Today for ABA Mediation Week 2014, we asked a few of our neutrals, “What is a particular obstacle you may come up against in mediation, and how do you manage it?” Their answers describe different strategies that a mediator can use to encourage alienated parties to openly negotiate.
Hon. Daniel Kelley, (Ret.) answered that sometimes parties have unreasonable expectations of the mediation process. According to Judge Kelley, parties often grow impatient with the process, or make impractical demands of the other side. In either case, the mediator is often tuned out. To overcome these obstacles, Judge Kelley recommends advising parties that the mediation process takes time, and that perhaps their case is not as strong as they think it is. By giving parties a reality check, a mediator can effectively encourage difficult parties to reevaluate their approach to the mediation process.
Hon. Jerome Orbach, (Ret.) replied that parties who have little experience with the legal system sometimes do not trust that their attorneys or the mediator have a clear understanding of their needs. This perceived lack of common ground can keep parties from fully listening to the mediator. To break down the barrier, Judge Orbach looks for commonalities with the parties. This can take the form of getting to know parties personally by sharing stories about families, interests or hobbies. By building a good rapport with distrusting parties, a mediator can more easily encourage them to openly negotiate with the other side.
For Judge Kelley’s bio, please click here.
For Judge Orbach’s bio, please click here.
To learn more about Mediation Week, click here.
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