Preparation: Programming Your Mediation for Success
The context: We live in a busy world. There are constant demands on our time and attention, professionally and personally. Mediation is an opportunity to focus and reflect upon one matter, for a limited time, in neutral surroundings, with some supportive assistance. Here you and your client can retain some control over the outcome, making better informed decisions. Preparation makes a difference.
- Tailor the mediation to your case: Trust yourselves and engage the mediator in a flexible approach that suits both the matter and the parties. Do you have sufficient information to evaluate the matter? What are your objectives? Have you and client discussed expectations/ what happens in mediation? Have you developed a financial analysis of the case with your client? Do you anticipate problems that may interfere with getting together?
- Assess strengths and weaknesses: Be candid both with your case and your opponents'. How can you use the joint session to your best advantage? Have you organized the facts to persuade and influence the mediator and the other side?
- Prepare to listen: You and your client want to be heard, and listening to the other side may help you gain insight for points of agreement. Can you/your client suspend judgment and learn from the mediator or opponent, just as you expect them to listen to, and learn from you?
- Allow sufficient time: Mediation requires some patience and it is important to be clear about your intentions. Can you commit several hours to a process that may move more slowly than you had hoped?
- Anticipate the negotiation: Mediation is an extension of the negotiation process. Parties who identify a range of probable outcomes optimize their mediation results. Is your evaluation flexible? Have you left yourselves some room? Are you prepared to manage any liens?
- Briefing - an opportunity to persuade: A brief is an opportunity to influence an adversary (and educate the mediator). Timing can be important - delivery on the eve of the mediation can weaken its impact. Have you shared information in a timely manner in anticipation of the mediation?