Preparing For Mediation – It is Not As Scary As You Think

So, you have the dubious pleasure of being involved in a court case and the judge ordered you to mediation? Even if you have an attorney, he or she may federal workers comp attorneys or may not have explained it to you. Well, there are two basic questions that people often want to know: what is it, and how do you get ready for it?
To start, the judge is not ordering you to sit cross-legged on the floor and say “ohm.” That would be meditation, and while that may be beneficial to your overall state of mind, it probably won’t resolve your case. Mediation, simply defined, is a confidential process in which a trained, impartial third party — the mediator — helps two or more parties to a dispute move towards a mutually acceptable agreement. Even more simply put, the mediator’s job is to help people have difficult conversations. What the judge is ordering you to do, therefore, is to sit down with a mediator and the other party and try to work things out. The mediator doesn’t get to make any decisions or tell you what to do. In mediation you decide whether you are going to agree, and if so what your agreement will look like. The mediator just helps you work through it.
The key to a successful outcome in mediation is good preparation. Below are eight things you can do to get ready. If you have an attorney, have her help you think through them.
1. Decide Whether You Want a Settlement or a Resolution.
Do you want a long-term resolution, or do you just want to get the darn case settled? Think about the nature of your relationship with the other party. How long have you known each other? What is the nature of the relationship? Do you want the relationship to continue? With there be some form of continuing relationship whether you want it or not? Unfortunately, sometimes friends, family, neighbors, longtime business associates, etc., sue each other. If your case involves one of these, you may want to consider seeking a more long-lasting resolution. If your case involves a one-time transaction and you will never see those people again, you may just want to get an agreement for the sake of getting the case out of your hair.
2. Know What it is You Want and Why
Decide what you want the outcome of the case to be. Why do you want that outcome? What is it you really need? Where do you want to be a week from now? A month from now? A year from now? If you don’t know what your needs are, you probably won’t meet them.
3. Make an Educated Guess About What the Other Party Wants and Why
What is it that the other party says they want? What do they really want? Think about what needs they are trying to meet.
4. Know Your Alternatives
Identify all the potential ways you could meet your own needs without reaching agreement with the other party. Think about the possible outcomes if you should go to trial. Discuss them with your attorney if you have one. What is the best possible outcome you could get without coming to an agreement? What is the worst possible outcome? Most importantly, what is community law waikato nz the most likely outcome if you don’t get an agreement with the other party? Knowing your alternatives helps you make decisions on mediation. If the offer on the table is not as good as the worst outcome you could get on your own, then you probably don’t want to take it. If it is as good or better than the most likely outcome, then you may want to make a deal.
5. Be Prepared with Some Options.
Be prepared with some proposals going in. Make sure those proposals take into account the needs and interests of the other party. If they don’t feel like their needs are getting met too, then they are not going to take your offer. Nobody likes an agreement that completely favors the other side. Remember that O.P.T.I.O.N.S stands for “Only Possibilities That Include Others’ Needs Succeed.”
6. Be Prepared to Set the Tone
Think about what you are going to say and how you are going to say it in a non-threatening manner. Try not to attack or blame, but to frame the issues as a joint challenge to resolve together. Even if you truly believe the other party is at fault, a combative tone never makes for productive negotiation.
7. Be Creative
Don’t get set on only one possible outcome. There are usually many possible solutions that will meet your needs and the needs of the other party. While not always possible, the best outcome is a “win-win” for both parties. This takes a little bit of creativity. Try to keep an open mind without compromising your core values.
8. Be Realistic
Often, two people will go into court both thinking that they are going to win. You know what? One or both of them are wrong, and I can almost guaranty that one or both of them will leave a trial unhappy. That is the nature of our adversarial legal system. Someone has to lose. Sometimes everybody does. While it may be comforting to think that “justice will prevail,” our individual conception of justice sometimes doesn’t. Remember that a court trial is not about who is right or wrong. It is about the law. The judge or jury must decide what relief, if any, you are entitled to under the law. Likewise, don’t expect mediation to solve all your problems. The mediator can’t “make” the other party behave the way you want. Just try to get the best outcome you can with available options and resources.
Mediation can be stressful and emotional — you’re talking about some important issues — but it need not be terrifying. If you are prepared, it can be successful and satisfying. Statistically, the odds are in your favor. Depending on your jurisdiction, settlement rates usually range between 60-80%. So, be prepared, and good luck!

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