Mediation Now: Mediator listings for the US and Canada

How to Select a Mediator And Be Satisfied With Your Choice

Cathy Schultheis

When you have weighed the pros and cons of either putting up with a conflict or going to court, consider calling a mediator to help bridge the distance between your position and the opposing side. The first step to a successful mediation is choosing the right mediator for both parties.

What is mediation? The mediator should be able to capsulize a definition, including some of the following points. It's an informal process in which parties agree to use a neutral person -- who does not take sides -- to help people resolve the dispute themselves. With the use of ground rules, communication levels increase and parties are better able to work together to identify and resolve issues. Mediation offers the opportunity to meet across the table and use a process which can potentially result in a settlement that is as advantageous as possible for both parties. If mediation is successful, the agreement the parties reach is considered to be final and can be incorporated into a court order.

The best way to select a mediator is by referral from a trusted professional or friend. Prepare a list of your most important questions, then interview several mediators.  Some of your questions may look like this:

Look for enthusiasm in the subject matter. Measure your comfort level as you entertain the possibility of working with the mediator. This is a personal decision for each party.

When the decision to mediate is made, those in conflict want to make progress and resolve issues in a cost-effective and time-efficient manner. They want to choose someone they believe is going to help the situation proceed. How long will this take? What are the costs for the process and, just as important, how are these costs allocated? What is the mediator's philosophy, and what does the process in mediation actually look like?

Cathy Schultheis assists individuals and groups in achieving sensible and creative solutions to issues in conflict. She offer services for team building, meeting facilitation, mediation and arbitration services. Her home based business, Paralegal Services & Mediation, in historic Niwot, CO formally opened in 1987. Cathy has a 22 year paralegal background. She is active in the mediation community and is the founder of the Boulder Peer Support Group for Mediators. Call Cathy at (303) 545-8727 for more information about conflict resolution.  You may e-mail Cathy at