Can We Mediate Even If We Don’t Get Along?

Some people think they cannot mediate their disputes because they do not get along with the other party to the dispute.  In fact, mediation is the perfect format to address conflict for people who cannot communicate, who push each other’s buttons or who simply don’t care much for the other party.   The only exception is the situation that there is a significant power imbalance, perhaps due to physical violence, and one party is not able to freely negotiate and communicate because of that imbalance.

Why is mediation in Arizona often the best format to address conflict for most people who do not get along?

First, if necessary, the whole mediation can be conducted with the parties in separate rooms.  Therefore, the disputants do not even have to see each other, if the conflict is that bad.  The parties can also separate to separate rooms after a period of time if it becomes too uncomfortable to remain in the same room.

Second, there are ground rules in mediation:  the parties agree to treat each other with respect – no interrupting and no name calling.  Every party is given as much time as they need to talk.

Third, the mediator encourages the parties to be forward-thinking and focus on solutions to problems rather than past upsets.

Fourth, the mediator is there as a neutral third party and can “referee” to make sure mediation remains productive and as pleasant as possible.

Fifth, in mediation, the mediator looks for solutions to actually repair the damaged relationship if the parties show any interest in doing same.  Reaching a solution is often a natural conduit for creating a lasting peace.

Fifth, the alternative to mediation is often litigation, which almost always makes the conflict worse.  Litigation is often filled with letters and pleadings that specifically attack the other party.  At the end of the litigation, there is at least one person who feels that he/she has lost, and that often makes matters worse.

Alona M. Gottfried is a mediator and attorney in  Scottsdale Arizona.  If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or alona(at)  This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice.  See a legal professional before making legal decisions.

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