I tried doing some unscientific research to find out what people are seeking from mediation. What I did was to use sitemeter, a tool for measuring web traffic, to identify some of the Google and other searches that led people to my site. I understand that my methodology will mainly turn up search queries that happen to coincide with subjects I am already addressing in this blog. But such a list of search queries may also reflect how well (or poorly) people understand the mediation process, and what they are hoping to get out of it. Here is a sampling of some terms people are searching for (all reported verbatim) that led them to my site:
-Am I more likely to win money in mediation than a lawsuit?
-Is negotiation enforceable?
-How to get what I want from mediation
-Does adr take away right to trial?
-Are there lawyers present at a mediation?
-Do mediators have to be lawyers?
-attorney malpractice mediation procedural justice
-Is it good that the other side wants a mediation?
-won mediation case still do have my money
-Do you think that alternative dispute resolution is more effective than trial?
I don't see many queries in which the topic of mediation is tied to the goals of peace or reconciliation, or making the world a better place. What I mainly see are people trying to find out whether mediation will advance their interests and protect their rights, which are perfectly legitimate concerns, but do not necessarily encompass all of the potential benefits of the mediation process.
And here is another unscientific survey of reality show contestants, illustrating similar self-centered and adversarial attitudes:
Remember that only one contestant generally emerges the winner in these shows, which means that if the only goal is winning, the vast majority of these people return home defeated and empty. After watching this amusing but disheartening video (and another one here), I wonder what happens to those few contestants who approach these competitions in a different spirit, those who might say: "As much as winning is important to me, I also care about the value of the experience and the quality of relationships I pick up along the way." I'd like to think that such people stand a better chance of winning, in every sense of the word. It also occurred to me that it might be interesting to design a reality show that rewards cooperation and negotiation, or that results in "win-win" outcomes. Would anyone watch such a show?
(by the way, the answers to the above questions are yes, it depends, listen, why?, yes for arbitration but no for mediation, sometimes, no, maybe, yes, I don't know, and yes)