Worthwhile endeavors take time. Mediation is no exception. If you go into a mediation with the attitude that it will be a quick and easy fix, you may be setting yourself up for frustration and disappointment, not to mention poor use of resources (time, money). For an example of how mediation, and quick “creative” compromise doesn’t work, watch this.

While “creative” is the hailed descriptor for negotiated solutions, they also need to be practical and durable. As for easy compromise to save time and effort (e.g. “split the difference,” which has its place in simple transactions, e.g. on Craigslist for the purchase of household items), these results tend to be unprincipled and can lead to buyer’s remorse in more complex disputes.

Prepare for your mediation thoughtfully, and be ready to give it the time it deserves: be prepared to tell your story; also be prepared to listen to the other side’s story. Think about what outcomes would be acceptable to you and what concessions you can offer the other party. Think beyond your “position” to why it matters to you. What interests are at stake? If you cannot resolve the dispute through mediation, what are your alternatives, and what impact do those alternatives have on your life? Be prepared to share information and evidence with the mediator so that she can help evaluate options. Although mediators do not give legal advice, they do provide information and can offer mediator proposals. But the parties need to be in the mental state of mind to meaningfully participate in the process.

Lucia Kanter St. Amour, Pactum Factum Principal