Mediation is a structured and confidential process intended to assist in the resolution of a dispute or conflict between two or more parties (i.e. individuals or groups). The process is guided or managed by an impartial person, usually referred to as the mediator.
The parties who choose to resolve their dispute through mediation (usually referred to as “participants”) are responsible for defining or identifying the issues they want to resolve. The participants are also responsible to determine outcome, whether or not they are able to reach a final settlement, and what the specific points of agreement will be.
The mediator’s role is limited to managing the process; the mediator does not give advice, pass judgement, or determine outcome.
The mediation process is strictly voluntary, and, in most cases, confidential. Be sure to obtain clarification what confidentiality means and how it may apply in your situation from the mediator, or your lawyer, before you decide whether mediation is right for you.
Mediation can be effective to resolve issues and minimize costs (i.e. monetary and psychological) associated with unresolved conflict.
A skilled mediator can uncover and help participants address the underlying issues that often serve to complicate and fuel disputes. Underlying issues may include unidentified or unmet needs, concerns, grievances, or fears that often exist in disputes where there is a relationship between the participants. Finding resolution is particularly critical in situations where it is necessary for the disputants to continue to deal with each other after the dispute has been resolved.
An additional benefit of mediation is that it may serve to teach the participants new approaches and skills related to communication and problem-solving. These skills can be carried over into the participants’ day-to-day dealings with each other or others in the future.
Where can I find a mediator if I need one?
Family Mediation Manitoba Inc. publishes a Directory of Mediators, which lists mediators who are members of the association, and indicates their qualifications.
For other resources, please consult the following:
Although mediation is an unregulated profession, there are a number of qualified mediators with certification or accreditation that can help. Mediators who belong to mediation and conflict resolution organizations are often certified in their field of practice. They are also subject to professional rules of conduct and discipline.
Mediation fees vary from agency to agency and between mediators. Some mediation services are available free of charge. Persons looking for mediation services are entitled to information about fees in advance.
You are the content expert. That means that you have to come prepared to tell your story and to share what you are hoping for from this process.
In most cases, the mediator will want to meet with you individually to hear your perspective and to get a better understanding of what the issues are. This is your opportunity to share what you need from the process and what you are hoping for as an outcome.
The goal of mediation is to build understanding between parties so that they arrive at solutions that meet their needs.