Mediation is Finding Common Ground

Mediation is Finding Common Ground

Mediation is more than two people just talking about what they believe is right or wrong.  It is a process of each telling their view of events, presenting facts and then listening to what the other party has to say.  It’s a sharing of feelings and point of view.  Each person hears how the other sees the situation.  It allows an opening of possibilities that can lead to resolution.

Laura and Bill (not their real names) came to mediation to resolve a dispute regarding back rent and a broken lease.  Bill needed a room to rent while attending school.  He was anxious to find an affordable place near his college.  Laura had a room open in her house and Bill was excited to find something in the right location.  Prior to this his commute had been quite long and tiring.  He was happy to have a private bath and a shared kitchen.

The terms of the lease were written in a contract which both parties reviewed together.  Bill believed he had found the right situation for himself and Laura now had all her rooms filled.  Bill paid several months’ rent in advance convinced he would be there through the entire year.  Unfortunately, before the first month had passed Bill became unhappy with the arrangements.  He felt that Laura had not disclosed all the circumstances of the living arrangements.  He was feeling the lack of privacy and too much traffic in and out of the house.  He soon realized he’d made a mistake and wanted out of the lease.

Bill approached Laura with his concerns, requesting to be let out of the lease.  Laura at first tried to address the concerns and talk about the differences of opinion regarding the situation.  It was her intention to keep her tenant and try to resolve the circumstances rather than immediately allow the breaking of a lease.  Eventually the disagreement became heated between the two and Laura agreed to allow Bill to find a person to take over his lease.  She would keep the money he paid until a replacement was found.

Bill was happy with her offer but was unable to find someone to take his place.  He did however, find another room to rent so he intentionally broke the lease and walked away from his current situation.  When the two came to mediation both parties agreed with most of the facts of the story.  Bill concurred that he had broken the lease.  Laura agreed she owed him some money.  The difference of opinion stood with the amount that was owed back to Bill.  It had taken Laura some time to find a new renter after Bill left.  Each of them had a case for the amount they believed was owed.  In the end, with the active assistance of the mediator, these two-people found a monetary amount they could both accept.

In the end, Laura and Bill didn’t necessarily feel great about the outcome but they left the mediation room behaving civilly toward each other.  More importantly, they were satisfied because they had participated in a process that allowed them to make their own choices and decisions, and they were glad that this dispute, which had been hanging over them, was now over.