Small business owners understand the importance of community. Maintaining healthy relationships with neighboring businesses, customers and government officials can lead to future opportunities. Additionally, investing in one’s community can lead to returns based on loyalty and preference.

However, like with all relationships, disputes may arise. To better maintain these important relationships, resolving these disputes through mediation can offer a fair and speedy solution.

Types of mediation

Different types of mediation suit different types of disputes. Often, contracts between business partners may outline an approach to dispute resolution that involves one of the below methods. Additionally, a mediator, attorney or judge may suggest any of the following:

  • Facilitative: The two disputing parties will choose a neutral mediator who facilitates conversation toward resolution. A mediator helps each party explore the other’s concerns and motivations, using their mutual desire for compromise to find an appropriate resolution. Facilitative mediation is best for those motivated toward compromise and will go a long way toward preserving a healthy working relationship.
  • Court-mandated: If the dispute ends up in civil court, a judge may rule for mediation instead. Disputing parties may find this problematic as mediation works best when people come to it willingly.
  • Evaluative: Mediators take an active role in evaluative mediation. They carefully listen to each side’s arguments and suggest courses of action. These mediators are often attorneys who focus on legal issues.
  • Transformative: Grounded in facilitative mediation, transformative mediation asks that each party engage in active empathy. This ambitious practice seeks to transform participants on a fundamental level.
  • Med-Arb/Arb-Med: Mediated by a judge, these types defer to arbitration if a compromise is unreachable. In Med-Arb, a judge will declare a ruling after attempted mediation, and in Arb-Med, a judge will secretly make a ruling before mediation.
  • E-mediation: A more modern tool, this is useful if both parties have difficulty being in the same room, either due to distance or temperament. Early research implies e-mediation is just as effective as traditional types.

Seeking an equitable solution

If a party suggests mediation, they are often signaling they wish to compromise. This alone can go a very long way toward resolving disputes and rebuilding relationships. Those facing a civil dispute have found success working with a local lawyer experienced in mediation.