Getting into a dispute with a business partner can often feel like the end of the road. But you do not necessarily have to burn those bridges or cut those ties, especially if you avoid litigation.
Mediation is one way to do so. And if you opt for this, you will soon deal with a mediator. What exactly do mediators do?
Mediators as referees
Harvard Law School discusses the way mediation works in business disputes. Essentially, the mediator acts as a sort of referee, watching over a discussion that unfolds between all involved business partners. Their duties include preventing arguments from getting out of hand and ensuring that no one is being constantly talked over. They direct discussion in a way that is helpful and productive, too.
They also provide valuable insight and opinions from the unique perspective of a third party with no horse in the race. This makes it easier for everyone to take what a mediator has to say at face value, without worrying about underlying motives.
Lack of administrative power
A mediator does not have the power that an arbitrator or a judge holds, however. They cannot make a ruling based on the information they receive, and they cannot give orders that parties have a legal obligation to follow. They can only make suggestions, which parties may then choose whether or not to use.
This is why it is important for parties to have a certain level of understanding and trust before choosing mediation. A lot of the work is done by the parties rather than whoever presides over the discussion itself.