Mediation is an effective problem-solving process because mediators bring tools and techniques to facilitate a collaborative conversation. Still, the process can be even more effective when the participants themselves promote cooperation and make necessary preparations prior to the start of the process. Below are a few tips to help you make the most of your mediation session.

Bring a Copy for Everyone
Many mediations require the review of written documents. If there is any information that will influence the decisions you make in mediation, be sure to bring a copy of those documents for everyone to see. It ensures that each person has access to the same information and helps build a common understanding among the participants.

Remain Open to Solutions
While it can be helpful to know what your own ideal resolution is, the most innovative and effective resolutions often arise out of the joint dialogue between the participants. Exploring one potential solution usually leads to others. Stay open to the possibilities by not focusing on any one solution, but instead by exploring many potential solutions.

Allow for Emotions
Often, mediation participants want to focus on solutions instead of emotions, but unexpressed or unheard emotions are typically a barrier to exploring solutions. Don’t try to shut down or avoid emotional conversations. Instead, allow for emotions to inform potential solutions.

Stay Curious
Mediation is a place for each participant to tell their story. Stay curious and develop a genuine interest in hearing it. When people feel that the other participant has heard them, they are more open to collaborative problem solving.

If you are a mediation participant, don’t leave everything up to the mediator. Be sure to contribute to a spirit and atmosphere of collaboration and trust, and you will experience a much more effective mediation process.