Mediation: Meaning & Process

Recently, mediation has been identified as the alternative dispute resolution method that is expanding the fastest. A participatory and facilitative approach enables parties to reevaluate shared interests and develop creative solutions. Issues are settled by negotiation using effective communication strategies during mediation, which is voluntary and non-binding for the parties. The mediator makes recommendations, but the parties are not required to participate in the mediation or to think about the recommendations if they are not interested. In India, the idea of mediation has not been restricted by any one particular statutory provision.

What is Mediation?

Mediation is a voluntary procedure in which a professional and impartial third party, the mediator, assists the disputing parties in reaching an agreeable settlement that meets their needs and is acceptable to all parties. The mediator arranges a private, confidential meeting where the parties can speak face to face. Both parties will have the chance to express their points of view and hear what the other has to say. The parties are not forced to accept the mediator's recommendation.

Process of Mediation

Mediation is used to further discussions when the parties to the problem refuse to communicate with one other or when negotiations fail to lead to a common ground. The mediator serves as a neutral third party to facilitate resolution without assessing the merits of either side's argument. A mediator of this type is a person or group of people who are neutral and trusted by all parties to the issue. The mediating party takes control of the negotiation thread and serves as a conduit for communication between the opposing parties.

Once a mediator has been found, the procedure entails communicating proposals and solutions to the parties involved. However, there is no requirement that the parties accept the remedies proposed by the mediating party. Mediation is a peaceful, non-coercive procedure due to the voluntary acceptance of a solution and the parties' collaboration in a disagreement.

Two requirements must be met for mediation to be successful. First and foremost, the mediator should be well-versed in the issue at hand and be able to portray a fair and objective image. Otherwise, the mediator runs the danger of alienating one or both parties. When one of the parties cannot accept the compromise option, such dissatisfaction frequently functions as a roadblock to effective mediation. Second, both parties must be willing to use mediation, and the mediator must be acceptable to them. The agreement to mediate and the trust placed in the mediator by the disputing parties are critical for effective conflict resolution. Trust, impartiality, or confidence may ensure that the mediation process is maintained.

Steps in Mediation

Mediation is often a four-stage procedure that begins with planning and bringing the parties to the table.

  • The first step is the introduction stage, in which the mediator creates a secure space for competing people and groups to begin face-to-face discussions. The mediator introduces himself/herself to the parties in disagreement. She/he also emphasises the meeting's goal: it is voluntary for them to reach a mutual agreement. He or she then defines his or her role in the process, which is to assist people in communicating with one another rather than to judge or provide solutions.

  • The second step is storytelling, which allows disagreeing people and organisations to voice their concerns, explain the problem as they see it, and obtain an understanding of the other side's point of view. The mediator must ensure that the parties communicate directly with one another rather than indirectly or through him/her.

  • The third stage of the mediation process is problem resolution. The key here is to foster a sense of joint ownership of the problems (they are in this together - they got into the conflict together, and now they must work together to get out of it) by assisting in identifying the issues that divide them and generating, evaluating, and negotiating resolution options.

  • The final step of mediation is an agreement to secure or achieve a long-term agreement. The mediator should work out the details of a fair and long-term agreement, including how to deal with problems or concerns that may develop later in the implementation process. To do so, she or he must address the contents of the agreement, such as what will be done, who will do it, when it is done, where it will be done, and lastly, how it will be done.

Mediation from a Psychological Perspective

The goal of mediation is to encourage the disputing parties to put aside their demands and consider the interests, objectives, and underlying requirements of the other party to replace the "win-lose" attitude with a win-win orientation. This requires a grasp of the psychological components involved in the process. The psychological foundation of negotiation and mediation is self-esteem. This is frequently portrayed in conflict literature as a party's desire to "save face," a person's "ego," or a person's "egocentric" viewpoint.

Numerous studies have identified the ability to recognize oneself and others as a critical component of development theory. A realistic, objective, and self-reflective perspective of oneself and others grow together with a person's development of a healthy sense of self. It is sometimes referred to as the ability for reciprocal recognition by intersubjective theorists. This would imply that mediators would be more effective if they could maintain sufficient objectivity toward themselves and others.


Although mediation can be a successful way to settle some disputes, it is only appropriate in some circumstances. In cases where one side is significantly more potent than the other or when there are complicated legal or technical difficulties, mediation may not be appropriate. Despite its widespread use, mediation is still a developing field that needs more development and process improvement. This encompasses the creation of novel methods and strategies and the education and advancement of mediators as professionals.

Updated on: 13-Mar-2023


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