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What Are the Best Mediation Techniques for Beginners?

It is important to understand that it is not the role of mediation to find fault or allow either partner to place blame.
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  • Written By: Angela Johnson
  • Edited By: PJP Schroeder
  • Last Modified Date: 23 October 2014
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Mediation can feel like an overwhelming task for a new attorney. There are a few mediation techniques for beginners that can make the process run a bit smoother. It is important to prepare for mediation by preselecting questions that will be asked during the session, but it is equally important to practice active listening when the other party offers possible remedies. The role of mediation is to come to an amicable agreement for both parties without the cost and time it takes for litigation. The attorney's role is to represent the client's best interests, and this can be done by understanding the minimum agreement that would be accepted by the client.

Beginning the mediation with warm salutations that create a nonthreatening atmosphere is a nice way to calm both parties. Using mediation techniques for beginners, such as the repeat technique during a mediation interview, is a key element in many successful mediation interviews. This is a type of active listening, and it requires the attorney to repeat back what the other individual said so the individual knows that he or she has been heard and understood. For example, the attorney would say to the opposing attorney, after the client has stated the requests, "What your client is saying is they would like to have 50/50 custody of the children."

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A mediator typically oversees the mediation, and the decisions made are nonbinding until an agreement has been signed by both parties. This creates an informal atmosphere that can be used to help both parties come to an agreement without the conversations being used in court. Successful attorneys use mediation techniques for beginners, like understanding that mediation is not as intrusive as a deposition, where everything discussed is recorded by the court. The conversations that take place in mediation are off the record to promote a successful resolution. Litigation can drag on for weeks and sometimes months, which drains the resources of the court system, and mediation is set up to avoid litigation if possible.

Determining a minimum settlement in advance that will be accepted by a client will help an attorney to better serve the client during the mediation process. Typically, both sides need to compromise in order to come to agreeable terms for both parties to accept. A couple of mediation techniques for beginners include preparing the client for the compromises that could be asked of him or her and determining what items can be used as flexible negotiating tools. Predetermining the other party's interests is helpful in shaping resolution terms. If the opposing party has requests that can be met but require small changes, mediation is the place where these terms can be agreed upon.

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