Stage One:  Opening

Mediator sets up the room (whether it be in an office or home) The space must be:

  1. Quiet
  2. Private
  3. Comfortable chairs and a table for the participants to write on, and positioned so the mediator is able to sit equidistant from each and so that each member of the mediation has good eye contact with one another and the mediator does not appear to be sitting in a position of authority.
  4. Provide each participant with a pad and writing instrument

Stage Two:  The Mediator’s Clear and Complete Opening Statement

  1. Introductions: address the participants in the way they have asked you to – make sure you pronounce their names correctly
  2. Say that you will maintain confidentiality (and the limits of this should this matter become discoverable in a court proceeding.)
  3. That the participants will decide the outcome with your help
  4. That you are neutral and that your only goal is to find a resolution
  5. That the process is voluntary
  6. That the process is win/win where the objective is to satisfy the needs and concerns of both sides
  7. Explain caucusing (i.e. speaking privately with one side)
  8. Explain the time frame – how long you think the mediation will take

Stage Three: Ground Rules:

  1. Do not interrupt (jot down points you would like to make)
  2. Treat each other with respect
  3. That it is expected that you are trying as hard as possible to solve the problem
  4. That the order of who speaks first will be decided neutrally
  5. That you will be given, within reason, the amount of time you need to explain your position
  6. That in the course of the mediation you will be asked to reflect back the other participants’ position  – even though you probably do not agree with it.

Stage Four: The Mediator Works to Understand the Underlying Concerns of Each Participant:

  1. The mediator asks Disputant A their perspective of the situation
  2. The mediator listens for, acknowledges and confirms Disputant A’s needs and feelings.
  3. Steps 1 and 2 are repeated with Disputant B

NOTE: if Disputant A is taking a great deal of time and Disputant B is becoming anxious you may have to be flexible about going back and forth between the disputants:  The point is that by the end of this stage each disputant feels that you understand their side of the dispute.

Stage Five:  The Mediator Helps Each Side Understand the Perspective of the Other:

  1. Explain to disputants A,E,I,O, and U* statements, give examples of each and that in mediation you are trying to use I,O, and U statements.
  2. The mediator asks each of the disputants to use “O” statements to reflect back to the other, the other’s needs, position and feelings (including values and assumptions) in the dispute. This is a critical and delicate stage in the mediation: The mediator is on the look out for attacking statements and personal attacks and interrupts if that is occurring, helping the participant to make “O” and “I” statements.  If the participant cannot oblige after repeated attempts, and there is risk to either of the participants, the mediator must decide whether to caucus with the participant and/or terminate the mediation.
  3. The mediator summarizes with the participants each participants perspective of the other’s position.

Stage Six:  Seeking a Resolution

  1. The  mediator identifies possible common ground between each of the participant’s positions and, if the participants agree on these common areas of interest then:
  2. Reframes the conflict and, with this new interpretation of the conflict,
  3. Looks for solutions (brainstorming) so that both participants’ needs are met: this can require some creative problem solving and the use of  “U” statements.

Stage Seven:  Finalizing the Resolution:

  1. The mediator records the resolution on a white board or chalk board or any way that allows both parties to simultaneously see what has been recorded.
  2. The mediator evaluates the resolution for its: ability to help avoid future conflicts, its specificity, that it is realistic and that it is fair and balanced.
  3. If asked for, the mediator provides a written document of the resolution and each participant receives a signed copy.
  4. The mediator ascertains how the participants will avoid future conflicts.
  5. The mediator thanks the participants and offers h/her help in the future.

*A, E, I, O and U Statements  (Developed by Ellen Raider and Susan Coleman)

Attacking statement: puts the other on the defensive

Evading statements: avoids the issue and the person

Informing statements: provides information that is explanatory

Opening statements: usually a question that opens the door to a solution.

Uniting statement: provides a way to solve the problem together.