Last week I attended a two day high school peer mediation training at CRU Institute . Nancy Kaplan, Institute Director, gave a quick test for whether a decision that is based on rules interpreted by an uninvolved third person is better, comparing it to litigation, or whether a decision made based on needs, interests and relationships by the people involved in the conflict is more appropriate, comparing it to mediation. The example she used was a baseball game….the game needs to go on, the decision needs to be quick and dirty, based on rules. In a baseball game future relationships, needs and interests, and feelings are not important; communication is not required and planning for the future is not considered. What is important is that the decision is made quickly so that the game can go on…..so the umpire or judge makes the decision immediately, based on rules, with no consideration of the players’ needs, interests or future relationship.
Ironically, mediation has the added benefit of usually being a much quicker process than litigation.
Debra Synovec, a Seattle-based mediator and lawyer, has mediated divorces for 20 years. She believes in empowering the parties to reach their own resolution.