What to Do When the Other Side Won’t Mediate?

Other Side Won't Mediate? 1

Mediation is a great way to resolve disputes quickly and cheaply, allowing both sides to regain control and peace of mind.

But sometimes only one person in a dispute is willing to mediate, and the other side either can’t decide what to do or has strong opinions about not wanting to mediate. So what can you do to convince that party to mediate?

Want to mediate your dispute? Considering divorce mediation? Wondering how to start a mediation?

Problem: Lack of Knowledge Stands in the Way

Sometimes people have strong opinions about things because of their lack of knowledge or experience with the subject. Like when you ask picky eaters to try kale or escargot.

Probably all of us can think of a time when we’ve had difficulty making decisions. Our inability to decide might be because of a lack of information—and the cure often is getting more knowledge—identifying our choices and what their possible outcomes would be. People are pretty smart. When we have good information, we can usually make pretty good choices.

Problem: Emotions Cloud Judgment

Disputes often are highly charged emotionally. Most people have trouble making decisions when they are really stressed.

In disputes with another party, your suggestions can be refused not because of the strength or weakness of your idea, but because it was you who made the suggestion—your suggestion is refused because the other party had an emotional reaction. They just won’t cooperate, no matter what.

Trying to change a person’s mind is exceptionally difficult, especially where relationships have deteriorated.

Solution: A Neutral Proposal

Sometimes, referring the other side to a neutral information source—or third party—can help bridge the gap. Mediators often are referred to as neutrals. This website is a neutral source. As a mediator, I am an unbiased “Neutral,” and I’m happy to consult for free with anybody considering mediation.

Below is an email that you can use to suggest mediation to a reluctant opposing party.

The most important thing about this email is that it’s short, sweet and not controversial. It doesn’t stir emotions that can cloud rational judgment. If you send an email or letter that sounds combative, that’s going to trigger trouble. This message doesn’t refer to any past transgressions or character flaws or other criticisms. It’s also not condescending. It simply gives information and carries a message about the benefits of mediation—it simply asks the other side to make a rational choice.

So when the other side won’t mediate, here is a letter or email you can use to help get mediation started.

Dear ________:

Mediation might benefit us both.

A mediation website I saw today ( has a lot of information about mediation.

  • Mediators don’t decide cases like a judge or jury would—the parties decide for themselves, the parties are in control.
  • Both sides save money—no depositions, motions, trial work, or experts are necessary.
  • We can schedule mediation whenever it’s convenient.
  • Attorneys can participate or not, it’s up to us.

The central idea of mediation is to quickly and cheaply resolve disputes, enabling both sides to regain peace of mind while creating a new path forward.

The choice is ours; it is not being forced on either of us. It’s voluntary— a central feature of mediation.

When you have a chance, you might check out that site (or other mediation sites). Even if we don’t agree on the substance of the dispute, maybe we can agree that we would both like to save money, time, and move on. Maybe mediation is a way to go forward.

This site has a lot of information. The mediator is neutral and gives free consultations.

What do you think?



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