Evaluative or facilitative?
Within the mediation industry two styles of mediation are predominant.
A facilitative mediator will generally concentrate on advancing communication between the parties, in the expectation that the parties will be able to resolve their disputes once they are on speaking terms. He/she seldom has specialist knowledge of the substance of the dispute and does not become involved in the content of the dispute. Facilitative mediators are particularly suitable for mediations between parties where escalation of emotions are the main cause of the dispute
An evaluative mediator does become actively involved with the content of the dispute. How is it possible that the parties have such different perceptions of the cause of their dispute? Why do they seem to have such different expectations of the outcome if the case goes to trial, whilst they both have the same knowledge of the facts and the law? An important tool of the evaluative mediator is “reality testing” and mirroring. He/she will spend much time speaking with the parties in separate confidential sessions (a “caucus:”) discussing with them their best and worst case scenarios if their case does not settle. Of course the evaluative mediator also pays attention to the emotional aspects if necessary. An evaluative mediator may give careful hints for possible solutions and or even a mediators opinion on the merits if the parties request him/her to do so.
In business disputes the parties usually prefer an evaluative mediator.
In view of my professional background and my personality I am more an evaluative, than a facilitative mediator. As for the logistics however I am facilitative. The parties decide where and when to mediate, for how long and whether or not they need more than one session.