What Mediation Should Be

Article excerpt

What Mediation Should Be Mediation Success: Get It Out, Get It Over, and Get Back to Business By Amy Lieberman. Paperback. $19.95. ISBN 1475012039 and 13:9781475012033 www.insightemployment.com/pg29.cfm. 158 pages. The book is available online.

In her new book, Mediation Success: Get It Out, Get It Over, and Get Back to Business, Amy Lieberman, an experienced employment mediator and a past chair of the Alternative Dis - pute Resolution Section of the State Bar of Arizona, shares her approach to conflict management and settling disputes through mediation when disputes cannot be avoided. The book contains numerous examples drawn from her own practice that vividly demonstrate that settlement is not just about the money.

A mediator's style is, to a great extent, a product of his or her own personality and comfort level with the many faces of conflict. Nevertheless, one can learn much by studying the style of successful mediators. In this book, Ms. Lieberman, whose style is one of genuine warmth and empathy, reveals how she deals with legal and personal interests and the emotional components of conflict. As you read the book you will feel like you are actually hearing her talk to the parties.

The book begins with a discussion of the goal of mediation. Most people approach the process with either a win-lose or "win-win" mindset. Yet most disputes, whether in the workplace or otherwise, are not battles that need to be won, but simply problems that need a solution.

The notion of "win-win" solutions has had a place in mediation ever since Roger Fisher and William Ury published their best-seller Getting to YES: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In over 30 years ago. Their de scription of mediation as a process that focuses on the "real interests" of the parties and seeks mu tually beneficial outcomes evolved into the cliché "win-win." Although a more desirable paradigm than "win-lose," "win-win" still leaves the parties thinking in terms of winning, with all the baggage that implies.

Instead, Ms. Lieberman advocates the idea of reaching a resolution that both parties "can live with." This is the theme of the book. With this as the goal of mediation, the parties can get on with their business and personal lives. Though Ms. Lieberman's model of mediation is not ground breaking, how she has used it in her mediation practice may be a real revelation to many mediators, particularly attorney mediators who tend to rely on a legal analysis of probable litigation outcomes as their primary tool.

The author divides the mediation process into four steps: (1) get it go - ing; (2) get it out; (3) get it over; and (4) resolve the conflict. When lawyers and mediators talk about "getting the mediation going," they often mean the mechanics of the process, like agreeing on a mediator, or a date and location for the mediation. …