wants to quit and part of me wants to continue smoking.
Self-Other/Interpersonal is when I am a party to a conflict. I would use my NVC skills to bring connection to the conflict in the hope that all parties needs are addressed and respected.
Informal, also called buttinsky mediation, is when I act as the third party between two people in conflict without having been given their permission. This might occur at a family gathering where there is an argument about who gets to inherit grandma's 3 carat diamond ring.
Formal mediation is what is referred to in the Wikipedia paragraph above. This would be when I have permission from all parties involved in the dispute to act as mediator.

Typical cost of litigated divorce:
Grand Total $73,550*
Typical cost of mediated divorce:
Grand Total $6,750*
From the book, Using Divorce Mediation by Barbara E. Stoner
*Assumes mediator at $200/hr, Attorneys at $250/hr

Link to article on cost of Small Claims court vs mediation.

Who would use mediation?

Someone who:

  • wants all parties interests addressed
  • wants a say in the final solution
  • wants to maintain or create a healthy relationship with the other party(s)
  • wants to avoid the expense of litigation
  • wants to overcome trained incapacities which interfere with conflict resolution
  • wants to learn a new way of communicating and dealing with conflict

What does mediation work well for??

  • Divorce
  • Family conflicts
    • Marital conflict
    • Parenting
    • Elderly Parents
  • Neighbor conflicts
  • Business conflicts
    • internal (within company)
    • external (other companies)
    • customer relations (bills/service issues)
  • Instead of filing a lawsuit
  • How to choose a mediator

Who would not use mediation?

Someone who:

  • believes he/she has the power and is not willing to give it up
  • believes he/she will win in litigation (this is never a sure thing)
  • is not concerned about the other party
  • the expense of litigation is not a concern
  • is afraid of physical or verbal violence from the other party

Who would use mediation? (Explained) Anyone who would like to resolve a conflict from a position of empowerment for all parties with input from all parties involved. In mediation you decide what solution is acceptable to you. If you use litigation or arbitration then you will have your solution chosen by a third party. Another reason to use a mediator to help solve a conflict situation, is that bringing in a third party changes the dynamic of the interaction. A third party is not attached to a particular outcome and does not have a history of interacting with the parties. From my personal experience with NVC, I have discovered that the more history I have with a person, the more difficult it is for me to be empathic and compassionate during conflict (especially if there is frequent conflict with that individual.)

Another reason a mediator is very helpful is dealing with trained incapacities (see sidebar.) We think we know how to handle conflict when the strategy we use to deal with the conflict is very unlikely to lead us to our goals.

This begs the other question, who would not want to use mediation? If you believe there is an imbalance of power, the person with more power is not likely to mediate. An example of this would be a wealthy person who married someone without much money and there was a prenuptial agreement. For their divorce the wealthy person will not be interested in mediation, since he or she has more control over the outcome and would most likely see mediation as a way to give up control and power.

There are more situations where mediation may not be best. If violence has been an issue mediation most likely will not work. If either party is involved with drug or alcohol abuse and is not involved in rehabilitation, mediation may not be a good choice. If one party has lied about anything important the need for trust may not be met enough for mediation to work. If one party has much more knowledge about important information, such as in a divorce where one spouse has had control over all the finances and has made all the financial decisions. This situation can also apply to businesses where one partner has had exclusive control over financial matters. None of these situations can't be mediated, some effort by the parties would be required to be ready for mediation.

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