Who’s  there

What happens

Why it matters

How you feel

Joint session- parties and mediator

Mediator describes the process and their hope to find a way for parties to reach an end to the problem


Establishes credibility as a listener and the shared goal of finding a way to end the problem

You hope this neutral understands why you are right and you hope they make the other side pay

Joint session – client’s version

tell your story unfiltered, especially including the emotional parts with  explicit blaming, while the other side listens, saying nothing

It is critical for participants to feel “I told him”, and “He heard me say what a huge problem this was and why it was his fault entirely”.  The mediator listens for what interests other than money, are at stake


Miffed to even have to be sitting together but glad for the chance to tell that jerk what a huge problems his incompetence has caused.

Joint session – opponent’s version

The other side tells how it views the problem and why it has refused to solve it

They need to feel like they have had a chance to vent also.  No one will consider ending the fight without a hearing.

The mediator listens for what interests other than money are at stake


Outraged that the lies continue.  It’s hard to be silent through this twisted version.  This mediation will never work, we are worlds apart in even describing the problem. The neutral must see right through this nonsense.


Parties separate for private mediator discussions

You tell the mediator what was wrong with the other side’s story. The mediator empathizes with you but does not fully agree.  Tactfully points out some impediments to a perfect win for you. You reemphasize how right you think you are.


The mediator needs to make sure you feel understood so you are ready for them to start moving you.

You seek and get some confirmation of the view, that the other side is the problem. The reassurance is incomplete and you get the idea that you are going to have to move to get anything done.

Mediator seeks settlement ideas

The mediator asks what you want, what you would take and why.


You say why you need a certain bottom line figure

Mediator conveys settlement ideas

The mediator tells you where the other side is dug in

See if you can help offer ideas about avenues to move the other side.

You won’t accept it but having been so long in battle you can understand why they cling to their false views.

Settlement gap narrows

Hunt for the mixture of compromises that will lead people to choose to end the dispute rather than endure litigation.  Explore the reality of the best alternative to a negotiated outcome. Disclose how painful the other side’s concessions are. 



Pressure to settle for an unreasonable amount or result. 

Joint session – closing

Settlement paperwork signed before anyone leaves


It’s over

Distasteful settlement agreement achieved. 

Alone, Soon afterwards

Reflecting on the settlement and the process


Feel used by the process and not that vindicated at all.  Having to compromise was unjust


Alone, Much Later

Remembering the whole problem and not just the settlement process


Get on with your life

Unhappy that the problem ever got to the point where mediation was needed