Are We Mediating or Negotiating?

Are We Mediating or Negotiating?

In order to succeed in life, we learn early on the techniques of negotiation. We start negotiating as babies, knowing that when we coo in a certain way, we get a favorable response. When we say mama or dada, our parents respond with smiles, hugs and kisses, so we begin to learn that if we give others what they want, we will get what we want.

As we get older, we start learning how to negotiate verbally. Our parents tell us that if we eat our vegetables, we will make them happy and we can get a toy (or whatever makes us happy). Or, if we do what they want, such as cleaning our room, we get a certain CD that we have wanted. As we mature into adolescence and early adulthood, we find that art of negotiation comes in handy when we want something more substantial. For example, we will do anything in order to get our own car and will offer to do things for years to come in order to have that special transportation. As adults, we have already learned that negotiation is the basis for acquisition.

In business, negotiation is used multiple times daily in order to attain whatever is necessary to make a deal. In marriage, negotiation becomes the art of staying together, and when marriages don’t work out, we see that our negotiation skills are what we need in order to get out of the marriage as intact as possible. It appears that negotiation is central to our lives, since we find that we are forever negotiating in one form or another. So is there a difference between negotiation and mediation, or are they the same?

Negotiation* is defined as:

1.conferring, discussing, or bargaining to reach agreement
2.to make arrangements for, settle, or conclude (a business transaction, treaty, etc.)
3.to transfer, assign, or sell (negotiable paper)
4.to succeed in crossing, surmounting, moving through, etc.

Whereas, Mediation* is:

1.The act of mediating; intervention.
2.The state of being mediated.
3.The act or process of mediating; friendly or diplomatic intervention, usually by consent or invitation, for settling differences between persons, nations, etc.

To recap, negotiation is the art of reaching an agreement with another party through discussion and compromise, and mediation is ending a disagreement between at least two parties by use of a middle person not having anything to do with the disagreement. We use negotiation regularly in everyday life, but we use mediation only when we can’t come to an agreement with the other party directly. While both methodologies employ similar aspects, mediation utilizes a more formal protocol.

In our everyday lives, we employ negotiation in order to help facilitate what we want and to make our lives easier. In a marriage, the art of negotiation is paramount to allowing the marriage to continue. When marriages can’t continue, for whatever reason, it is usually a sign that the negotiations have broken down, and mediation becomes necessary in order to allow the marriage to either continue or end. Counselors serve as objective third parties (mediators) with appropriate training who essentially assist the parties in finding answers and in learning to negotiate their problems. When counseling doesn’t work, which means the parties no longer wish to negotiate their issues, then mediation is the next step, orchestrated by Family Mediators who assist the parties to negotiate the marriage’s end and allow the participants to continue with their separate lives.

Ending a marriage by mediation allows the participants to leave the entity with a measure of respect and an enhanced ability to move on with their lives. While “moving on” is very difficult for most people who have been married many years and who elect to end the marriage, it is a necessary and meaningful result. Those people who can’t “move on”, are strongly urged to get counseling to assist them in their new roles.

Howard Chusid, Ed.D, LMHC, NCC is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor, a National Certified Counselor, and a Board Certified Professional Counselor. He is also a Supreme Court Certified Family Mediator, Circuit Civil Mediator, a Qualified Arbitrator and a Parent Coordinator. Howard works with a group of caring professionals who offer a cooperative approach to divorce and other family disputes. Each professional provides the support services necessary to navigate the many complex issues people face during the confrontational times that break up creates.

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