Mediation sets the stage for conflicting parties to vent as long as it takes to spell out their problems with each other until they find a mutually beneficial solution. The process would however not culminate into an agreement unless the essential mediation process is applied. This involves the conflicting parties converging into one room and descending into dialogue about the problem while facing each other, without interruption, until a solution is found.
In conflict, we either, like clams, close all communications about the problem and refuse to speak or we unduly influence the other party into accepting our side. Which is why before mediation kicks off, the parties must deliberately accept the 2 cardinal rules; not to distance themselves from the dialogue by refusing to communicate and walking away and not to coerce one another into acceptance.
We have watched conflicting parties having submitted to mediation, vehemently defend their positions at the beginning and naturally, at the peak of their aggression, stumble upon a breakthrough that makes it possible to stop the war and actually have a win-win outcome. The desire for peace sets in and each party begins to articulate their needs in conjunction with each other.
It is paramount to remember that mediators do not offer any terms of agreement. Our role is to remind the parties that they must remain in the essential mediation process by observing the cardinal rules, identify any gestures of reconciliation from the parties and nudge them towards the breakthrough and ultimately a mutually beneficial solution so that they can begin to heal out of their own efforts.