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Mediation Fact Sheet

Michigan State University

Faculty Grievance & Dispute Resolution Office


What is mediation?

Mediation is an alternative dispute resolution process that involves two (or more) parties engaged in structured joint-problem solving meeting(s) to seek resolutions to issues of concern. Through facilitated discussions, the participants identify possible solutions to issues they have agreed to address that impact their professional responsibilities. Advantages of mediation include its efficiency in having a neutral third party assist in identifying core issues, and cost-effectiveness. Parties involved in mediation participate voluntarily. All mediation sessions are confidential.


Why participate in mediation?

Mediation is a useful process that helps to repair or build working relationships between parties. Through the facilitated process, participants have opportunities to hear and understand the perspectives of their counterparts. Through discourse and exploration of problem-solving ideas, both parties develop an understanding of how to navigate through various uncertainties that impact workplace matters.


What happens during mediation?

The mediation process involves three distinct phases:

  • Phase 1: Issue identification: During this phase, each participant describes the issue(s) that they seek to resolve.
  • Phase 2: Identifying solutions: Facilitated by the mediator, both parties explore and identify potential solutions that will result in an agreement that leads to sustainable and mutually beneficial outcomes.
  • Phase 3: Affirming agreements: Facilitated by the mediator, both parties will draft an agreement or memorandum of understanding that documents their acceptance of the identified solutions.


A central tenant of mediation is that the process is driven and controlled by the parties. The mediator does not have any responsibility for offering solutions, controlling the outcome or monitoring progress of agreed upon outcomes. Any agreement includes a commitment by both parties to guide future interactions and implement solutions in compliance with their executed agreement.


When and where does mediation occur?

Mediation can be used when both parties have a commitment to resolve matters amicably and informally with the support of a neutral third party.


In an effort to minimize power imbalances, an agreed upon location convenient to both parties, as well as a time and duration should be identified (if preferred, meetings may take place remotely in a virutal format if both parties consent). Ideally, the matter should be resolved in a timely manner and typically requires no more than one to three sessions to resolve.



The content of this page was developed in collaboration with Laura A. Athens, Attorney and Mediator PLC. We express our appreciation and gratitude for her guidance and contributions.