Contracting is a crucial part of the mediation process and often overlooked or poorly addressed. Inexperienced mediators worry that the parties (and their attorneys) will be so keen to rush into the content of their dispute that they will have no patience for crafting the container that will help carry them through. However, working with parties in mediation requires us to operate differently than parties usually behave in traditional approaches to conflict. More specifically, clarifying that the parties are in charge of making decisions together to resolve their conflict shifts traditional allocation of responsibility from the professional to the parties, calls for the parties to deal directly with each other in the same room (with the help of the mediator) and opens the basis for the decisions beyond law and includes the personal dimensions of the conflict, including fairness.
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