Douglas E. Noll is a full-time neutral based in California, providing peacemaking mediation and arbitration services. He is a former trial lawyer and radio host. He serves on the AAA roster of neutrals. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. He maintains a Web site at www.nollassociates.com.
The prevailing belief among many mediators is that the market drives them to be good “settlers.” This is a myth. The mediator’s calling is deeper and greater than being a “settlement broker.” If mediators focus solely on settlement, they may be tempted to transgress the bounds of ethical propriety. This article argues that mediators provide many other services besides that of settlement broker. It also contends that by focusing on these services, mediators will be better appreciated by the parties and counsel. A good outcome will always flow from great mediation services, making deception unnecessary.
Many commercial mediators see settling cases as their primary role. One result of the focus on settling cases is that they lose sight of the many other services they provide while mediating a case. These include: (1) convening the mediation; (2) hearing the parties’ stories, (3) showing compassion and empathy, (4) providing leadership, (5) de-escalating conflict, (6) providing a fair process, (7) coaching the parties in various ways, (8) assisting them with their decision making, (9) receiving, managin and conveying information, (10) managing offers and counteroffers, (11) reality checking, and (12) resetting “psychological anchors.”