Mediation is a fantastic mixture of interpersonal communication, self-esteem, negotiation and psychology.
Most people consider conflict as something disagreable and they avoid it as much as possible. While I very well understand that it is disagreable (don't belive those who tell you it could be "fun"), if conflict goes on too long or too intensively, it can do harm to the parties involved.
The mediator does not solve the conflict for the participants. I would love to go on explaining why this is a good approach -- perhaps in the second edition of the website.
Conflict that the participants have solved themselves is more successful and the solution is more permanent. So what does the mediator do? The mediator is a catalyst, but also a reminder of our human tendencies, how we got into the conflict in the first place, and how/what we want to get out of it.
Mediation requires a basic understanding of human nature and psychology (no, the participants are not mentally ill, even if they accuse one another to be). It also requires neutrality, confidentiality and trust.
I like to distinguish between conflict management and conflict resolution. By conflict management, I understand the study of the nature of conflict, its triggers, and what kind of behavioural changes may be necessary in order to avoid conflict, or possibly resolve it.
By conflict resolution, I mean the techniques that are used, by mediators and others, to arrive at a real solution to the conflict. So many consultants have learned a lot about the nature of conflict, but fall short of suggesting effective ways that one may actually intervene and resolve the conflict. One of my favorite quotes is by Plato and also gives a bit of the nature of my discourse here on this page.For the example below, would you recommend mediation?