Opening Statement Elements
Mediation is a process wherein a trained mediator meets with the individuals involved in a conflict or dispute.
A mediator is a neutral, third party who facilitates a mediation/meeting whereby the parties can respectfully discuss their conflict, objectives, goals, and feelings.
Opening statement is to introduce mediation to the parties and sets the ground rules for the mediation.
This is a time for the mediator to introduce themselves and the ground rules set for mediation.
It is still important that the mediator explain a little about themselves and who they are. (It seems that the first 30 seconds to one minute is when the relationship and trust is established between the mediator and the parties involved.)
Ground rules are binding rules that the parties must follow.
If the parties choose not to abide by the ground rules, the mediation should be terminated.
It is important for the mediator to try his or her best to make the parties feel comfortable.
Tell the parties that you are going to introduce some rules and regulations for the mediation.
Make sure to clarify that some of the rules may seem very easy and simple, but nevertheless it is essential that the parties abide by the rules or the mediation will not be successful.
Speaking down to the parties is one of the most detrimental ways to ensure an unsuccessful mediation and create offense.
If the party feels that he or she is respected by the mediator, he is more likely to come to an agreement.
One of the greatest concerns for individuals involved in mediation is that they are opening up their lives and problems to a stranger.
Tell the parties that the mediation is entirely confidential.
Inform the parties that they cannot call the mediator into court to testify over the matter involved.
Also inform the parties that you are required by law to report any illegalities include acts of child abuse, elderly abuse, or alcohol and drug abuse.
Parties are not willing to disclose their true feelings, problems, and issues if they feel that the mediator will not hold such confidences in good faith.
Tell the parties that you are a neutral third party acting as a facilitator, and you are involved to help the parties come to a resolution.
The resolution must be a product of the parties and not the mediator.
Reiterate to the parties that they are responsible for coming to a decision, if they ultimately choose to reach a decision.
Although during intake, it is appropriate for a mediator to gather names, a few facts and other material information needed to prepare for the mediation.
It is not appropriate for a mediator to have a long conversation with one party while the other party is no where in sight.
Advise the parties that they are at liberty to obtain an attorney who will, in fact, advocate on their behalf.
The mediator's body language is essential to the appearance of neutrality.
Due to the high intensity of emotions involved in mediation, neutrality is the key. Respect of the parties and their feelings is essential to the process.
A caucus is more appropriate and professional than a mediator spending time on the phone with only one party.
The good faith element requires a mediator to inform the parties that they must treat each other respectfully and with the utmost courtesy during the mediation.
Allow them to write their thoughts down on paper while still listening to the other party instead of having the other party to interrupt one another.
The parties must not use inappropriate language.
If a party slips up and makes an unkind statement, the mediator must immediately remind the party of the rule because it allows the victim of such statements to feel embarrassed, unrecognized, and ignored.
If a party refuses to cooperate with the good faith rule, the...
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