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Published Articles by David Balovich

Published in: Creditworhty News
Date: 2/28/98

Disputes often occur in the collection process and when that happens the most logical and business savvy people often lose their heads and fall back on their emotions which tend to do nothing more then prolong the impasse.

When this occurs I often suggest mediation. In many states mediation has been adopted by the legal system to avoid costly and time consuming litigation which, in most cases, never reaches a verdict due to the parties settling their disputes before final argument is made.

Mediation is voluntary, although courts may order parties into mediation, and confidential. The mediator makes no decisions as to the outcome of the hearing. Successful mediation is contingent on both parties agreeing to settle their dispute.

There are six steps in the mediation process:

1. The Opening

The Opening consists of two parts: the introductory statement and the initial statement.

The Introductory Statement sets the basic rules for the operation of the hearing, establishes the mediator's credibility as a neutral, the openness and control of the procedures, explains what the mediation process is and what will be asked of the parties in the session. This process allows the mediator:

To briefly describe the process to the participants.

To begin developing a rapport with the parties.

To allow the parties time to begin feeling comfortable with the mediator and develop a feeling of trust and belief in the mediator's credibility as a neutral.

To begin creating an atmosphere of agreement by getting the parties to agree to the ground rules.

Initial Statements are commonly referred to as uninterrupted time. Each party is asked to give their perception of the situation. The statements are given without interruption from the other party. The mediator must be comfortable with confusion and not understanding the problem at this point. The parties are usually stating their positions and what the real issues are will become clear later in the session.

The purpose of the initial statement is:

To hear each person's story - what happened, how it is affecting them.

To encourage each party to listen to the other.

To make sure that each person receives full attention, and has an opportunity to express the problem fully without intimidation or challenge.

To begin the process of information gathering so that the mediator can begin to outline the problem.

2. Ventiliation

Ventiliation is used to gather information by encouraging a two way exchange between the parties. After each party has made their initial statement, the mediator's task is to encourage the parties to begin talking directly to each other, rather than through the mediator. In order for the mediation to be successful each party muct be allowed, helped and encouraged to express their feelings. Until this ventiliation has occurred movement within the session will be slow.

The purpose of the ventiliation and the two way exchange is:

To release anger / frustration.

To respond to issues / accusations / questions which surfaced during the initial statement.

To fill in information gaps for the parties and the mediator.

To allow the mediator to listen for information needed to help the parties toward resolution.

Next week Steps 3 through 5.

I wish you well

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