I’ve had a few mediation cases recently that didn’t reach agreement. In trying to analyse what ‘went wrong’, as it were, one conclusion I came to is that the parties weren’t really on board for mediation. They were on board yes, to have a dialogue with the other person with me present but really they weren’t in a place of being able to move forward.
In my current pre-mediation questionnaire I have a question ‘on a scale of 1- 10, to what extent would you like to get this matter resolved’. All of them gave either 9 or 10 out of 10 – yet my gut instinct, on reflection was that they hadn’t a clear understanding of the type of challenge that mediation presents.
Mediation yes, is a great process and has many advantages over its more adversarial cousins such as investigation or litigation. However, it’s not without its challenges. In order for mediation to be able to work, people need to be in some sort of mindset that fosters collaboration and compromise and be able to think in terms of needs rather than wants. Yet, it can be hard to help people clarify this for themselves in advance of the process and to get clear on the type of challenge they need to rise to if the process is to be successful.
I have since developed a short ‘quiz’ here that people can take in order to help assess whether they are in such a mindset. I’d welcome any thoughts or feedback you might have as to whether this would be useful or not. Maybe consider a conflict situation you are in yourself and how well this questionnaire would help you identify where you were at in terms of willingness to move forward in the situation.