This is the first formal contact between the parties and the mediator. The mediator should identify the parties, define mediation, explain the mediation process and establish ground rules. Because first impressions are important, the mediator should pay special attention to this stage.
2. PROBLEM DETERMINATION
In this stage of the process, the mediator asks each party to relate his/her side of the story. During problem determination there is a flow of information from the disputing parties to the mediator. The mediator’s function is to facilitate the flow of this information.
After each party has completed his story, the mediator should summarize. The words used by the mediator in the summary must be neutral and non-judgmental in nature. It is important, however, that the summary be an accurate statement of the essence of each party’s story.
4. ISSUE IDENTIFICATION
In the issue identification stage, the mediator assists the parties in identifying those issues that need to be mediated if there is going to be a resolution of the dispute.
5. GENERATION AND EVALUATION OF ALTERNATIVES
During this stage, the parties propose alternatives for resolving the dispute. The parties proceed to discuss these alternatives in an effort to effect a resolution of the problem.
6. SELECTION OF APPROPRIATE ALTERNATIVES
During this stage the parties agree on which alternatives will resolve the dispute.
The mediation should conclude with a final re-statement and clarification of the terms of the resolution by the mediator.
The Mediator Handbook prepared by Capital University, Columbus, Ohio, USA.