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Be prepared to listen to understand, not to find fault. Whether you agree with the conclusions or the details of what is said, always assume there may be information valuable to achieving resolution in what others say.

Be prepared to go beyond positions (I’m not going!) and discuss interests (I don’t feel safe in that old truck). When you are able to move away from positions and begin to talk about the underlying interests, the potential for agreement is hugely expanded (What if I borrow Ted’s new Volvo?).

What you want to communicate to other persons may be limited by how you say it. Consider, in advance, how you might address difficult issues in constructive ways that others will be receptive to. Avoid use of negative, value laden statements and name calling whenever possible. To achieve our goals through agreement, others must be willing and able to hear us.

Consider options that satisfy interests on both sides. There is no agreement until all parties agree, and no one will agree unless their needs are satisfied to some level. Thus, if reaching agreement is your goal, it is beneficial to consider solutions that address needs on all sides of an issue.

Don’t get stuck on a single option. There are usually several creative ways to address an issue—don’t limit yourself to just one.

Be prepared to work hard during the mediation. Achieving successful results in mediation requires best efforts from everybody.  

Be patient. Collaborative problem solving takes a little time; however, the agreements reached are often the most durable and satisfying.