Mediation is a useful alternative dispute resolution technique that can work in situations ranging from neighborly conflicts to business contract disputes. In mediation, all parties involved in a dispute can work together to find a solution, usually through mutual compromise, that is acceptable to everyone.
Some people attend mediation with their own attorney, and others eschew personal representation and put their full faith in the professional mediator who oversees the process. Having help from someone with experience in negotiation can be particularly helpful for those who aren’t comfortable standing up for themselves or those with little experience with negotiation.
Regardless of the nature of the conflict that leads you to consider mediation, it is of the utmost importance that the mediator you work with is truly neutral. Neutrality is one of the most critical characteristics for someone who will help the people involved in a dispute find a resolution that works for both parties. Understanding what neutrality signifies can help you asked questions to ensure proper neutrality for your situation.
A neutral party likely has no ties with either person involved
Neutrality usually means that there is no pre-existing personal relationship or obligations between the neutral mediator and either of the parties going through mediation. Choosing a mediator who has previously worked with one of the parties may not be as fair or unbiased as a professional mediator who has no pre-existing relationship with either side of the disagreement.
Neutrality also means no personal emotions attached to the situation
Everyone has a personal history, and traumatic or emotional experiences someone goes through can absolutely influence the way they approach conflict in the future. The same is true if one party’s situation could somehow impact the mediator or their immediate family.
Determining whether your mediator has been in the position that resembles either side in your disagreement can give you a good idea about whether they can offer truly neutral support during the mediation process. For example, if your issue is a dispute with the business part where you want to sell the company and they want to maintain independent ownership, a mediator who has previously bought out a business partner may not be the most neutral party for that particular conflict.
Asking the right questions can help ensure that mediation is as fair as possible for both parties involved, which increases the chances of success.