The Many Styles of Mediation: Choosing the Right Approach for Your Dispute.


Mediation is a powerful way to resolve disputes, allowing parties to work together to find a mutually beneficial resolution that may not be possible through litigation or other adversarial means. However, with so many different styles of mediation available, it can be difficult to know which approach is right for your situation. Explore the various styles available and weigh the pros and cons of each. Whether you’re a business owner, an attorney, or an individual seeking resolution, we hope this guide will provide clarity and insights on the best approach for your needs.

1) Facilitative Mediation:

Facilitative mediation is perhaps the most well-known style, involving the use of a neutral third-party mediator who facilitates communication between the disputing parties. The mediator is not a decision-maker, but rather acts as a guide to help parties identify their underlying interests and work towards a resolution. This approach is often used in cases where parties have a continuing relationship, such as business partners or family members, as it fosters communication and problem-solving skills that can be useful in future disputes. Advantages of facilitative mediation include:

  • Parties have control over the outcome
  • Confidentiality is maintained throughout the process
  • The mediator’s role is impartial and does not take sides
  • The process is less expensive than taking a case to court

2) Evaluative Mediation:

Evaluative mediation is a more directive approach, where the mediator evaluates the strengths and weaknesses of each party’s case and provides an opinion on the likely outcome of a trial. This style is often used in cases where parties are seeking a settlement rather than a full trial, and want to understand the potential outcomes before making a final decision. Advantages of evaluative mediation include:

  • The process is faster than a full trial
  • Parties can learn more about the strengths and weaknesses of their case
  • The mediator can provide guidance and recommendations for a settlement
  • The process is less expensive than a full trial

3) Transformative Mediation:

Transformative mediation is a newer approach that focuses on empowering parties to improve their relationship and communication skills, even beyond the current dispute. The mediator is less focused on finding a specific solution and more focused on creating a safe and respectful space for parties to express themselves and explore their emotions. Advantages of transformative mediation include:

  • Parties can improve their relationship beyond the immediate dispute
  • Parties feel more heard and respected throughout the process
  • The process can improve communication and conflict resolution skills for the future
  • The relationship between parties can be strengthened rather than damaged

4) Narrative Mediation:

Narrative mediation is an approach that focuses on the stories and perceptions of the parties involved, rather than strictly on the facts of the case. Parties are encouraged to share their experiences and perspectives, which can create a deeper understanding and empathy between parties. The mediator helps to create a narrative of the dispute that acknowledges the perspectives of all parties involved. Advantages of narrative mediation include:

  • Parties can feel more heard and understood throughout the process
  • The focus on narrative can create empathy and understanding between parties
  • The process can help parties develop a deeper understanding of the dispute and their own emotions
  • The focus on narrative can help parties develop more meaningful and lasting solutions

Choosing the Right Style for Effective Dispute Resolution

Mediation is an effective and powerful way to resolve disputes, but choosing the right approach is crucial to success. By understanding the many styles of mediation available, you can work with your mediator to find the approach that is best suited to your needs. Whether you’re seeking an impartial facilitator to help foster communication, an evaluative mediator to guide settlement talks, a transformative approach to help build better relationships, or a narrative focus to create deeper understanding, Rhino Mediation has the expertise and experience to guide you to success. Contact us today to learn more about our mediation services and how we can help you find the right approach to your dispute.

More To Explore