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
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.
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
To fill in information gaps for the parties and the mediator.
To allow the mediator to listen for information needed to help the parties
Next week Steps 3 through 5.
I wish you well