Mediation is a tried and tested method of resolving conflicts professionally. The mediator guides the parties (almost like a pilot) through various stages or phases of the mediation process:
Introduction to mediation
The framework conditions for the mediation are discussed and clarified. The parties and mediator conclude the mediation agreement, which forms the basis of the joint work.
Collection of topics and information
The parties agree on the topics to be discussed in mediation.
The data and information that both parties need to clarify individual areas of conflict and to negotiate are collected and exchanged.
The interests and needs behind the respective positions of the parties are worked out. The aim of this stage is to gain a better understanding of one's own interests as well as those of the other party. This broadens the view of possible solutions that would not be considered on the basis of the parties' respective positions alone.
Proposed solutions (options)
Ideas and proposed solutions are collected, then evaluated and checked for practical feasibility.
The parties discuss the proposals and negotiate a provisional solution.
Provisional solutions are reviewed to determine whether they can and should be finalised. The solutions found are agreed in a legally binding manner.
The principle of "winning through mediation" applies to everything
In contrast to a legal dispute, both sides should win in mediation. In order to initially end or prevent so-called trench warfare or the escalation of a conflict, it is the mediator's task to create a dialogue atmosphere in which blame, verbal attacks and condemnation of the other side are avoided. By using appropriate communication techniques on the part of the mediator (active listening, changing perspectives, structuring, role-playing, meta-communication, reframing, etc.), creative conflict resolution options can be developed as the mediation progresses. The aim is to broaden the parties' perspective in order to enable them to develop new, previously unimaginable solutions independently or with the active support of the mediator. Both parties should benefit from this. A win-win result - see https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Win-Win - should be the aim. The influential Harvard concept represents the method of fact-based negotiation with the aim of reaching a constructive and peaceful agreement in conflict situations that is beneficial to both parties to the conflict.
A classic example of this is the dispute over an orange: two parties fight over an orange. If one side gets a larger share, the other side loses accordingly. They often agree to split the orange down the middle and consider this to be a fair and just solution. However, in a trusting and respectful discussion atmosphere, it would come to light that one person would like to use the flesh of the orange for a fruit salad, while the other would like to make a hot orange tea with the peel. As a result, one person gets the flesh, the other the peel and both feel like winners. This has created a classic win-win situation.
Similar to this example, the aim of mediation in family law and inheritance law conflicts is to achieve a win-win outcome. Particularly in the case of conflicts within the family, however, it is sometimes of great benefit to all parties involved if the underlying conflicts between individual parties can also be resolved sustainably.
The authors Montada/Kals distinguish between ending the conflict and resolving the conflict. Ending a conflict can also involve ending a relationship or seeking revenge. For example, an inheritance dispute can be ended with the words: "Okay, you get your parents' house - just as you suggested. But I don't want to have anything more to do with you and I'll pay you back at some point". The conflict over the joint parents' inheritance was thus ended out of court and amicably, but the deep structure of the conflict remains unaffected. Settling the conflict, on the other hand, goes one step further: the relationship between the parties can be placed on a new, better footing, characterised by greater mutual respect and increased trust in each other. An interpersonal relationship between siblings that may have been strained for decades, which was the actual cause of the inheritance dispute (deep structure of the conflict), can be sustainably improved through successful mediation. With the help of mediation involving emotions, creativity and questions about values and feelings of justice, the parties are given an opportunity to develop personally and improve relationships (especially within the family). Through mediation, a person can gain new skills that can enrich their everyday life. Consequently, the benefits of mediation are not necessarily purely material. Both parties can also gain as people.