Mediation’s Most Common Mistake

by
JoAnne Donner, MS, CDFA, CDC, CDPC
Mediator/Mediation Coach/Divorce Coach
Donner Mediation and Coaching, LLC

One of the most common comments I hear when talking to people about their experience in mediation is, “I just wanted to get it over with.” I hear that with both sadness and concern.

When someone participates in a mediation session, that day is one of the most important days of their life. The decisions made that day affect their and their family’s financial well-being, emotional health, and overall lifestyle. The day of your mediation session is not the time to be vulnerable to the pressures of a fast-moving and potentially overwhelming process. It is the time to be prepared, focused and informed.

If you are going into mediation represented by counsel, make sure your attorney takes the time to prepare you in detail for the mediation process. If you are going into mediation pro se, or without counsel, make sure you enlist the services of a mediation coach who will meet with you several days before your mediation session to familiarize you with the traps, tactics and techniques of mediation. A professional mediation coach will listen to you talk about “your side of the story” from a neutral, impartial perspective and help you prepare, practice and polish the presentation of your story. What you say in your mediation session should serve you well and strategically move you along to your targeted outcome.

Maintaining focus throughout the mediation session is a key to reaching a desirable resolution and something your coach can help you with. There are techniques you can use to re-focus your attention if you find yourself tiring and heading for a sinking spell. There are also strategies you can use if the session, itself, loses focus and begins heading down side paths that are counterproductive. One of these tactics is to consider asking for a break. A break at the right time can revitalize you. It can also break the momentum of a discussion that is overwhelming you or not heading your way.

Being prepared for mediation and being knowledgeable about the dynamics of the process can make the difference between a mediation outcome you are pleased with or a mediation outcome that sadly misses the mark in meeting your financial and emotional needs. Get the preparation you deserve. Your future could depend on it.

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