Recently, I was talking with a colleague about mediations. He made a point that struck me: a bad mediation is worse than having no mediation at all.
I asked him to explain. He said that mediation provides the opportunity to settle a case. If the mediation is a bad one, the parties go backwards B they become more entrenched in their positions and become more determined not to settle but to go to trial. The very valuable opportunity to settle is now lost. There becomes nothing left to do but to arbitrate or try the case. That golden opportunity to settle has been lost; it has been thrown into the trash can.
My colleague went on: a good mediator gets into the complexity of the case, into its facts and works hard to earn each party=s trust. A good mediator brings her experience but not her ego to the mediation and knows how to walk this fine line. A good mediator focuses the mediation on the parties and resolving their dispute; not on herself. In sum, he explained, a good mediation has everything to do with having a good mediator and yet, at the same time, has nothing to do with the mediator.
So… the next time you find yourself selecting a mediator, ask your colleagues and yourself whether the candidate is a mediator that focuses on the parties, their dispute and on resolving it, or is the mediator one whose ego gets in the way. Does the mediator have sufficient background and experience that she brings to the mediation, yet, at the same time, knows how to focus the parties on their dispute and not on her background and experience ? Does she know how to walk this very fine line of being able to conduct the mediation but yet, not be a part of it? Is she one who is trying to earn the trust and confidence of the parties so that she can ultimately help make their (and not her) day a better one? Does she follow the philosophy that the mediation has everything to do about her, yet, has nothing to do about her?
….. Just something to think about.