Open the Mediation
With the best possible location to create the right atmosphere, and a few well thought-out ground rules prepared in advance, the mediator is now ready to open the mediation. Opening the mediation sets the tone for the remainder of the session, so, it needs to be presented confidently and directly. There should be no room for interpretation by the participants.
Example, Opening Statement for Mediation
“Thank you both for attending this morning. My role here today is to help you find some common ground and to see if we can come up with a resolution that we can all agree to. If as a group we cannot come up with a resolution, I will then decide as the mediator what the next step will be. Before we get started, there are a few ground rules."
State your ground rules. Look at each participant and get agreement on his or her understanding of the ground rules. For example, “Bill, do you understand the ground rules?" Get his agreement and then turn to the other party, “Sharon, do you understand the ground rules?" With both sides agreeing up front to the ground rules, the session should go smoother. However, do not move beyond the ground rules if there is any hesitation by either person.
As part of the opening, you can also briefly outline the process you plan on using.
“I’m going to ask each of you individually to present your point of view. The other person must listen to what is being said. To ensure this, I’m going to ask the other person to restate what was just said. So, for example: Bill, you will complete presenting your point of view around a question I have asked; Sharon, you will have to restate what Bill just said. Is that process clear to both of you?"
Do not move off this understanding of the restating skill as it is a big part of the mediation process. Restating helps clear up any misunderstandings and forces better listening.
“In addition, as we move along today, I will also be asking each of you to present solutions to some of the problems brought up. As part of your solutions, I would like to hear what you believe are the possible consequences of your solutions being implemented. We will also follow the same restating process that I just brought up. All right, let’s get started. Bill I’ll start with you."
This gives you a brief sense of a simple, yet effective mediation opening. Gaining participation through active listening and respectful communication will go a long way toward achieving a successful outcome.