March 08, 2012
Mediation: The Benefits of Putting All Your Cards on the Table
Mediation is a transparent process, which means clients are required to share information relevant to the matter at hand—simply, informally, and relatively quickly. In contrast, when people hire traditional attorneys, the first step of a legal process is “discovery,” in which traditional attorneys must only divulge information they have to divulge, and work hard to find out what the other side might be hiding, all within a strict set of rules and requirements. The discovery phase of a traditional legal process can take a long time, and cost a lot in professional fees.
The transparent approach to information gathering is one of the many reasons why facilitative mediation is efficient, client-centered and less expensive. The big benefit of putting all your cards on the table at the beginning of a mediation process is that the other person must do the same. It’s two people agreeing to not spend time, money, and energy on the underlying facts of the matter at hand, and instead putting all those elements to bear on developing an agreement that both people can live with.
If you want to maximize the benefits of transparency, consider the following notions:
- The more information you share and the more you say yes to the other person’s information requests, the more likely you are to be treated the same in return. In this way, you’re most likely to get all the information you need to make your best decisions.
- Being transparent with information signals that you’re fully engaged in being non-adversarial; that you are focused on developing an agreement in the spirit of cooperation.
- The less professional time is spent on information gathering, the more money is saved on professional fees.
- Disclose information early and often. If anything changes in your financial or professional landscape, share it right away. This helps built trust and feelings of good faith and always makes negotiations move more efficiently.
- If someone wants information from you, relish the opportunity to say yes. The more you say yes in response to the other person’s requests, the more goodwill you’re generating. Anytime you can say yes, do it—it might mean that at a time down the road when you disagree with the other person’s view, the process will not derail but rather become fertile ground for a compromise. Too many no’s in a process and the other person is likely to see you as rigid and want to say no to you back.