Why Should You Mediate?
The key advantage of mediation is the gateway to interest-based negotiation by the presence of a neutral person in the negotiating frame – one who can handle the process and enable the parties to negotiate based more on their needs than on the positions that they have taken.
In most cultures, people tend to negotiate from positions. Positional negotiation usually involves extreme opening positions, a compromise somewhere between the parties opening positions, a process of gradual and usually mutual concessions clouded by “tactics” – exaggerations, disguised and undisguised threats, overstatements and often lies and trickery. Positional negotiation fails if insufficient concessions are made. Positional negotiation is quite easy, and does not stretch the players’ negotiating abilities.
Interest-based negotiation happens when the parties focus on their needs and interests more than on their positions, enabling them to achieve more creative options for mutual gain. It is a more collaborative, less combative experience aimed at maximizing the value on the negotiating table – often by bringing to the table value that may not necessarily be there initially.
The presence of a skilled neutral changes the negotiating dynamic in a critical way. The mediator can help the parties to keep the negotiation focused and framed positively, and to consider their positions and interests more objectively and realistically. This calls for wide-ranging and exceptional skills on the mediator’s part, and the parties need to be able to trust the mediator. From the parties’ perspective, a faster and higher quality outcome can usually be expected from the engagement of a competent, suitable mediator in most negotiations.