Dispute resolution through mediation can be cheaper and faster than litigating a dispute. Many courts and arbitration forums encourage or even require parties to mediate their disputes before they can be set down for trial or hearing. If you decide to take part in a mediation you should prepare carefully, be flexible and patient. A seasoned mediator is skilled at working with people who are arguing about the facts, but often have different views of how to proceed. Rather than focusing on the details, the mediator helps the parties find ways to work together toward a settlement.

If you are not familiar with the mediation process, discuss it with a lawyer or someone who is experienced in this type of dispute resolution. Find out how long a case might take to resolve and what the costs might be. If you are going to spend a significant amount of time in mediation, you should make sure that you have the money or credit to afford the expenses.

Prepare a written position paper, discussing the factual background, the key issues and areas of agreement and disagreement. This can be helpful for the opposing party to review in advance of mediation sessions and it may help to keep everyone focused on the issues at hand. It can also serve to demonstrate your interest in settling.

Be prepared to express emotion. If you are able to be empathetic with the other side of the dispute, they will be more likely to shift their position and be receptive to your offers. Avoid displaying anger or threats. Authentic expressions of anger, sadness, frustration or fear can sometimes be very effective in resolving disputes.

Make sure the person who has ultimate authority to settle is available for the mediation. If they are unavailable, the case should probably be rescheduled for another date. If it is not possible to bring the ultimate decision maker to mediation, make arrangements for them to be consulted by telephone.

Arrive at the mediation early and be ready to negotiate. A good mediator will be able to break through barriers quickly and effectively. If you are hesitant to move from your rigid position, you will not be able to reach an agreement.

The mediator can help the parties to enter a zone of bargaining in which their demands and offers are both supportable. It is usually the claimant who has to make the first move. Taking a risk to move out of your comfort zone can be very rewarding in a mediation. Be sure to explain the rationale for your moves. This will help the opposition to understand why you are making a move and they should be willing to do the same. Be patient and stay focused on your objective. Almost every dispute requires some compromise. In the end, you will be happier with the result of your mediated dispute than with the outcome of a litigated dispute. The resulting agreement will be binding on both of you.

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