Wednesday, October 15, 2008
Mediation can help resolve disputes and settle cases through the simple device of allowing the parties to tell their side of the story. People have a compelling need to tell their story to someone who is an empathic listener. Lawsuits are not a great vehicle for accomplishing the telling of a personal narrative: once a lawsuit is threatened or pending, the ability of the aggrieved parties to speak from the heart is stifled by legal procedures, attorneys' advice, and the lengthy delay between injury and trial. At mediation, the parties to a dispute get the chance to talk at three different opportunities: first, they can tell their side of the story to the mediator and the other side during the initial joint caucus; second, they can tell their side of the story to the mediator in private caucus; third, they can tell their side of the story to the opposing party in a private conversation, outside of the presence of the mediator or attorneys, but within the context of the mediation session. These opportunities to share what they think happened to them, the impact of the dispute on their lives, and to hear the point of view of the other disputant -- all in a confidential setting -- provide the cathartic venting that is essential to moving on into the future. It often leads to resolution without the pain and risk of additional litigation.