The previous blog post focused on what the parties can expect from me as a mediator. This installment focuses on what I expect from the parties to a mediation.
As you might expect, first and foremost I expect the parties to be honest with themselves and with me during the process. This applies to any lawyers involved as well. Honesty includes assessing BOTH the strengths and weaknesses of their claim or dispute. It is helpful I believe to sit down in advance and write down both on a sheet of paper and bring that with you to the mediation. Honest assessment of your claim is crucial to success.
Second, and along those same lines I expect the parties to be prepared. Preparation starts with the honest assessment referenced above. It also includes having the documents that you necessarily need to prove your claim or establish a claim of damages. Bring the documentation with you to the mediation and exchange it with the other party well before the mediation is scheduled. Seeing documentation for the first time during mediation is not conducive to the process. Provide that documentation at least a week in advance.
Third, be willing and able to give a good faith effort to come to a full agreement on the issues in dispute. Mediations can be hard work and take a toll on all involved. Understand that, like anything else in life, the more effort you expend the better the result that will likely be achieved.
Fourth, be willing to listen to the other side, communicate with the other side and hear their feelings about the dispute. This can be difficult for some people. When I was defending lawsuits often times the hardest part for me and my clients was sitting while the other side presented their side of the case without being able to immediately chime in and respond. You will get your opportunity to present your side and your feelings so don’t get so caught up in thinking of your response that you forget to actively listen to what the other side is saying.
Finally, I expect the parties to behave in an adult manner, and be respectful of every person in the room. Be patient as well. Mediation is usually a marathon not a sprint.
As always, please contact me if there are any questions or if I can help you with your dispute.