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Role of an Effective Mediator

Herb Silber is a graduate of the Harvard School of Negotiation Mediation Program

Mediation is a form of alternative dispute resolution which aims to assist disputing parties in reaching an agreement through the use of a trained third party facilitator.  The process differs from arbitration in that resolution at mediation must be brought about by achieving a voluntary consensus between the parties. On the other hand, in an arbitration, although the decision to engage in the process may or may not be voluntary, the result is a legally binding decision.

Mediators therefore play a unique function in that they must be skilled in bringing about a consensus between the disputing parties.   There are a number of roles that an effective mediator will have to assume during the course of a mediation.  These include:
* Facilitation.
* Translation of the parties’ positions.
* Transmissions of facts that the parties may be unaware of.
* Making sure that the parties focus on their interests rather than getting bogged down on their positions.
* Working with the parties to discover or create options.
* Where required, bringing a “dose of reality” to the parties.

In coming postings on this blog, I will examine and provide more information on each of the elements of the mediator’s role as I have set out above.   I hope that my analysis will be of assistance to parties contemplating alternatives to resolving their disputes through traditional adjucative processes.

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