It is fundamental to the success of a mediation that the parties trust the mediator.
When parties come together for a mediation, trust has usually broken down, creating a huge barrier to any useful communication. If both are prepared to place their trust in the mediator and in the mediation process, communication can restart.
A good mediator will earn the trust of the parties by demonstrating competence and impartiality and by creating a comfortable environment for negotiation.
And is an essential part of the bargain that communications in private with the mediator are confidential. The whole point of the confidentiality is that the parties can be open and trust the mediator.
The more frank each party can be in private discussion with the mediator, the better equipped he or she will be to create the conditions in which a deal becomes possible. So it is in the parties’ interests that they in turn earn the mediator’s trust. By speaking openly with the mediator, being clear about what they really want, sharing important information, being prepared to show weakness and not being defensive, a party will give the mediator the best possible chance of being able to move the negotiations forward.
Sometimes parties representatives advise their clients to hold back certain information from the mediator. That is bad advice. The sooner everyone can trust the mediator the sooner he or she will be able to help the parties reach a settlement.