The Negotiator As A Mediator

Mediation usually involves some form of important intervention by a neutral third party who cannot impose a settlement but assists the parties to secure one. A mediator becomes necessary when parties on their own cannot reach a negotiated settlement. It is important to know that the entire process of mediation has negotiation at the heart of it.

The negotiator as mediator must acknowledge that:
  1. Both parties have legitimate interests that are important to them.

  2. Interests, unlike wants, may be re-prioritised but not traded.

  3. There is likely to be more than one solution that could satisfy both parties.

  4. Some interests will be competing, others will be compatible.
The negotiator as mediator can try and explore each party’s interests (concerns, fears, motives) by the basic communication skills which are:
  1. Actively listening to the other negotiator and looking for expressions of interests.

  2. Questioning to highlight interests. Wants are usually an expression of position. Interests reveal why we have such a position.

  3. Summarising to clarify what is behind specific wants.

  4. Reframing the issues to reveal alternative solutions, which are compatible with varying interests.

  5. The negotiator as mediator does not focus on the declared positions of the other negotiation(s). This would result in a deadlock. He must seek the interest of the other party with a view to reaching an understanding acceptable to the varying interests.
The negotiator as mediator should search for the parties' values and also seek to generate new options with a view to reaching an agreed settlement.


There are two main negotiating strategies and they are
  1. The positional (competitive) bargaining strategy

  2. The principled (problem solving) bargaining strategy

Under this strategy, the negotiator aims at reaching an agreement by moving along a continuum from an ideal to a limit position. The ideal situation is the maximum outcome a negotiator intends to obtain from the negotiation and the limit is the minimum outcome he intends to obtain therein.

In this kind of bargaining strategy, each party must be prepared to move from the ideal position to a point of consensus between the negotiating parties.


The problem solving (principled) bargaining strategy was formulated as an alternative to the positional strategy. This method advocates a win-win situation for disputing parties. Here the focus is on the issues and not on the people. According to Dr. Daniel Dana “the problem does not have to be solved for the conflict to be resolved.

In mediation, people can still retain their respective ideologies and yet arrive at a consensus, which works for both parties.  As long as the focus is on the issue and not on the ideology or personality of the disputants, there is a very good chance that the issue will be resolved with satisfaction to both parties.

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