Americans continuously differ on many topics and issues because we each look at the outside world from our own unique perspective. There is nothing wrong with that! However, when the disagreements escalate from a business or very personal relationship, I recommend conflict resolution as soon as reasonable.

Why should two or more people seek mediation? I asked 2 experts on this topic to provide some insight. Daci L. Jett, J.D. is an experienced attorney and certified mediator. The combination of her legal and mediator skills brings a vast body of knowledge to clients. Joe Gosselin is the owner and primary mediator at G&O Mediation. As a neutral third party, he helps clients distill difficult issues to uncover actual needs and interests, and then explores possibilities for win-win agreements.

Below is an edited transcript from my conversation with both of them. I think you will enjoy reading their viewpoints, facts and preferences. Let’s begin…

Who should seek mediation?

Daci: People who want to voluntarily resolve their conflicts are good candidates for mediation. Most of the time, the people who are in a conflict are the best ones to know what will actually resolve the problem.

Also, people who want the freedom to craft a resolution, which is something the legal system cannot provide. For example, people who have a continuing relationship often want intangible things that affect their relationship, such as a cordial way of interacting in the future, or an apology, or they want to be understood.

Couples who want to protect their children from damaging animosity that results from a litigious divorce are good candidates for mediation.

What’s the number one hurdle you see during a mediation assignment?

Joe: The biggest hurdle is getting everyone to the table in the first place.  Once we are sitting down together, the challenge for the parties and the mediator is to move away from initial positions and posturing and towards actual needs and interests.

Briefly tell the readers the differences of mediation and arbitration.

Joe: In mediation the parties get to tell their stories, hear and be heard, and collaborate to create the agreement themselves. The mediator guides them through the conversation and negotiation.  Whereas, in arbitration, an arbitrator, or panel of arbitrators, hear evidence from the parties and renders a decision.

Daci: Mediation is a facilitated negotiation in which the parties themselves come up with a solution. Arbitration is a private trial in which the parties present arguments and evidence, and one or more arbitrators decide the outcome.

What are your criteria for advising a prospective client to take legal action or mediation to resolve the dispute?

Daci: I usually recommend mediation. I think it’s far superior to litigation. A court can only give a few outcomes, but mediated outcomes are really flexible. I recommend legal action for crimes, and cases of abuse when the abuse victim can’t effectively advocate for her/himself, and especially if there is child abuse or animal abuse. I also recommend legal action when the other side is not willing to mediate. Mediation is voluntary, so if the other side isn’t willing to do it, you’re left with the legal system.

In your practice how important is finding emotions?

Joe: Emotions are pathways to parties’ real needs and interests.  When emotions bubble up in the course of a mediation (and they often do), A mediator should both acknowledge the emotion and explore its origins.  Understanding what motivates a particular emotion often leads to breakthroughs that enable everyone involved to orient the discussion around those issues that are most important for a successful resolution.

Let’s wrap up.  Please share your thoughts of the most important benefits of mediation.

Daci: Privacy. Often business owners don’t want the private details of their business operations made public in a lawsuit. Divorcing couples often don’t want details of their private lives, both personal and financial, made public in court filings and a trial.

Joe: In mediation the parties get to tell their stories, hear and be heard and collaborate to create the agreement themselves. This can be particularly beneficial for someone involved in a dispute that requires considerations beyond what the law provides.

No doubt you have learned that mediation has strong attributes for parties willing to work with professionals, whether the issue is business or personal. Contact me if you have a general question. Get in touch with Daci or Joe if you wish to discuss a personal matter.

Daci L. Jett, J.D.

Joe Gosselin

Both Daci and Joe obtained certification in facilitative mediation upon completing extensive training at The Center for Conflict Resolution in Chicago.