Most people DON’T think that mediation will work for them. They are skeptical about trying to talk things out one more time. Most don’t trust the other person. They think, “If we were going to be able to talk things out, we would have DONE that already. We’re past that. Communication is worse than ever now.”
Doubt is common.
However, over two thirds of the people who mediate small claims cases `reach agreement on all or most of the issues. Most of them are surprised.
Skepticism and doubt are common initially. But they don’t predict what will happen, since so many people reach agreement.
What is it about mediation that works?
People are curious.
When parties arrive at mediation, communication has usually broken down. They frequently haven’t spoken to each other directly in weeks or months.
They want to be heard.
Often, parties have something they want to say to the other party. They come to mediation wanting that opportunity.
They have questions they want answered.
Often, misunderstandings are cleared up in mediation.
They want the situation resolved.
Things feel out of control and they want to have a say in their situation.
Even when they are doubtful, most people hope they can use mediation to make their own decisions.
What else works about mediation?
The mediation process itself….
In mediation, people get to talk together. Without mediation, most people would have no other opportunity to simply sit down and talk together. At the very least, mediation provides that opportunity.
In general, when people can talk face to face in a neutral setting, they feel heard by the other, they hear new information, and they often clear up misunderstandings that have exacerbated their situation. This often sets the stage for better talking and listening than they have had in a long time. People usually gain a greater understanding of themselves, each other, and their situation. That in itself is a remarkable benefit.
In fact, parties often benefit even when they reach no agreement. For example, a woman leaving a mediation session recently stated that she was glad they had mediated, even though they had only reached agreement on one issue. “I had a chance to tell him some things I haven’t been able to say before this.”
Mediation: It's your solution.