If you are fortunate enough never to find yourself in a dispute with an individual or another business, consider yourself lucky. At some point in time, nearly every business has some sort of issue with someone. In some cases, your business will be the wronged party, and in other instances, you will be the party accused of wrongdoing.

Regardless of the circumstances, you may have the chance to resolve the dispute outside of an Iowa courtroom. In some cases, you may even be able to resolve it with a phone call, an email or a letter. In other instances, however, you may need to employ more formal measures in order to stay out of court, yet be provided with the means to resolve your dispute in a matter that satisfies everyone involved.

Mediation could be the answer

Mediation provides many benefits to a small business since it saves time, money and effort. In addition, if you want to maintain a relationship with the other party, using this alternative dispute resolution method could help you do that. Before committing to the process, you may want to understand the basics of how it works.

You will have the opportunity to voice your issues and concerns, clear up any misunderstandings and negotiate a resolution in an informal setting. The meetings remain private as well.

What you can expect from the process

Typically, the mediation process proceeds as follows:

  • The mediator holds an introductory meeting to lay out the rules and explain everyone’s roles in the process.
  • Each party receives the opportunity to make a statement outlining his or her views and concerns regarding the situation. Don’t worry; you will get the chance to speak without interruptions from the other party.
  • The mediator may ask questions of each party in order to better identify the issues that require resolution.
  • The mediator may then hold private discussions with each party in order to formulate possible solutions to the problem. These meetings, called caucuses, could continue for some time until you reach an agreement.
  • Once it appears that the parties have a tentative agreement, one can put it into writing for each party’s review.

This would be a good time to point out that the mediator does not represent either party. You may want to have your own legal representation in order to protect your rights throughout the process, to explain any legal issues that come up and to make sure that the agreement represents your best interests.