What Happens When You Start Mediation?

You have a conflict, and both parties have agreed to mediate as opposed to proceeding with a small claims case. Unfortunately, most participants are not sure how mediation begins. Here, we go through the process so you can know what to expect when you start mediation:

Zoom vs. In-Person

With mediation, you can choose to have the session(s) conducted via Zoom or in-person. If you choose Zoom, any required paperwork can be handled with DocuSign on a computer or handheld device. However, parties can meet in-person if you feel more comfortable with that.

Opening Introductions

When we have both parties together, either in person or via Zoom, the mediator from Metropolitan Mediation Services™ LLC will begin as follows:

“It’s good to see the two of you here. I’m (Mediator’s Name). I will be serving as your Mediator. You may call me by my first name; how would you like us to address you?”

Signing a Written Agreement and Setting Ground Rules

A necessary step in this process is for each of you to sign a written agreement to mediate. This written agreement states that you are participating on your own accord, that what you say here will be kept confidential, and that the mediators will not be asked to release information discussed here, nor will they be summoned into court to testify on matters disclosed here.

Additionally, the mediator will discuss some ground rules. These will include the following:

  • Do not interrupt when the other person is speaking. You will be provided paper and a pencil so that you can take notes about any responses to make.
  • Avoid the use of any abusive language, name calling, etc. You must address each party by their name.

Explanations of the Process and the Situation

The purpose of our meeting is to help you work out an agreement that is acceptable to both of you. As such, your mediator will first explain how they will proceed. Then, they will ask each of you to explain exactly how you view the situation. They will do their best to understand exactly how it looks from your point of view, and they will identify and agree on the basic issues of the disagreement.

Discussing Your Goals

In the next step, the mediator will work with each of you to examine what you want from each other and what some possible solutions might be. After all, the goal is to help you find a solution that both of you feel comfortable with, and the mediator’s goal is to help you figure out your own solution to your problems. You are the ones who will be living with your solution from here on, so it’s best for you to be the ones who decide what the solution will be. The mediator won’t be telling you what to do or trying to judge who is right or wrong. They are much more interested in helping you think about solutions for the future than in trying to judge what happened in the past.

A Note on Confidentiality

Additionally, it’s important to note that anything you may say during the session is confidential. The mediator will be taking notes from time to time so that they can remember things, but when they finish, they will destroy the notes.


Either of you may ask to take a break at any time during our discussion. For example, if you feel yourself getting particularly upset at any time and feel that you need to take a break to simmer down a little, let the mediator know, and the group will take a break. Sometimes it is helpful for mediators to meet separately with each of you during our discussion, so we may be doing that occasionally as well.

Now that you know the process, it’s time to set up an appointment of your own. Contact Metropolitan Mediation Services at (314) 452-1533 to request a mediation.