Coming to mediation, clients most-asked question is, “How do we move forward and get this done?” Though some of the answer depends on the scope and complexity of issues, clients control much of the progress of mediation. They have the power to create solutions and move into a preferred future. Three tips for moving mediation forward:
- Tip 1–Picture your preferred outcome. As clients create a vision for life after divorce, they help define their expectations for the mediation. They also begin to create elements of a plan for resolving disputes.
With each expectation for the preferred future, ask, “What steps can I take to move toward my desires? What do I need from others involved?” Answers to these questions guide discussions and focus where more information is needed. Working from defined expectations provides a concrete path for moving forward.
- Tip 2–Be clear about questions or concerns. Though mediators probe the viability of proposed options for client concerns, they aren’t mind-readers. Mediators know that clients must often agree to options that aren’t their first choice, but are the best available. So, it can be difficult to differentiate between a reluctant but solid agreement and a client who agrees on the outside but is thinking “no way!” on the inside. The more the client suppresses concerns, the more he or she creates a hidden minefield–just waiting to blow.
Instead, be honest about questions or concerns. Most clients want to appear cooperative and fear creating more conflict. Yet, a working agreement requires authentic buy-in by both parties. Clients contribute to real progress as they ask questions and express genuine concerns about options being considered. The most effective mediations create solutions that will work for the long-haul. As clients bring potential issues to the forefront, they help ensure getting to effective solutions more quickly.
- Tip 3–Consider the priorities of others involved. While visioning what they want, clients also should step back and consider the preferred outcome for others–especially their children. Then, ask, “What can I do to help them achieve their desired future?” This helps define the most viable options for resolution more quickly while also create an atmosphere of good will. Critical for forward progress.
Clients create progress as they define expectations, openly express concerns, and consider others. As clients look forward, the mediation moves forward.