Similar to the role of the facilitator, the mediator helps the parties design and implement a process by which they can surface, address, and resolve differences successfully. However, while groups of individuals may use facilitators to help them explore alternative solutions and come to joint decisions, mediators help settle disputes that already exist among specific “parties” who have opposing perspectives/positions on how to resolve them.
The mediator has special training to assist conflicting parties come together when communication between them has already broken down and they cannot get resolution by themselves. The mediator is invited by the parties to initiate a step-by-step effort to restore communication, build mutual respect and trust, create a context in which the parties are willing and able to hear one another, generate options, and support them to craft an agreement that resolves past differences and creates the foundation for future cooperation.
Much of IDRS’ work over the past twenty years has been in Indian country. We have mediated many conflicts within the tribal community—within families, the workplace, the community, and tribal government institutions. Our mediators also have successfully served as intermediaries in a wide variety of “government to government” negotiations between tribes and a myriad of local, county, state and federal agencies. (For a description of our work in “government to government” transactions click on to “gov’t to gov’t”)
IDRS is a strong advocate of the Mediation process because it is quicker and much less expensive than waging battle in the courts today. Moreover, we favor this process because parties are from the beginning to end in the “drivers seat”. Parties enter Mediation voluntarily and can withdraw anytime they think that it is not being productive. Moreover, it is the parties who come up with the ground rules that will guide their deliberations. And, it is the parties who determine what will be included in their Agreement. They ultimately know better than a judge what their interests are and what outcomes are realistic and feasible
How can you arrange for IDRS’ Mediation Services?
You can arrange for mediation services by calling our offices and speaking to one of our mediators on the telephone. The mediator will:
- Speak to you and the other parties confidentially about your perspectives on the nature of the conflict, including its history, possible causes, who is involved, etc.
- Give you immediate feedback on whether he or she thinks that the conflict can be “mediated”, how long it might take to reach an agreement, some possible approaches, and a ball-park cost estimate.
- Ask you to identify the other parties and provide contact information if you have it. Then the Mediator can follow up by contacting the other parties.
- Meet with each party separately to describe the mediation process, answer questions the parties may have about the process, and determine their willingness to enter the mediation process.
- Obtain from you and the other parties your commitment to participate in the process, your availability and preferences regarding the times and locations for a meeting, who you would like to bring with you, what ground rules you feel you would need to feel safe and respected.
- Usually by phone, get your agreement on the time and place for the first session, the size of each group coming to the “table”, and the specific names of the people who will participate in the mediation
- At the first joint session, begin by describing the Mediation process, and help you and the other parties define and agree on procedural ground rules and the process that will be followed.
- After the negotiation of the Procedural Agreement, the Mediator will facilitate the discussion and resolution of the substantive problems that are at the heart of the conflict.
- The product of the Mediation Session(s) will be a behaviorally specific written Agreement that spells out in detail how the parties have agreed to proceed into the future