Who are we actually doing this for? Let’s face it, the self gratification that we as mediators get after settling a case gives us a rush only morphine can sedate. The satisfaction of having two people agree on a mutual solution is a great feeling even if that feeling is not shared by the parties or their attorneys. Elegantly scratching your signature on a legally bonding contract and knowing that you had some “small” part in it is awesome. Settling cases is a whole purpose of being a mediator, it is the reason we get up in the morning and go to bed early at night. Mediators live, and love to settle – that is a fact.
How about our clients; do we not hold some kind of an obligation to them? Some people will tell you that a successful mediation is when both parties leave unhappy. However, from personal experience I never feel good when the disputants leave unsatisfied. I like to see the smiles on peoples’ faces as they sign the contract, I like to see the relief that they get from the certainty of their decision and of the fact that tomorrow they will not be troubled by the case. I enjoy the civilized conversations after the settlement without the sarcastic remarks at one another. You can practically feel the atmosphere around you get lighter and a sense of relief seep in from every possible direction, right after those four words have been said, “We have a deal.”
There are, of course, those times when a settlement is not the answer for either side and as an ethical and fair mediator you persuade both parties to take the necessary steps in order to come back to the mediation at a later time with more discoveries, authority or whatever is necessary to settle. There probably is not a worse feeling than knowing that you have let one get away, that they could have settled and you could have been a big part of it, but instead the case went to litigation and cost both sides more money and time; worse of all it cost you the satisfaction of settling the dispute.
Mediators are a competitive bunch of people, keeping track of how many cases they have settled, how many settled before a mediation and how many after. Of course, why shouldn’t they be? Mediation is a competitive business and ones track record, aside from their education and experience, is what most attorneys look at before hiring. But do we, as mediators, really keep track in order to get new business or for our selves? I think that it’s obviously both; however, it sure does feel pretty good to know that with a higher success rate we are more likely to have the tremendous pleasure of settling yet another case, and hopefully this time both parties will be as satisfied as we are.
If you've just opened your divorce case in British Columbia, see if you and your ex can talk through your disagreements — either privately or with a professional like a...By Ben Coltrin