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How Can a Party Prepare for Mediation?

Listening to clarify helps you verify the meaning intended by the other person speaking.

If there is the least doubt in your mind, you need to ask questions for clarification, such as:

  • "I'm not sure what you mean by..."
  • "Could you please clarify for me..."
  • "Please explain to me what you mean by..."

As a general rule in seeking clarification, it is better never to ask "why" questions. "Why" questions are often threatening and raise defenses because they confront the other person's judgment and motives.

The most important factor in the success of a mediation session is the intention of the parties to mediate in good faith. This means that each party is willing to listen to the other side, to keep an open mind, and to negotiate without holding to a fixed position. Both parties should make available at the mediation session any appropriate background information related to the dispute. And, both parties should be willing to reevaluate their positions based upon facts presented during the mediation.

The aggrieved person must give adequate thought to his/her opening statement. The opening statement should clearly outline, in the most logical way possible, the events or circumstances which led to this dispute. It may be helpful to write the statement in advance. The facts should be stated as perceived, and should include any interests and desired outcomes for resolving the dispute. He/she should avoid including information that is not relevant to the issues being mediated.

The party representing management must have authority to resolve the dispute. Prior to the mediation, he/she should contact the relevant servicing Human Resources office and the Department’s OGC to discuss any personnel related or legal issues, respectively, that might come up during the mediation. He/she should clearly understand the parameters of his/her authority. Should the proposed resolution exceed that authority, the management representative must be able to contact (during the mediation session) a senior level official to discuss and secure approval for the settlement terms.