In an article just published in the Forbes Leadership Forum, I outline four counterintuitive strategies that harness the strengths of mediation rather than treating it as litigation light:
1. Let the other side pick the mediator – agreeing to a mediator the other side likes can work in your favor, and save time and money to boot.
2. Don’t argue about who is right – exchange views on the merits, but don’t let substantive disagreements hijack the process; remember that your goal in mediating is to reach a favorable settlement, not to win an argument.
3. Leave the litigators at home – many litigators are good at settlement, but settlement calls for a different skill set and mindset than litigation; a separate settlement track allows you to use a diplomat to negotiate peace while the generals continue to fight the war.
4. Deal with hard issues last – lock in a deal on a key term, usually money, and build the rest of the agreement on that foundation; even hard issues tend to fall into place once the parties believe they have a deal.