Disagreement and disputation are unavoidable for us all. We have to deal with them every day, sometimes without help and sometimes with expert assistance.
Mediation is a form of structured negotiation in which people who disagree (let us call them the “disputants”) are helped by someone neutral and impartial (preferably trained in mediation and negotiation skills) to find agreement after all.
Because most mediations are voluntary, the disputants may keep the process private and confidential and may use whatever method of communication suits them best. Face to face meetings are most frequently used because of their immediacy. The mediator usually starts by meeting all the disputants together with their lawyers (if they are legally represented) and later meets privately with each side, on the basis that nothing communicated in a private session may be revealed to the other side without permission. The mediator may thus get to see room for agreement where none was previously apparent, and help the disputants to get there.