Mediation: From Resolution to Reconciliation

We provide skilled mediation services through Troutman & Napier utilizing the most comprehensive approach to conflict resolution. Originally certified in Family Law Mediation which focused on the single step mediation process, Gregory A. Napier helped many families halt or minimize the damage of divorce and the conflict that accompanies it. However, he became convinced that there is more to offer than just resolving particular issues in conflict; parties can go beyond merely compromising. But it takes hard work. This is why he pursued the three-level process of certification as a mediator through Alliance Peacemaking.

Alliance Peacemaking offers the hope of going beyond resolution of conflict into reconciliation of relationships. This is not just for families in crisis; relationships are important in the business world as well. Once a relationship is fractured, one can make compromises, but we can all admit that nothing is quite the same again. This can lead to poor productivity and morale in businesses, schisms in churches, and ongoing fighting in families. So, the extra effort to reconcile relationships is worth the additional effort required by the Peacemaking approach.

How it Works

Traditional mediation is a single meeting of the parties and their attorneys. It can last from a few hours to multiple days, but it is typically wrapped up after one day whether or not all the issues were settled. There are two approaches: evaluative, where the mediator has particular expertise in the area of law being addressed or facilitative, where the mediator focuses on the process and communication. Evaluative mediators usually move quickly to separate the parties and then try to talk each party off the ledge of unrealistic expectations. Facilitative mediators need no topical expertise but try to get the parties to stay in the same room and talk through the issues and agree on compromises. Both approaches have value and both are limited by the parties having only met the mediator that day and by having to minimal ability to prepare.

Alliance Peacemaking involves a two-step process where the mediator (or mediation team when possible) meets three or more times with each party before sitting down at the table. These pre-mediation sessions help the party fully understand and engage in the process, identify the issues underlying the positions they have taken, build rapport with the mediator(s), affirm the relationship with the other party or parties, learn and practice communication skills, and begin considering creative options. Conflicts, even in the business arena, do not arise suddenly. The identified conflict typically was preceded by several missteps over months or years. This is why the traditional mediation model works best when the parties involved will have zero ongoing interactions.

Counting the Cost

The common objection to this approach is that the sessions prior to the mediation causes it to be more costly than traditional mediation. First, because Troutman & Napier keeps overhead low, our mediators charge under the going market rate. Second, when possible, we utilize a team of two mediators without charging twice as much. Third, we deeply discount our rates for churches, church referrals, and non-profits. And, fourth, one must count the cost of doing mediation the traditional way.
What is the cost of severing a relationship, whether business or personal? A divorce where there is no reconciliation of the relationship at all is a gift that keeps on giving (to the attorneys that is). This is especially true if children are involved. Conflicts that keep cropping up create an unforeseen financial and emotional cost. Losing a once valued employee and having to train a replacement is an incredible cost to a business. A church split over a conflict can cause both the original and the new church to go under. While there is no guarantee that relationship will be restored, investing in the best approach makes sound financial sense.

A hidden benefit to this model of mediation has a value that cannot be measured in dollars and cents. Through the pre-mediation sessions, principles are learned and skills practiced that can be applied to every relationship and they will help work through conflicts more effectively. This would not happen in the single session mediation because it all happens in the heat of the moment.

Additionally, Peacemaking mediation can be utilized with or without attorneys, so if a party opts to not have an attorney present, they can save significantly. In fact, the optimal time to engage a certified Alliance Peacemaking mediator is before lawyers have become necessary.