If you have an upcoming mediation session, you’re probably wondering how to prepare for it and nervous about what to expect. That’s to be expected, and we want to give you a little bit of framework and some questions to think through as you prepare mentally and emotionally.
To begin with, we’d like to encourage you again with the fact that mediation has consistently proved to be an effective approach to finding a more satisfying and equitable way forward for all parties involved in a conflict. You’ve made a good decision in choosing to pursue mediation, and if, for some reason, mediation doesn’t provide the necessary resolution, you always have the safety net of pursuing a court trial. There is, however, good reason to expect a beneficial outcome from mediation.
Next, we want to offer you a couple of pointers for establishing your mental and emotional readiness for the session.
Gather all the documentation that has any sort of relevance to the dispute–financial statements, contracts, photos, voicemails, written matter, etc and give them to your attorney before the mediation so he can prepare for the mediation date. Sorting through all this information and talking through it with another person ahead of time will help you develop concreteness and clarity in the scope of the issue and elements of it that can be addressed from an objective and documentable point of view.
Have firm ideas of your own needs, options, and desirable resolution scenarios, but don’t approach the mediation with a predetermined set of ultimatums or non-negotiable expectations. An important goal in preparation should be to enter the mediation process confident enough in one’s own understanding of the situation to be open to other participants’ points of view and to options that may arise in the course of the mediation process. Cultivate an awareness of things that you personally would do differently, if you had a chance to do over. This will help you think more creatively and flexibly about potential ways to move forward.
Take time to consider what might come up that would trigger you emotionally in a way that might make it difficult to continue the conversation and how you can equip yourself to field those snares. Also consider what might provoke the other party and how to navigate their triggers.
Be prepared to listen! Practicing respectful and active listening will allow you enable you to pick up on key information, perspectives, and opportunities that you might otherwise miss. Listening intentionally helps you stay alert and flexible while setting a respectful tone that makes you look reasonable and credible.
Make sure all the information is on the table, so the mediator has all the facts. It’s better to over-communicate than to make assumptions.
Finally, here are some questions to think through. You won’t be asked these questions verbatim, necessarily, but these are the types of dialogues you can expect to encounter. You might find it helpful to practice articulating your answers with a close friend or trusted advisor.
What is the core relational or value issue for you?
What factors are outside the control of anyone involved in the case?
If there were no limiting factors, what would you really like to talk through at the mediation?
Which real-life, practical details are creating the most angst for you in this situation?
How do you want to feel when the session is over? What would the best case scenario feel like? What would the worst case scenario feel like?
How would the other party explain the conflict?
Are there clearly identifiable core value differences or points of agreement/disagreement between you and the other party?
Will there be continuing interactions or relationship with the other party after the dispute is resolved? Are there guidelines that need to be established surrounding that?
If it seems impossible to reach an agreement in mediation, what are the most likely resolution alternatives from a court decision? (Your attorney can advise you on this.)
Are the risks of going to court and having the negotiation taken completely out of your hands worth it?
We realize that you may still have specific questions, concerns, or fears regarding mediation. If that’s the case, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. We are here to help you with your personal injury or your workers’ compensation claim. Give us a call for your free consultation at 770-800-7000.