Mediation is the intervention of a third party to resolve issues that the original parties in the issue cannot sort out among themselves. Ideally, the mediator, or group of mediators should be a neutral party, who have nothing to do with any members of any of the parties directly involved, and who should not have any potential benefits from the decision that is finally taken.
Mediation is a legal term, but it is often done in the domestic arena in a personal way. In the business world, mediation has to be fully legal, but in family affairs, people often mediate among themselves.
However, the casual mediation is much different from the real, legal mediation. The basic difference lies in the nature of involvement of the mediator. In a personal mediation group, the mediator may even have a side of their own. They may have an opinion in the issue, and what they automatically end up trying to do is, make the matter go in favor of the decision that they prefer.
For example, say a couple is having a tough time continuing their relationship. They cannot resolve issues between themselves, so they ask a mutual friend to help out. Now, being a mutual friend, already being involved with both the people in equal or varying degrees, this mediator is bound to have an opinion on the relationship. He or she may either think this one would never work out, or may also think that these friends must stay together no matter what. The mediator in this case, will try to bring forth the points that are in favor of the decision he or she is comfortable with.
However, in legal mediation, there is no scope for the mediating body to let their personal opinion get in the way of a fair decision. There are rules and boundaries. The mediating body needs to be someone who does not have any personal connection with either of the parties.
Similarly, in the corporate world, mediation needs to be done by someone who does not benefit or lose anything from any of the possible outcomes that can result from the case at hand. It has to be someone totally uninvolved. Also, the mediator has the right to make both parties bring out every piece of information they had been hiding from each other. A mediator helps the parties look at the bigger picture, come clean to each other, and take a fair decision from which both, or all the parties involved may benefit, or suffer least, if it is that bad a situation.
The job of a mediator is to offer the suggestions and advice all the parties regarding the best possible decision. But the final decision lies in the hands of the parties. However, in order to avoid litigation, stress, and extra expenses, the parties usually follow the advice of the mediator, and resolve the issue without having to take it to court for litigation. Mediation is a smart choice when stuck in a rut regarding corporate or domestic decisions.