How to get a win-win outcome in Mediation

win win outcome mediation

People often talk about the goal of achieving a win-win outcome in mediation.  But is it really possible and if so, how?

Win-win outcomes vs splitting the difference

In some mediations, a win-win outcome is seen as splitting the difference.  For example, in a parenting mediation if one party wants the children to spend 7 nights with them every fortnight and the other wants it to be 5 nights, compromising on 6 nights is splitting the difference.

In a property mediation, if one party wants $100,000 and the other is offering $200,000, settling on $150,000 is splitting the difference.

Why splitting the difference in mediation is not a win-win outcome

The problem with splitting the difference, is that it fails to look at the underlying concerns, goals, needs and worries of each party.

There is a very famous example given by Fisher and Ury in their book Getting to Yes that involves two sisters fighting over an orange. 

The simple solution to the problem – splitting the difference – was to cut the orange in half. The problem is, it didn’t meet either of the sister’s needs.

But spending more time understanding why each sister wanted the orange would have shown that one sister wanted all of the juice from the orange, and the other wanted the skin.

By simply cutting it in half, neither had their needs met. 

Why is a win-win outcome important in mediation?

Parties attending family mediation are often going to have a continuing relationship of some sort, especially if they have children (even adult children). If one feels they have ‘lost’ it can set a negative the tone for their future co-parenting relationship. 

If, instead, both parties feel that their concerns were heard and acknowledged and their needs were met, then that is more likely to lead to a better relationship.

How can we achieve a win-win outcome in mediation?

The key to a win-win outcome in mediation is preparation.  Your mediator needs to really understand your underlying concerns, worries, needs and fears.

Our mediation process involves a 2 hour preparation meeting with each party, using the Our Family in Two Homes resource, to help us really understand what makes you tick, and what makes you lose sleep at night.   You just can’t do that when you meet someone for the first time on the day of mediation, or even in an hour.

If you choose child-inclusive mediation or child-focussed mediation our Child Consultant will be on hand to explore your children’s needs and worries and how you can best meet those as parents.

If you work with us in property mediation with our financial specialist, we can explore the reality of what your financial futures will look like.

By engaging deeply, we can look at the “how” now just the “what”.  Sometimes it isn’t just about time, it’s about scheduling.  Sometimes it isn’t just about money, it’s about timing.

Let us help you achieve a truly win-win outcome in your mediation. 

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