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Follow up by a Mediator - What are your thoughts?

When one party accepts a proposal and the other does not at the conclusion of a mediation, what type of follow up, if any, should there be by the mediator?

Please provide your thoughts/comments below.

Comments (5)

Niki L Rowe:

First: it has to do with your practice's policy.

But: My point of view:
1. The mediator would, at the end of the mediation, have offered a date for another mediation or given the clients the way to contact for another mediation.
2. If a mediator connects individually with the participants there can develop the idea that neutrality was lost.
If the mediator works from an office where there is a coordinator of the services, this coordinator should be following up with the clients. This would give the mediator feedback and give the clients the possibility of coming back if they choose.

Who made the proposal? If this is a Mediator's Proposal, and done in "double blind" fashion, the party who rejects the proposal will not know if the other party accepted it. If it is a proposal by one party, rejected by the other, there is total transparency. In either case, this should be the beginning of another negotiation. Yes, as a general rule, the mediator should follow up. Why? (1) A rejection today can turn into an acceptance tomorrow or next week. "No," should be taken to mean "not at this time." (2) The proposal can be tweaked or augmented, or subtracted from, to be made acceptable. (3) Staying in touch with the parties allows the mediator to learn more about why the rejected proposal was unacceptable, and what might make it a proposal that can be accepted. (4) Staying in touch with the parties tells the parties that the mediator cares, that she is invested in the negotiation process, that she cares about and is committed to forging a settlement between the parties. The result of this follow-up should bring the parties closer to resolution, or at least closer to understanding what needs to be done to get there.
Judith Meyer


On a number of occasions, the parties did not reach a resolution during the mediation session. When that happens, I generally will follow up with phone calls. As long as they keep talking, there is hope that a resolution can occur. Disputes have resolved as a result of my persistence.

In cases where it is obvious that one or both parties have no intention to settle, no way, no how, my follow up is not as persistent.

Eric Holtzman:

Here's what once worked for me. It took a couple of weeks, but it ultimately resolved favorably: "Among the promises I made to you all when we started our session was that I would never consciously do anything to waste anyone's time or money. I also asked you to trust me, being mindful of my promises, to be the one who'd determine when a true impasse has been reached. You had some doubts but you (albeit reluctantly) agreed. You're closer to resolving this than you think you are. Far closer. In my judgment, declaring an impasse now would be a disservice to all of us. You've all worked so very hard. You've all made great progress -- even more progress than you think you have. I understand that everyone is tired and everyone is frustrated that we've not yet reached a conclusion. You all feel spent and that you've given all to this process that you can possibly give. But let's not permit that your hard work be for naught. Can we break for today? Can we meet again in 3 or 4 days? Can I call each side separately during that hiatus to ensure that the chances of bringing this to a resolution are maximized? I would not ask to do this if I did not have a reasonably high degree of confidence that these efforts will bear fruit. Thanks so very, very much for trusting this process."

Anytime I have a mediation that does not result in a settlement, I always follow up with the parties 3-6 weeks later. It is always appreciated by the parties and they may have just needed some time to assimilate the information they learned at the mediation. It can be like drinking from a firehose for some parties.

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