Negotiation takes place throughout the mediation session.  The mediator will work with the parties to define the issues in dispute, to narrow the parties’ differences, and to move the parties towards a resolution that serves the best interests of the parties. The mediator may take detailed notes and/or ask many questions during negotiations to assure that he/she fully understands the parties’ positions and any compromises that may be reached.  Negotiations will focus on any issues that may be in dispute, and are not necessarily limited to financial considerations.  The mediator may also suggest issues for consideration and possible negotiation that have not previously been discussed by the parties.

 Joint Session/Plenary Session:

Typically, the parties will meet together in the same room at the start and conclusion of the mediation session.  Joint sessions can also occur throughout the negotiations if the mediator determines that this is helpful to the process.  The mediator will guide the discussions in joint sessions to assure that they are productive rather than destructive.  Joint sessions are beneficial because the parties can communicate directly with each other and better understand the underlying interests.  Joint sessions also allow the parties an opportunity to “get off their chests” the underlying emotions and other intangible drivers of disputes – to “clear the air” and then re-focus the discussion on possible solutions.

 Private Session/Caucus:

During the course of the mediation session, the mediator may determine that it is better if the parties are separated so that they may speak more freely.  At that point, the mediator will guide the parties into separate rooms and then meet privately with them.  During these private sessions, the mediator and the parties may discuss the strengths and weaknesses of their positions, other issues that the parties may not have considered, possible offers of compromise, and similar matters.

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