What is Mediation?
It is Neutral
The mediator is a person outside the dispute that does not have any interests at stake. Neutrality is important, because during a mediation all parties need to have faith that the mediator is dedicated to the process for the sake of finding a mutually agreeable solution.
It is Voluntary
Even when people are forced into talks with a third party neutral they retain control over the outcome. This control over outcome is what makes Mediation different from Arbitration. In Arbitration once the parties send their dispute to a neutral arbitrator it is the arbitrator, not the parties, that makes the decision.
It is Private
It provides a safe place for all parties to discuss their interests and how they are compatible with the interests of the other parties to the mediation. Confidentiality is normally expressly covered in the agreement to mediate that the mediator asks the parties to sign. If your mediator does not include an express clause to ensure confidentiality consider asking your mediator to include one. This clause normally covers all materials created or discussions that happen at mediation.
It is a Process
It is a process that helps parties reach an agreement and always involves looking for what the parties truly value and finding ways to respect what each party values. With the help of a third party neutral the parties to a conflict are guided through a process that explores perspectives, interests, solutions and in some cases formulates ways to continue building the relationship between the parties.
It Creates Value
The parties and the mediator working through the process often find value that leaves all parties in a better position than they would have been otherwise.
It is Low Risk
Everyone who attends (even if they are forced in to mediation) is free to agree or not to any settlement and it is strictly confidential. That means that mediation has few risks outside of the time dedicated to the process.