Michael Lodge, NCPM, CRTP - Nationally Certified Professional Mediator - www.lodge-co.com
Every business at some point has a dispute or conflict with a customer, employee, vendor, contract, partner or some other business-related issue. Business disputes have a story to tell and an agreement to get to. You can either go into court and fight it before a Judge or you can go into mediation and resolve the issue through in impartial mediator for far less money and time. It is important to understand how business mediation works.
Mediation is basically broken down into six steps. Which are as follows:
Preparation - This is where you will have a consult meeting with the mediator and the mediator will decide whether it is a case that should be done through mediation. Not all cases are suitable for mediation and need to find a different venue to resolve the issue. If your case is appropriate for mediation the Mediator will have you and the other party to 1) agree to mediation, 2) have you fill out an "Intake Form" that allows you to present your side of the issue, with any documents you want to present in the mediation session. Once the mediator has the agreement to mediate, the intake form and documents, he will then schedule a mediation session with the parties. A time is set, a notice is set, and the calendar is booked and the method of meeting. Mostly virtual mediation is done today.
Mediator Opens A Joint Session - The time is set, all parties are in their places and the mediator begins the session with a "Opening Statement", this sets the rules of mediation for all parties to follow.
Disputants Give Their Opening Statements - This is where all the parties are able to outline their positions. In my mediation session I allow each party to have a 15-minute opening statement. At the end of each parties opening statement I will take notes of what has been said and reframe what was said to refresh in easier terms on what was said, I will even ask questions. I have to apologies at times because I have been in business for so long and worked with so many clients in different industries, I tend to ask a lot of question to get to the point
Private Sessions - If a party wishes to talk with me in private I will move them into another private room and talk with them alone. There may be things they want to talk between themselves, or discuss an offer, or something the other side should not hear that may involve the session. Generally, I try and keep everything in a joint session because the conversations are more frank and we are able to get to resolution faster.
Negotiations - This process is the process that offers are put on the table, discussed, negotiated. I always encourage the parties to come to the mediation session with offers. Think the process through. Listen very well to what is being presented. This negotiation process can be done in private or in a joint session. But come to the session prepared.
Agreement and Closure - After all the opening statements, taking positions, negotiating at the table, throwing offers on the table, we finally get to the agreement to close the session and bring the parties together is a signed agreement. Normally the mediator will write a Memorandum of Understanding and the attorney will put it a formal agreement. All parties will sign the Memorandum of Understanding.
One thing that most people do not understand is that a Mediator is not able to give legal advice or legal opinion. They can point you in the right direction, like your attorney, to get the legal help you want. Nor is a mediator representing any one side, they an independent and guide you through the process of mediation. At some mediation session people bring their attorneys to guide them along the way and some just represent themselves. But, at any time during the mediation session and one party says he or she needs to talk to their attorney, I will give them 10 minutes to make the call and the rest of us will get a cup of coffee. Even if the mediator is an attorney, they are not allowed to practice law in mediation. There are all kinds of mediators - attorneys, accountants, therapists, former judges, businesspeople. They all go through the same process of getting certified, sit in mediation sessions and gain continuing education to make their profession solid in knowledge.
If you have any questions about mediation for personal disputes, family issues, and business mediation, send me a text to 818.252.5682 or email us at email@example.com
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Michael Lodge is a Nationally Certified Professional Mediator specializing in business disputes, as well as family conflicts. He has written three books and hosts an international podcast on IHeartRadio and other podcast media stations.