This week I will be President of the Alberta Family Mediation Society at the annual Conference in Edmonton. Even though there is a great deal of responsibility attached to this role, I am eager to assume it because I strongly believe in the process of mediation for a number of reasons.
1. Puts the power to make changes into the hands of those who are involved in the situation rather than with a stranger who does not know the background or the people who will be affected.
2. Provides an environment that offers each person an opportunity to be open and honest about the things that concern them and what they would prefer to have happen in the future.
3. Allows the time necessary to state and investigate the details of what is important to each individual.
4. Offers a shared and cost-effective way to obtain assistance from one trained professional who will meet with everyone together rather than hiring professionals who meet with the individuals alone and then try to represent them to a third party.
5. Helps to reduce stress that can result from using ineffective strategies or other frustrating systems.
6. Assists with developing better understanding and communication skills that will enhance rather than further divide relationships.
7. Gives confidentiality, dignity and privacy to those involved.
8. Outlines responsibility appropriately.
9. Focusses on resolution of issues and solutions for the future rather than on past problems and continued disagreement.
10. Documents all mutually agreed upon solutions in a clearly written document that each person can respect and value.
Often, when people have problems, they rush to lawyers and the Courts thinking that they will "win" because they are "right". But Court is not like "Judge Judy" where everyone has an opportunity to tell the story and then enjoy closure before the show is over in thirty minutes.
I have often heard clients as well as prominent judges and lawyers state that the Court system doesn't work the way that everyone thinks it "should". In fact, there is no "win" when you spend months or years fighting with others while watching your hard-earned money disappear.
In contrast, the mediation process offers you hope that you can have significant input into resolving issues and creating agreements that you will want to honour. And if you wish to take this a step further, you can ask a judge to grant a Court Order that reflects the agreements that you have made.
Perhaps you have a family business problem. Maybe you are facing a difficult situation such as divorce and don't know how to set up a Parenting Plan for your children. Maybe you are upset about the neighbours and don't know how to deal with this. No matter what you are facing when it comes to dispute with others, I do hope that mediation is one of the first things that you will consider because it allows you to retain control of the outcome for you, your family and your finances.