Helping parties in conflict create a win-win solution

An Olive Branch gave light to past conflicts in my life, business and personal, and will inform how I attempt to resolve (or at least think about) conflict in the future.

What is Mediation?
Mediation is an informal, flexible process that uses a neutral third party to help people resolve an intractable issue. Mediation enables the parties themselves to craft a solution that they are willing and able to implement.

What is a Mediator?
A mediator is a trained individual who facilitates negotiation and guides the resolution of conflicts between parties in a dispute. Mediators do not take sides in a dispute; they help people avoid lengthy court battles, extraordinary legal fees, and long-lasting bitterness. In cases where the parties to a conflict have already engaged the services of lawyers, the mediator plays an important neutral role. Any agreement reached by the parties is reviewed by each person’s attorney to ensure that the person’s legal rights are protected.

What Does An Olive Branch Mediator Do?
Our mediators employ an interest-based approach that systematically offers parties a structure to work through a conflict. We help people reach their own agreement; we are not judges and cannot determine facts that happened in the past. Instead, we try to improve things for the future.

Our mediators begin by inviting each party to describe the conflict from their perspective. The mediator moves the discussion along by asking questions, clarifying each person’s issues, asking for more information, and helping the parties learn from each other.

Following the description of the conflict, our mediators work toward identifying each party’s issues and interests. This stage concludes with a joint summary of the key issues that need to be addressed and each person’s needs/interests related to those issues. When the parties affirm that this problem-solving statement captures the situation, the mediator moves to the next stage, option generation.

In option generation, the mediator helps the parties brainstorm ideas that they think may help resolve the issue, at least from their perspective. In this stage, we encourage people to share ALL ideas even if they seem unrealistic. We also ask them to think creatively, suspend judgment of options, to not search for just one answer, and to suggest options that meet the other party’s interests as well as their own.

Our mediator then helps the parties evaluate the options through a reality testing process. As the options are explored and refined, the parties themselves craft an agreement. (An Olive Branch mediators have a 95% agreement rate!). Agreements are written statements in common language detailing who will do what, where, when, and how.

When is Mediation Needed?
Mediation is needed in a difficult situation where two or more parties strongly disagree about a situation they are involved with. Each thinks the other has stopped being reasonable and seems to be out to do as much damage as they can. Lawyers are called; court dates are set; angry outbursts or silent stone-walling replaces productive communication.

Amazingly enough, a mediator can often resolve these disputes within a matter of hours by guiding the parties to craft an agreement in which all are winners. Disputes can arise in practically all aspects of human interaction: the workplace, organizations such as churches and other nonprofits, marriages and families, and the neighborhood or community.

Examples of situations where mediation is used:

  • Factual disputes
  • Procedural matters
  • Relationship and communication problems
  • Values-based issues

If you or your organization is caught in one of these difficult situations, please call to discuss this with one of our intake people. (Please allow us to call the other party in the dispute—it is an important part of our process.) We can usually set up mediation within a few days. You will not need your attorney at the mediation, but we will want her/him to review any agreement made to ensure your legal rights are being protected. The key to our mediation process is that the parties make the agreement.

Let’s Talk!
Please call to discuss your situation with our Intake Person:
(412) 99Olive, (412) 996-5483