What to Do When Mediation Stops Working?


Mediation has become a popular alternative to other procedures when settling disputes. It is less expensive, less time-consuming, and preserves relationships. However, even with all its advantages, mediation can fail, leaving the parties involved feeling frustrated and unsure of the next steps to take. We will explore why mediation fails and what you can do when it does.

Understanding Mediation

Before delving into the limitations of mediation, it is crucial to have a clear understanding of what mediation entails. Through the voluntary process of mediation, a mediator—a third party who is impartial—helps disputing parties communicate with one another. The mediator helps them identify issues, explore potential solutions, and ultimately work towards a mutually acceptable agreement.

Advantages of Mediation

Before we delve into the limitations, let’s briefly highlight some of the advantages that make mediation an attractive option:

  • Confidentiality: Through confidential mediation, parties can openly discuss their issues without worrying about being made public.
  • Cost-effective: Mediation is often more affordable than litigation, saving parties substantial time and money.
  • Empowers the parties: Unlike litigation, where a judge makes the final decision, mediation empowers the parties involved to actively participate in crafting a resolution that meets their needs.
  • Preserves relationships: Mediation encourages open communication and cooperation, allowing parties to maintain or even improve their relationships after the dispute is resolved.

Lack of Preparation

One of the leading causes of failed mediation is a lack of preparation. Too often, parties come in unprepared, not knowing what they want or what they are willing to compromise on. This leads to a stalemate where neither side can reach an agreement. To avoid this, it is essential to do your homework before the mediation session. Know what you want, what is negotiable, and what is non-negotiable.

Lack of Trust

Mediation is all about building relationships and trust. When parties don’t trust each other, it’s challenging to negotiate a resolution. Lack of trust can arise when there has been a history of dishonesty or deception. In these situations, it might be essential to consider other options to mediation or to involve an impartial third party in order to aid in the restoration of trust.

Communication Breakdown

Communication is key to successful mediation. When communication breaks down, it’s challenging to reach a resolution. Parties may become defensive or aggressive, making it difficult to find common ground. It’s essential to maintain open and honest communication during the entire mediation process and try to keep the lines of communication open even after the mediation ends.

Power Imbalances

Power imbalances can make it challenging to negotiate in good faith during mediation. When one party holds more power than the other, it’s difficult to find a resolution that works for both parties. In these cases, it’s crucial to ensure that both parties feel heard and are given equal respect and consideration during the mediation process.

Lack of Commitment

Finally, mediation fails when one or both parties are not committed to reaching a resolution. It’s essential to go into mediation with an open mind and a desire to find a solution that works for everyone involved. Without commitment, mediation is likely to fail.

Navigating the Boundaries of Mediation

Mediation is an excellent tool for resolving disputes. However, even with the best intentions, it can fail. When mediation fails, it’s crucial to evaluate what went wrong and consider alternative options. At Rhino Mediation, we are committed to finding solutions that work for all parties involved, even when mediation fails. Contact us to learn more about our dispute resolution services.

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