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Impact of Mediator Styles on Bargaining Interactions

By Charles Craver

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Lawyers and business persons endeavor to negotiate business deals and to resolve on-going disputes regularly. In most cases, they are able to achieve agreements on their own. Nonetheless, when they encounter difficulties, they should not hesitate to request the assistance of neutral third parties. When they contemplate the appointment of such persons, they should carefully consider the mediator styles they think would optimally reflect their own negotiator styles. Would they prefer Facilitative Mediators, Evaluative Mediators, or Transformative Mediators? How might those diverse approaches affect their interactions?

Professional mediators possess many common traits, no matter which approach they employ. They are usually objective and fair-minded individuals. They possess excellent communication skills. They are good, active listeners, and assertive speakers. Most are adept readers of nonverbal signals. They possess good interpersonal skills that enable them to interact effectively with persons with diverse personalities. They also understand the bargaining process, and the ways in which they can enhance that process.

Most mediators employ one of three different styles. Facilitative Mediators endeavor to reopen blocked communication channels and generate direct inter-party talks that will help the participants formulate their own accords. Evaluative Mediators tend to focus more on the substantive terms involved. They try to determine the terms they think would be most acceptable to the parties, and work to induce the parties to accept those terms. Transformative Mediators seek to demonstrate to participants that they possess power over their final outcomes and to generate mutual respect between negotiators that will enhance their ability to solve future problems on their own.

During extended mediation interactions, many neutrals employ techniques associated with the different styles. They may begin in a facilitative manner, employ some transformative techniques to help the parties preserve on-going relationships, and occasionally suggest the substantive terms they think the participants should accept.

Impact of Mediator Styles on Bargaining Interactions By Charles B. Craver


Copyright © 2015 Charles B. Craver
Copyright ©   2015  The Negotiator Magazine
The Negotiator Magazine  May 2015