A good mediator asks fact-finding questions, but not in the same spirit as a cross-examining attorney or judge. The goal is not to assign blame nor to catch people in inconsistencies nor to determine who is right or wrong or who has the stronger or more compelling argument.
As I tell my mediation clients upfront: “Don’t let the gray hair fool you. I’m not a wise man. I’m here to help you find the wisdom within YOU. When it comes to YOUR fight, you each have more knowledge and intelligence than I ever will. YOU are the ones who have to live with the outcome, not me, and so YOU will decide your own fate.”
My job is to help them explore common ground – shared interests and concerns that can result in collaboratively produced and mutually satisfying resolutions. I may be neutral but I am not impartial, I explain, because I advocate for both people – or, more accurately, I help them advocate for themselves and for each other.