Bellevue, WA Neighborhood Mediation Program
Source File: http://www.bellevuewa.gov/mediation_intro.htm
What is mediation?
Mediation is an informal and private way for people to work through a disagreement. The voluntary process encourages solutions that are acceptable to all participants. Impartial mediators guide people through a step-by-step process, which allows a candid and thorough exploration of the issues and options. Most people who elect to mediate find lasting solutions and move toward a more peaceful future.
When you call the Bellevue Mediation Program, you get:
- Dispute resolution for
- Neighbors (views, boundary lines, noise, homeowner associations, repeated annoyances, building construction)
- Work Groups
- Merchants and Consumers
- Landlords and Tenants
- Parents and their Teens
- Code Compliance Issues
- An objective "ear." A trained conflict resolution specialist will listen to each party's concerns. This impartial "third party" will help assess the situation and develop options and approaches for improving it.
- Real solutions. Solutions generated from the people involved are more satisfying and durable than imposed settlements.
- Less tension. Increased and effective communication improves relationships and diminishes annoyances.
This service is free to residents and business owners in the City of Bellevue.
Why Choose Mediation?
Most people who elect to mediate find solutions. Even if someone has been unsuccessful in resolving a conflict in the past, the presence of a qualified impartial person can lead to successful outcomes. Because mediation provides participants with a safe and confidential environment, a candid exploration of the issues and options usually results in fair and durable settlement of issues.
During mediation, participants maintain control over the outcome. The mediator does not make decisions for people but, rather, assists them in creating and evaluating their own options. Mediation promotes the premise that the participants in a conflict are the most competent to create and evaluate solutions.
Mediators encourage participants to address the needs and concerns of everyone involved. When needs and concerns are considered, satisfaction and voluntary compliance is high; and the likelihood of repeated or escalated incidents is greatly reduced.
Mediation provides for a more peaceful future. Effective communication between people has powerful and lasting effects on relationships. Once a problem is resolved cooperatively and the lines of communication are reopened, tension is significantly decreased.
How do you prepare for mediation? Mediation is successful when everyone involved is willing to consider other points of view and a variety of options. Come to mediation prepared to share all relevant information with the other person. The mediator is not a judge, so witnesses and evidence are not necessary. It is important to bring all relevant information and documents that will help the other person understand your perspective.
Also, come prepared to listen and keep an open mind. Even if you disagree with the other person’s position, the best solutions are designed to meet the concerns of all the people involved.
Mediation is a time to reach agreements, so be sure that all of the people who are necessary to make--and keep--agreements are present. While you are waiting for your first session, do not take any actions that may escalate the dispute. Beginning judicial or administrative proceedings or publicizing the dispute during this time may escalate the problem and decrease the potential for a positive outcome.
How to Resolve Conflict
Before you meet, think about the issues troubling you and ask yourself:
- What is bothering me about the situation?
- Why is it important for the situation to change?
- What do I think the other person might need in the situation?
- What do I need?
Keep it future-focused. Even though a past or ongoing event disturbs you, finding fault and blaming is usually unproductive. People often respond defensively when they think they are being attacked. If you think about how you would like things to change, you are more likely to receive a positive response.
Express your concerns rather than your solutions. Before you meet with the other person, think of a way to state your concern in a non-threatening way. If the concern is stated generally, rather than specifically, it is likely to be less threatening. For example:
"I am concerned about our shared use of the easement." is less threatening than: "I want you to keep your car off the easement."
Express your needs. Help others understand why you are asking for the change and they are more likely to accommodate you. By expressing your need, you open the door to more possible solutions:
"It’s important to me to exit my driveway quite early in the morning."
Encourage the other person to tell you his or her point of view. Realistic and durable solutions accommodate everyone’s needs. Ask others to express their point of view:
"What are your needs with the easement?"
Listen! Listen! Listen! Even if you disagree with what is being said, it’s important to listen with an open mind. Be sure people know they have been heard and understood. Restate the content of their point of view. Try to be as accurate as possible. It is much easier for people to move forward toward a solution if they know their needs will be considered.
Ask for options. By engaging the other person in developing options, you will increase the number of ideas and options to be considered.
"If we could find a solution that allowed me to exit my driveway early in the morning, and also addressed your needs, would you consider it?"
Evaluate the options and summarize the agreements. Once you have chosen the best alternative, ask some "what if" questions. Make sure the option is realistic, and consider contingency plans. When you have settled on a solution, summarize the agreement. Include specific expectations and time lines when appropriate.