Frequently asked questions
Mediation empowers people to take ownership of their conflict and its resolution. Unresolved or poorly managed conflicts can feel isolating, stressful, and be expensive and time-consuming. By forging your own path out of conflict, you will have:
- Ownership of the resolution and a vested interest in its success,
- A proven ability to work through challenges with the other party,
- Lower costs and faster results than litigation.
Mediation is premised on the idea that with a little support, people can resolve conflicts in ways that best meets their own needs. Mediators may provide this support by proposing a process, encouraging shared understanding, keeping the conversation on track, and helping parties explore ideas to move forward. You can think of mediation as a facilitated conversation between parties in conflict.
How does this work? What’s the process?
Discuss mediation as an option with the other party as a way forward out of your conflict. Both parties must be motivated to resolve the conflict and willing to invest some time and effort to make this happen.
Contact us by phone or email to schedule a free, initial consultation with each party. The purpose is to start understanding the situation, answer questions and decide whether you wish to pursue this process further. Assuming it is, we will schedule more detailed pre-mediation sessions with each party to help them further prepare for the group conference.
During the mediation, each participant will be invited to help create an agenda to guide our discussion, share their perspective on each topic, and work to understand the other party’s ideas and concerns. Depending on how things progress, we will then brainstorm options to address each of the topics discussed, and create a plan to move forward.
Participants are invited to participate in brief follow-up calls with the mediator. The goals are to answer any questions that may have come up and assess how the plan is working out.
What does the mediator do?
The mediator is there to facilitate the discussion, to propose a structure, support your efforts to express and understand one another’s perspectives, and keep the conversation on track.
Mediators do not take sides or make decisions for the parties. The mediator will not act as judge, advocate, counselor, therapist, or attorney for any party, and will not provide legal advice. Mediators do not and cannot guarantee any result. While mediators are there for support, it is ultimately only your efforts and engagement that can spark a successful outcome.
How much does it cost?
The cost for a mediation varies based on the complexity of the conflict and time required for the parties to work towards a mutually agreeable outcome. As a very rough gauge, one might expect that relatively straightforward conflicts with parties that are motivated to achieve a resolution in a single session, can forecast a budget of $800 to $1,200 in mediator fees.
Your mediator can provide an estimate for your specific situation following your initial meeting together.
A sliding-scale fee structure is available for not-for-profit and charitable organizations.
Some fine print…
Mediation can be difficult! Participants may need to take emotional risks and reveal vulnerabilities to address deep sources of conflict. As mediators, our goal is to create a safe, compassionate and judgement-free environment in which this work can occur. On the positive side, while this work can be challenging, it can also be very rewarding. The more each party invests of themselves in the process, the greater the potential rewards.
Only you can guarantee the success of this process.
Conflict Services does not and cannot guarantee any result or outcome.
This has been going on for years! Are you really able to help?
Why do we each speak with you privately before the mediation?
To give each participant an opportunity to share their story and learn about the mediation process in a low-pressure atmosphere. It also gives the mediator a chance to hear an unfiltered account of each perspective, which can help us better prepare for the joint session.
If we agree, then what?
If participants reach an agreement about how to move forward, the mediator can assist in drafting a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) that captures this agreement in writing. This MOU is not a legal contract and cannot be enforced through the courts. It is simply a summary of commitments that you may informally make with one another.
If you wish for the agreement to become legally binding, you would each need to consult your own lawyers on how to proceed. We are not lawyers and could not assist or advise regarding this process.
Can’t you just help us decide?
Unfortunately, no. Mediators are not like judges or arbitrators. We have no decision-making authority and the process is not designed for this purpose. My goal is to help participants gain insights into their own and each other’s perspectives so as to make decisions that suit both of them better going forward.
Do we need a lawyer?
You do not need a lawyer to participate in mediation. The process is not part of the traditional court, litigation or arbitration systems. Having said that, if either party chooses to have a lawyer participate, in the interest of fairness, it is generally necessary for both parties to appear with legal representation.
Can I bring my lawyer?
Yes: your lawyer is welcome to participate in the mediation session. Having said that, if either party chooses to have a lawyer participate, in the interest of fairness, it is generally necessary for both parties to appear with legal representation.
Why not just go to court?
Litigation is a common and better-known option when people are embroiled in conflict. A great aspect of mediation is that it can often be pursued in parallel with any court proceedings; these are not mutually exclusive options.
Some benefits of mediation versus litigation:
- A mediator will often facilitate communication between the parties with the aim of empowering them to work together on a path forward. In litigation, parties are generally discouraged from any direct communication lest they inadvertently weaken their position.
- Mediations are generally confidential. All of the associated communication and even a resulting agreement may be kept in confidence by all parties. Court proceedings are necessarily public.
- Mediations can generally be scheduled and concluded in a much shorter time frame and at a significantly lower cost than litigation.
- Parties to a conflict do not need lawyers when pursuing mediation but may get legal advice at any time if desired.
- A mediation can cover a much broader range of topics and potential paths forward than litigation. Litigation is generally restricted to aspects of a conflict that have a legal dimension. Many conflicts have additional dimensions including emotions, communication, relationships and respect that often lack legal analogues.
Is anyone else allowed to participate?
Yes: in general, you are welcome to bring a friend, family member or other person for support. It is necessary to confirm this in advance however, so that the other participant(s) can be notified and decide whether they too, would like to have anyone else present.
What do I need to do to maximise my chances of success?
It may sound trite, but coming with an open mind and willingness to hear and consider new ideas are critical to your success. This does not mean adopting the other party’s perspective as your own. Rather, your goals should include acquiring a clear understanding of the other party’s ideas, concerns and interests. Similarly, forming a clear idea of your own interests, values and needs that feel threatened or undermined by the conflict can be essential for communicating them effectively. In preparation for the mediation session, think about what these interests, values and needs might be and how you can communicate them in a way that is non-accusatory. For example, “I want to feel that my contributions are valued”, as opposed to, “You’re always shooting down my ideas.”
Can we do this whole thing online?
Yes: both the initial pre-mediation discussion and the mediation session itself can be held over Zoom, Skype or a similar platform. Please note that doing so creates additional privacy and confidentiality risks that we can discuss if this option is selected.
The other party has requested mediation. How can I be sure the process will be fair and not biased against me?
As mediators, we are committed to upholding the standards of conduct set out in MediateBC’s code of ethics (https://www.mediatebc.com/for-mediators/standards-of-conduct/mediators). At its most basic level, this includes a commitment to impartiality and to revealing any conflicts of interest that may arise.
In support of this commitment,
- We spend an equal amount of time with each participant in preparation for the mediation and strive to balance speaking time between them during the mediation. We also work to make the space feel safe, welcoming and open to encourage effective dialogue throughout.
- We do not express preferences, take sides or evaluate proposals or agreements made by either participant.
- Both parties are required to pay an equal portion of our fees.
Do I have to check my emotions at the door?
Definitely not! Emotions underpin our lived experience and guide most of our life decisions. Acknowledging what they are and communicating them openly and accurately can be both extremely challenging and rewarding.
That said, we must also distinguish between communicating emotions versus acting out on them. Communicating honestly and openly about emotions may be critical to the success of a mediation and is always welcome. Acting out on emotions in a way that is threatening or makes others feel unsafe, is unacceptable and will immediately lead to the termination of the mediation.
I have more questions!
Send us a note at [email protected] and we will do our best to assist.