When we say mediation, we are referring to an informal, voluntary, and confidential process by which an impartial third party (the Ombuds), guides communication between two or more individuals who are part of the UC Merced community, to help them resolve a conflict or dispute, or to reach an understanding or agreement.
Mediation is a voluntary process and requires that both/all participants first meet individually once or twice with an Ombuds to discuss their concerns and prepare for a mediated discussion. At any point in this process, participants may opt-out, and the Ombuds reserves the right not to move forward with mediation if they believe it might not be a helpful next step.
Mediation is governed by California Evidence Code sections 1115-1128, which provides that statements made during mediation are confidential and inadmissible against another party in any subsequent non-criminal proceeding. The UC Merced’s Office of the Ombuds does not maintain copies of mediated agreements between parties. If the parties reach a written agreement, only the parties will receive copies of the final resolution.
Preparing for Mediation
When preparing for a mediation you may want to take these questions into consideration. You may not have all the answers, and your answers may change during the process, but it is still helpful to consider these questions ahead of time:
- What is the conflict really about for you? How does your view change, if at all, when you think about it from the other party’s point of view?
- Are some of the problems caused by hurt feelings or misunderstandings?
- What issues do you and the other party agree about? What do you disagree about?
- Are there objective standards both parties could agree on that might help resolve to dispute?
- What would you need to feel satisfied with the outcome of the mediation? What do you think the other party needs to feel satisfied?
- How comfortable are you with the risks of not reaching an agreement?
- If you don’t reach an agreement, what is most likely to happen?
How to Approach a Mediation
- Be mindful that you will hear things you disagree with and maybe asked difficult questions.
- Try to keep an open mind and be willing to consider various options for resolution.
- Although you may feel the other party is wrong about some things, it is helpful to try to understand their point of view.
- Listen carefully to what the other person is saying, look for things that you do agree about.
- Treat one another with respect
- It is not about winning, but rather a satisfactory resolution.
The content above has been adapted from the ABA Dispute Resolution Mediation Guide.
Preparing For Your Mediation- Mediate.com
Communication Skills Checklist - Office of the Ombuds, UCSF
Finding Common Ground- Story Corps; Cheraton Love & Jim White
How to Argue Civilly- Joseph Grenney; VitalSmarts/Crucial Conversations