I successfully mediated a case last week involving frozen pipes bursting, an unhappy tenant, and a landlord. The parties and I talked together for quite some time about all of the issues involved in this case around a table. I summarized the perspective of the landlord and the perspective of the tenant and emphasized to the parties that they did not have to agree with each other. They just had to understand each other's point of view. I also met separately in confidential session with each party. Ultimately, after mediating for several hours, they came to an agreement that I wrote up for them.
The tenant hugged me and the landlord gratefully shook my hand. They both walked away relieved. They appreciated having closure. They both wanted to move on. The resolution was a win/win for each of them. Each party was happy with the mediated agreement and walked away a little bit wiser.
Mediation works in large part because each party has the opportunity to be heard and to be understood -- and to know that what he or she has to say matters. Isn't that what all of us want?
Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.