Fact Sheet on Mediation

Mediation is a confidential process in which an impartial third party (the mediator) facilitates communication between disputing parties with a view to assisting them to reach a mutually acceptable outcome to the conflict.  The process requires that the parties involved commit to full and complete participation.

The purpose of mediation is not to determine who is right or wrong but rather to define the issues in dispute more clearly and to find creative and acceptable solutions that are not always available at adjudication and that will satisfy the needs of all the parties.

Usually, the parties that are in conflict will be at the table. To maximize the potential for positive outcomes, it is preferable that individuals with decision-making authority also be at the table. Occasionally, other interested parties or subject matter experts might also be requested to participate. In short, when it comes to deciding who should attend, it is a case-by-case approach.

Here are some of the factors that will influence the mediator’s approach: the nature of the conflict, the personalities of the people involved, and the intensity of emotions present. It is important to remember that the mediator’s role is to assist the parties in reaching a solution, not to render a decision.

To do so, the mediator may attempt the following:

  • encourage sharing of information
  • identify and narrow issues
  • help the parties understand each other’s view
  • promote a productive level of discussion
  • shift the focus from the past to the future
  • shift the focus from one of blame to a creative exchange between the parties
  • encourage flexibility and creativity
  • help parties realistically evaluate alternatives