Mediators tend to be very positive, energetic future-focussed types who like nothing better than getting the parties to concentrate on collaborating to find ways to resolve current problems and to create improved and more effective ways of working. Often, the key is creating an expectation of success. However, I am reminded by the short but thought-provoking article by Thornton Mason that there is more than one way to skin a cat.
In his article, Thornton Mason discusses that at the very beginning of a workplace mediation, he invites the parties to address the risks of a failed mediation, which he then writes on a flip chart sheet and sticks it up on the wall of the mediation room. He finds that by analysing the risks of failure this frequently reveals the many common interests that the parties have in the mediation succeeding. He believes it works especially well as a technique with parties who find it difficult to accept new options.
I am always fascinated by the different tools that other mediators have in their toolkits and am always looking to expand my own. I might just give this a try.