How to Start Mediation The Right Way

How to Start Mediation

The best mediators know how to start mediation in the best way for the particular individual. As mediation has grown in popularity, you have likely heard the benefits of solving problems through the process. Once you’ve understood how helpful mediation can be for conflict resolution, you will probably consider using it for your next conflict. However, many people do not know how to start the mediation process, making it more challenging. This article will outline how mediation may begin and some tips for mediating well.

Parties Determine to Use Mediation

The first and vital step in mediation is that the parties agree to use it to resolve their dispute. Mediation is a voluntary process, so every person involved must agree to mediate. One party cannot force the other to mediate. If you are interested in mediation, you will need to present the idea to the other party and potentially sell them on using it.

Understanding the Mediation Process

Once you have chosen mediation, the following steps may begin. This is where the parties and the mediator meet to work through the conflicts.

Choosing a Mediator

Most mediation will begin when the parties agree to mediate and decide how to choose a mediator. The parties may choose to use a firm or service that sends them a mediator, or they may choose their own. Some organizations may provide free or low-cost mediation to those who need resolution but cannot afford

The mediator’s role is to help the parties resolve the case. They should do so neutrally and fairly, allowing both parties ample time to speak. They should not be connected to either party or the outcome of the case. Mediators should also have training in mediation through a course or other form of experience.

Opening Statements Begin the Mediation Session

The mediation session will start with an opening statement by the mediator. Most mediators will use this time to establish the ground rules for the structure and will help the participants understand the goals of settlement and civility. Mediators often stress that mediation is nonbinding and confidential, with an emphasis on solutions rather than determining the truth or using the law.

After the mediator’s opening statement, the parties will each present a statement. This is a chance to develop the story from their point of view and ensure that all other participants have the necessary information to work on finding a way to settle the case, such as documents or other prepared materials. If the parties have attorneys, they will often present these statements.

Private Meetings

After the opening statements, the mediator may request private sessions with each party to get a better understanding of the dispute and any possible resolution. Everything that either party shares with the mediators will be kept confidential unless the mediator is authorized to share it with the other party. The goal of these meetings is to help the mediator understand the positions of the parties and search for a way toward a possible settlement agreement.

The mediator may move back and forth between the rooms or may have the parties come back together to talk about possible ways to settle the dispute. The mediator may move the parties back and forth throughout the session.

Parties Reach an Agreement

The mediation will end when the parties reach an agreement. This agreement has two options: settle the case or pursue other options.

Settlement Agreement

The first option is a settlement agreement. This is an agreement that will resolve either the whole case or a portion of it. This is considered a success in mediation. Once the parties agree, the mediator will put the agreement in writing, and the parties will sign it. Many mediations end with the parties signing a settlement agreement.

Other Options

In some cases, the parties and the mediator will not be able to get the case resolved. This is not a failure, but it speaks to the complexity of the case. When the parties are unable to settle the case, there are a few options that the parties can consider. Mediations may move onto other options for the whole case or the part that was not resolved.

First, the parties may pursue litigation in the court system. This allows the parties to present their case to the court and have a judge or jury decide. This takes away control from the parties but guarantees a result.

The parties may also choose to try arbitration. Arbitration is a mechanism similar to litigation, but the parties have a private hearing. It is much less formal than litigation, but it often involves decision-makers with training and experience in the subject matter.


Mediation is a vital mechanism for problem-solving. It allows the parties to control the outcome and move forward together. If you hope to use mediation, the first step is to work with the other parties to get support.

Contact ADR Times today to learn more about how to start mediation, the mediation process, and more!

Emily Holland
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