What is mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary, confidential process in which a trained, impartial mediator helps people in conflict to communicate respectfully and effectively with each other. The mediator facilitates communication by helping the parties define issues, remove obstacles to respectful communication and explore potential solutions.

What training do RECOURSE mediators have?

All RECOURSE mediators must have at least 32 hours of formal mediation training, and at least 16 hours of training in community mediation. Many RECOURSE mediators exceed these requirements.

What should I expect in a mediation setting?

Mediation at RECOURSE starts with each party taking turns to speak to the mediators in an uninterrupted way. This gives both sides a chance to tell their story and be heard by the other side. The mediators help clarify each person’s point of view and summarize what was said in a way that points out the most important interests of each side. The mediators then encourage and support direct communication between the parties and help them to discuss possible solutions. If the parties want to have a written agreement, the mediators can help draft the agreement so that both sides are clear about their obligations and commitments.

Will I have to sign something before I’m sure it’s the right solution for me?

No. Remember that mediation is a voluntary process and that the parties in the mediation make the decisions. If you would like an attorney or a trusted person to review an agreement before you sign it then you should say so. When both parties are very comfortable that the agreement they have made with each other is in their best interests, then it is very likely that both sides will keep the agreement.

I’m afraid that the other side will ‘out-talk’ me and that no one will really understand my side. Will the mediators help me?

Yes. The mediators are there to help each of you to truly hear and understand each others’ point of view.
Because they are there to support the communication between you, the mediators will make sure that everyone has the same opportunity to speak. Also, by asking you questions to clarify what you are saying, the mediators will help you to be better understood by the other side, including how you are feeling about the situation.

Will I have to be in the same room as the other person?

No. One very important aspect of the mediators’ job is to maintain a safe and respectful environment for both sides. At RECOURSE we encourage people to stay in the same room so that they can see and hear each other and fully express all aspects of the situation, particularly their concerns and needs. Often people are worried about their own strong emotions or the level of upset in the other person. RECOURSE mediators are trained to help people to fully express their emotions but they will work to communicate the essence of the message and take out the blaming or hurtful language. Mutually agreed upon “ground rules” help maintain a safe environment.

What if I want to tell the mediators something that I don’t want the other person to hear? Can I talk with the mediator alone?

Yes. If people need time to talk with the mediators in private, all they have to do is ask. Equal time will be given to the other side and no communications will be disclosed to the other side without your permission to do so.

What if we need to take longer than 3 hours? Can we keep going or does the session end right at 3 hours?

In our experience, people find it difficult to concentrate for more than 3 hours in the evening (most RECOURSE mediation sessions are from 6pm-9pm). However, since the process belongs to the parties, if you need more time you can either schedule another session or take the extra time as long as both sides want to continue.

How can I get the other side to come to mediation with me?

We can help. RECOURSE can contact the other side on your behalf and invite them to mediate the matter between you. Mediation is a voluntary process so RECOURSE will not threaten or coerce anyone to attend mediation. Mediation works best when both sides are willing to settle the matter and are willing to listen to each other and put the dispute behind you.

What if I don’t know how to solve this dispute? Can the mediators give me some advice?

No. Mediators cannot advise you about any particular solution. The process of mediation empowers you to come to your own decisions. RECOURSE mediators will help each of you to understand the underlying needs, concerns, desires and fears that you have, and oftentimes simply examining those interests can surface solutions that you may not have considered before. The mediators can help you both to brainstorm options for settlement based on your best interests.