Advanced Skills in Identifying Issues,
Generating Alternatives, and Caucusing
"The content and approach of this course and
the instructors' presentations were excellent, to the point, concise and can be
Mediation provides disputing parties with a unique opportunity to settle
their conflict. The successful resolution of a mediation often depends on the
mediator’s ability to help the parties overcome obstacles that arise during the
mediation.Disputing parties often fail to settle their conflicts because
they are unable to identify and focus on the actual problem(s) that needs to be
resolved. A mediator's goal is to have the parties themselves take
responsibility for their conflict and empower them to create a mutually
acceptable resolution to the conflict. The mediator who is skilled in helping
parties clearly identify the issue(s), and then generate and evaluate
alternatives can greatly increase the chances of resolution.
Caucusing is a process in which the mediator separates the parties in order
to enhance the potential for reaching a positive resolution to the dispute.
There are many reasons why a mediator might call a caucus including determining
zones of agreements, identifying barriers that could negatively affect the
mediation, preventing disruptive communication, allowing constructive venting of
emotions, or simply examining the strengths or weaknesses of stated positions.
The effective mediator will learn to use caucusing in a way that will not
undermine trust, neutrality, or confidentiality and will increase the parties
chances for a successful mediation result.
Ability to identify, frame, and prioritize the issues to be mediated
Ability to distinguish between presenting and underlying issues
Understanding of obstacles to generating alternatives
Ability to use multiple methods of generating alternatives
Ability to assist the parties in selecting clear and practical solutions
Understanding of why, how, and when to use caucusing
Scot Dewhirst, Co-Director, Center for Dispute Resolution