The prevailing perception about someone proposing mediation is that the proposer is dealing from a position of weakness or urgency; that the proposing party is anxious to resolve the matter and is willing to do so at a discount or premium depending on which side the party is on. Rather, a proposal of mediation should be taken at face value, for what it plainly is, a proposal by the opposing party to informally resolve the dispute by a cost effective means. The proposal should not become an assumption that the proposer is weak, anxious, eager or willing to severely compromise his or her prior position. Such assumptions, or overly optimistic expectations, only set up the mediation and the parties for failure. If you engage in mediation based on these assumptions you will only be disappointed by the outcome, the result will always fail to meet your expectations and you will have squandered a good opportunity to resolve the case. An invitation to mediate should be understood as an invitation to discuss the dispute, narrow the issues and compromise. Rather than perceived “weakness”, a proposal of mediation shows confidence and an open-minded approach to resolution. My experience is that mediation works best for those parties who enter into mediation with reasonable expectations, a willingness to listen and share, and with an objective of compromise.
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