Everyone sits down at a table together. The mediator has each person tell their side of the story. The mediator limits interruptions and disrespectful language. Then everyone discusses ways to resolve the conflict.
If an agreement is reached, it is usually put in writing and signed by everyone. If an agreement is not reached, the mediation is ended. Mediators do not issue a decision or impose a resolution. People can still try other ways to resolve their dispute.
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Mediation is an informal, voluntary process. A professional, impartial third party helps the contending parties exchange views and explore possible options for resolving the conflict. The goal of mediation is to help parties reach their own mutually-acceptable settlement of issues in dispute.
Often, this will solve the problem, and usually will at least keep it from escalating. Any decision reached is through the efforts and agreement of the parties themselves. Mediation enhances communication, promotes responsibility, and helps people to acquire skills that can assist in preventing or resolving future disputes.
See our Situations for Mediation page for details on the types of cases that can be mediated.
Participants share responsibility for solving problems. Mediation provides an efficient tool for solving employee, agency, and community issues. It costs nothing and often results in positive outcomes for all parties.