Facilitative Mediation Continued From Page 15


 Negotiation Once the agenda is set, the hard work really begins as the parties start to negotiate with one another. The hope in the negotiation phase is that the parties will begin to communicate directly with one another rather than through the mediator. The mediator’s role in this phase is to keep the discussion on track through asking clarifying questions, reality testing the parties’ proposals, recognizing and supporting breakthroughs, and generally enabling a safe space in which to reach agreement.

 Caucus It may be that the mediator will want to have a private meeting with one of the parties. This is acceptable and is called a caucus. If the mediator caucuses with one party, they will caucus with the other party. Caucuses are useful  for formulating offers of settlement with the mediator’s help, and for practicing how to communicate an offer to the other party. Information gleaned in caucuses is  participant may choose to share as much or as little as they wish.

 The Agreement The hope in following this process is that the parties will reach agreement. If they do, the mediator is there to be their scribe for the settlement agreement. As stated before, settlements are not always about money. Many times it’s a behavior change, for example, an agreement to use a smokeless ashtray, or an agreement to install a stronger hood fan over the stovetop, might be the consideration for the agreement.

WSCAI’s mediation program will focus on the facilitative model described above. Mediation fees of $250 for each party for members, and $275 per party for non- members, will get you a three-hour mediation session with a mediator trained in the facilitative model. Three hours is usually enough time to determine whether an agreement can be reached. But if the parties need more time, accommodations can be made. Agreements are completely voluntary, so if you are not inclined to agree, nothing can force you to. But hopefully, even if you did not reach agreement, you will come away from the mediation process with a greater understanding of the issues that brought you there and an ability to communicate with the other party more freely.

16 Community Associations Journal | December 2020

Mediation can be done in person (when it becomes safe to do so) and virtually over Zoom, which means it can be accessible throughout the entire state. For purposes of WSCAI’s program, attorneys will not be able to attend mediation with their clients. However, if at any point a participant wants to talk to their attorney during the mediation, that can be arranged.

 Mediators for WSCAI’s program have all gone through a 40- hour training in facilitative mediation, and some have gone further and completed a semester-long practicum in the  working with community associations. Most are lawyers or community managers who have earned their PCAM credential.

Build Working Relationships Mediation as a process is designed to build voluntary agreement between the parties instead of hardening adversarial positions, which in general is a consequence of engaging in litigation. This can help restore good working relations between neighbors, unit owners, and board members who necessarily have a continuing relationship by virtue of living in close proximity even if no settlement is reached.

Give facilitative mediation a try. You will be glad you did!

Resolve Community Disputes — Without Litigation

WSCAI dispute resolution is available to both members and non-members.

 Mediation is less expensive than litigation.

 Mediation brings parties together compared to litigation where positions become polarized.

 Parties voluntarily reach an agreement with the assistance of a neutral third-party mediator.


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