Most people think that they have only three choices when confronted with a conflict. They can work the problem out themselves, go to court, or simply give up and give in. But there is a fourth option...mediation!
Mediation is an informal process where the two disputing parties meet together with an impartial mediator. The mediator is trained to assist the parties to come to a resolution that they can both live with. Mediation differs from litigation (going to court) because the mediator does not impose a solution. Instead, he or she helps the parties in conflict come to an acceptable solution on their own.
Benefits of Mediation
Mediation is a creative and flexible way of resolving disputes. The actual process may vary depending on the parties' needs and the mediator's style. Usually, both parties meet face-to-face to discuss the issues; however, online and phone consultations are also possible. The mediator helps the discussions remain focused and productive. The mediator guides the disputants toward a solution by helping them define the important issues and understand each other's positions.
The process of mediation does more than resolve disputes. Mediation educates all the parties involved in strategies for more effectively dealing with conflict situations. Disputants can take what they learn in the mediation process and use it to resolve disputes and deal with conflict in their daily lives. Mediation has been described as an empowering process because it gives people some of the tools they need to solve their own problems and improve their lives and relationships.
Historically, disputes submitted to professional mediation services have an 80% settlement rate. Also, both parties are much more likely to adhere to the details of their agreement.
Mediation hearings can be scheduled in a matter of days. Scheduling a court proceeding could take weeks or even longer because of heavy caseloads. Also, when people use mediation instead of litigation, it frees up the courts to hear matters that are more serious.
The Center offers low-cost mediation services. Fees are based on a sliding scale and the clients' ability to pay. A typical session will cost $50, and mediations that extend beyond two sessions are $25 for each additional session. These costs are much lower than the costs involved in taking a dispute to court.
Mediation has a strict code of confidentiality, which means that parties risk no public exposure or damage to their reputations by participating in a mediation.
Mediation allows each participant to "win some" and "lose some," while a judge or court chooses a winner and a loser. Furthermore, the court judgment may technically resolve the dispute, but it does not heal the damaged relationship between the two parties.
Mediation allows each party to speak candidly, without fear of intimidation. Additionally, both parties agree on a location for the mediation so everyone involved can feel comfortable.
Mediation ensures that each party's unique needs and interests are addressed. There is no formula for reaching a resolution, so the mediator approaches each case with the desire to find a unique solution to fit the problem and the needs of the participants.
What types of disputes can be mediated?
Mediation can help with many different types of disputes:
- Neighborhood and Community Disputes
- Family Disputes
- Divorce and Custody Agreements
- Workplace Disputes
- Victim/Offender Mediation
- Courts/Legal System Referrals to Mediation
- Campus Disputes (Student/Faculty/Staff)
- Consumer/Merchant Complaints
- Business-to-Business Concerns
Disputes can generally be settled through mediation if all parties involved agree to mediate and come to the mediation willing to participate. This means that the parties must be able to speak about the dispute calmly and rationally, and must be willing and able to deal with each other.
Does the CDR make mediation referrals or offer mediation services?
The CDR provides referrals for individuals interested in mediation. The CDR may also provide mediation services in selected cases, such as simple neighborhood mediation cases and roommate disputes (for Missouri State University students).
If you are considering mediation as an option to handle a dispute, please contact the CDR for more information at CDR@MissouriState.edu or 417-836-8831.
What happens when a mediation is requested?
When a person requests a mediation, a representative takes down information concerning the dispute. The representative will then contact the other party (the person/people the conflict is with) to ask if they are willing to talk with the complainant (the other party) and a trained mediator about the problem. The representative will then arrange a time and place for the disputants to meet.
Later, the people in dispute meet together with a trained mediator. Each person is given the opportunity to explain the problem as he or she sees it, and to work together with the other party and the mediator to develop a solution to the conflict. The mediator writes any agreement reached, and the parties sign it. All proceedings are strictly confidential.