• Prof. Derek P Auchie

Why Mediation?

Updated: Jun 12

In my experience of conducting numerous mediations, it seems that disputes of any type can be driven by three main issues: perception, personality and communication.

Let's consider each in turn.

We all perceive the world differently. Even a concrete item such as an e-mail can, although in black and white, be perceived differently by the author and the recipient. When it comes to fluid in-person interactions, the problem of perception is amplified.

Where each party understands the perception of the other person in the dispute, this often explains their behaviour. This can help to remove ill-feeling caused by that behaviour, paving the way to discussing a solution.

We have different personalities. Some of us are calm and collected. Others are emotional and reactive. Some of us are broad-brush visionaries; others thrive on detail. Some of us like to work independently; others need support. Recognising the personality traits of those around us helps us to see how they approach an issue, and this can allow parties to understand why a particular problem has arisen and how it might be fixed.

Communication has been mentioned already. Many disputes arise, at least in part, out of misunderstandings from things written or said. Taking offence when none is intended is not unusual. Making wrong assumptions about motive from an ambiguous or badly expressed communication is common.

The mediation process allows perception, personality and communication issues to be identified, explored and recognised. That is half the battle. The other half is: what should be done about them? The practicality of mediation means that precise and bespoke solutions can be built, agreed and recorded in writing. This means that not only is the relationship repaired, similar issues are unlikely to arise in future.

Where perception, personality and communication issues exist, the law will not resolve them. This is not a criticism of the law: it is not designed to resolve these things. Indeed, a legal outcome can worsen relations, since it relies on a 'win-lose' decision, not on building bridges.

That's the answer to the question: Why Mediation? It works.