Mediation, in its simplest form, is merely a discussion between individuals searching for a mutually agreeable solution with the aid of a mediator. The mediator serves as a neutral facilitator who works with the parties to open channels of communication, to inject reason into their discussions and to help each party see the dispute through the eyes of the other. The mediator will suggest compromises and carry offers and counter-offers between the parties. Unlike a judge or jury, mediators do not make decisions for the parties. Rather, mediators help parties reach their own conclusions and agreements on how to settle their disputes.
Mediation has several advantages over litigation. Mediation is less formal and less stressful than a court trial and is generally less expensive. Most importantly participants in mediation play an integral role in fashioning their resolution. In court, the judge or jury decides the case, while in mediation, the parties work toward the settlement of their disputes.