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What Disputants Want from a Mediator

By Ed Sikorski

Disputants often want mediators to hear their point of view and then convince everyone else involved that they are right and should get their way. Some more sophisticated understand that some compromise is necessary and that part of negotiation is looking at new approaches to solve a problem, but they still want the mediator to help them advocate their interests.

Effective mediators will help the parties do just that.

They will listen to all of the parties carefully and give each one an opportunity to present his or her most powerful argument in an effective way. If the mediator is focused, maybe not on cajoling, pleading, and persuading, but on helping each disputant present his or her views in a cogent manner and on working to ensure that everyone’s ideas and needs have been taken seriously, then the disputants and mediator are working together. If the mediator helps each disputant carefully and realistically think through his or her choices at various points in the process, they are working in compliment.

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