Mediation is a voluntary process, unlike court proceedings or some other forms of conflict resolution. The disputing parties willingly choose to participate in the process and work towards finding an amicable solution. However, it means that any party involved retains the right to opt-out at any stage.
When a party to a dispute threatens to quit mediation, it could derail the entire process. That could jeopardize all the hard work you have done together up to that point. Here is what you could do to try and get them involved again.
Understand their reasons and address the underlying issues
It helps to understand why the dissenting party would want to withdraw from the process. It could be due to a perception of bias, a sudden change in circumstances or general dissatisfaction with how things are done, among a host of other reasons.
Listen actively without judgment to fully comprehend their perspective and encourage them to express their reservations or grievances openly. Once you identify their concerns, addressing the underlying issues could encourage commitment to the mediation process and instill confidence in the process. The goal is to reestablish a sense of trust and collaboration between the disputing parties.
It may be prudent to look into other options if, despite your efforts, the dissenting party proceeds to withdraw from the process. This might involve proposing a different mediator, adjusting the structure or timing of sessions or even considering a hybrid approach, such as combining mediation with another form of dispute resolution.
Seeking qualified guidance can also go a long way. It can help understand the ramifications of a party’s withdrawal and the options available to resolve the dispute without going to court.