Preparing for a Mediation

How do I prepare for a

Mediation is a very effective tool for resolving disputes and for getting help with difficult conversations. Yet it is still under-utilized, because for many people mediation is an unfamiliar process. By knowing a little more about how to prepare for mediation I think you will feel much more comfortable pursuing this method of dispute resolution.

As you begin to explore mediation as an option for dispute resolution, and seek out a well-trained mediator, this is a suggested list of considerations to give you a head start on having a productive mediation session.

Certainly, not all of the questions on this list will be applicable to your situation. The purpose of providing this list is to help you prepare for a mediation and to feel more comfortable while participating.  Nevertheless the process of scheduling and preparing for a mediation does not have to be complicated. The mediator you choose can provide a great deal of additional guidance.

Deciding on a Time & Place for a Mediation Session

Where would be a neutral place to meet for mediation?

Consider using an office or a community building which is outside of your normal routine.

What are your expectations about the place you will meet?

Consider accessibility and whether refreshments or copying services are available.

Is there any particular time of day, or day of the week, when you think most clearly?

For example some people do their best work in the morning, others in the afternoon, or some may be tired at the end of the week.  You want to bring your best self to mediation.

Do you have a reliable phone or internet connection for a remote meeting?

Test it out!

Do you have a private, quiet room you can sit in, whether the mediation is remote or in-person?

You will be less distracted and the discussion will benefit from confidentiality.

Do you have any concerns about meeting face to face with the other party and have you discussed those with the mediator?

The mediator may, depending on the circumstances, offer parties to be in separate rooms for part or all the mediation session.

Do you need to make childcare or other coverage arrangements in order to participate without distraction?

The less responsibilities you have during the mediation session, the more you can focus and utilize the time productively.

Seeking & Sharing Information before a Mediation

Would a translator be helpful?

Do you or the other party have any language barriers which make it difficult to communicate?

Do you need to seek legal advice or information before going to mediation? Do you know what kinds of issues you need to discuss in this kind of a dispute?

In Texas, ethical guidelines state that your mediator can not provide legal advice to parties they are mediating.  In the Austin area, contact the Lawyer Referral Service to find a lawyer.

Do you have the authority you need to make a decision in the mediation session? Or, if not, can you reach the other decision-makers during mediation?

This is especially applicable when you are representing a company, or when the outcome impacts your family, for example.

Do you feel confident making decisions in the mediation session or do you prefer to talk them out, either by phone or in the mediation room, with someone who you trust and can help you advocate for yourself?

In mediation, you make your own decision about what would be an acceptable outcome.  The mediator can not tell you what to do.  So if you need to, bring someone–a friend, a family member, a lawyer–with you or have them be available by phone during the mediation.  You will need to let the mediator know ahead of time who you are bringing.

Are there any documents the mediator can review before the day of mediation?

Examples would be prior written agreements, email communications, financial information.

The purpose of providing this list is to help you understand how to prepare and be more comfortable with pursuing mediation. If you are interested in including symbols and rituals as another tool to improve the outcome of your mediation session, check out my next blog post. To learn more about the facilitative mediation style I invite you to read my page FAQs on Mediation.  To learn more about mediation in general check out the Austin Mediators Association website.