Mediation is a professionally-facilitated dispute resolution system. It involves you and the other parties involved in a conflict sitting down together or working individually with a neutral mediator. The goal of the mediation process is to help you resolve your conflicts without going to court. 

Typically, both parties will have to make concessions and compromises in order for mediation to be successful. Knowing that before you arrive at the mediation table can help you better strategize for your own benefit.

You need to ask for more than you hope to receive to make mediation work

If the goal in mediation is compromise and cooperation, that means both you and the other party will have to give up some of what you want. Whether you need reimbursement because of a construction defect or post-termination benefits from an employer trying to stonewall your severance package, you don’t want to come to the table asking only for what you actually need. 

You should add some additional requests or consider increasing what you asked for so that there is wiggle room during negotiations. That way, you won’t lose out on the results you need in order to reach an agreement. With your goals firmly in mind, you give yourself room to bargain.

Set aside the assumption that the other party won’t work with you

One of the biggest problems people have heading into mediation is the presumption that the other party will prove totally inflexible. Research has shown that it is negative assumptions about cooperation and compromise often determine the outcome of mediation and similar dispute-resolution efforts. 

To best protect yourself, you may want to ask for more than you want, but you should also go into negotiations with the expectation that once you set reasonable terms, the other party will agree. Having your own representation during mediation will make it easier for you to negotiate and properly draft a binding agreement if mediation is successful.