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Identify overlapping interests

Mediation, as one of my kids told me, is like a Venn diagram. If you don’t remember what a Venn diagram is, it looks like two (or more) circles overlapping with different information in each circle, where the sets of information coincide that’s where the overlap occurs.

Sometimes there’s a big overlap, sometimes very little, rarely none at all. Mediation is about helping people work out what is in that overlap, whether it’s their child’s interest, business going forward or getting along your neighbour.

Take for example the family going on holiday, it’s a long drive and the parents cannot decide whether to go in the bigger car or the smaller car.

One of them wants to take the bigger, faster car, stuff it full of buckets and spades, suitcases and 6 pairs of shoes each, but the other won’t drive the big car - “it’s a tank”. The other wants to take the small car, pack light and take a bit longer getting to the destination and share the driving. It’s easy to see the overlap they both want to go on holiday.

So having identified the overlap helping the couple work out how they achieve their common goal is relatively easy. Most mediations aren’t that straightforward but that’s the basis of virtually all mediations.

In mediation news this week Paul Monicatti has been appointed by U.S. District Judge David Lawson as mediator to help the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality and Flint City see where their interests overlap.

Following a previous lead contamination it’s understandable that Flint City Council is reluctant to approve a long term water provision deal from Detroit, but in terms of a Venn diagram somewhere in that overlapping area there is clearly provision of water to citizens, here’s hoping Monicatti can help the two sides recognise that interest and find a way to achieve it.

In more emotive mediation news parties involved in the claims against and arising from the actions of Larry Nassar are also seeking mediation. Nassar has already pleaded guilty to child pornography charges and faces a further 22 charges of sexual assault.

115 women and girls, Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics amongst others all attended a hearing on Wednesday to agree a stay of 90 days to enable mediated solutions to be explored. As mediation remains off the record and information exchanged cannot be used in later court proceedings the un-named claimants will take the courageous step of identifying themselves to the defendants.

USA Gymnastics whilst being the only party to oppose the stay was still able to say in a press release that “USA Gymnastics did not oppose mediation and welcomes the opportunity to attempt to resolve the plaintiffs’ claims through the mediation process.” MSU’s attorney Patrick Fitzgerald welcomed the process to assist in disclosure and speed matters to conclusion.

In less sensitive mediation news in Rajasthan the villagers in Hanumangarh have resolved their land and water disputes through mediation.

As a result Araiyawali has been declared by Hanumangarh sub-divisional officer Surendra Rajpurohit as the first litigation free village in north Rajasthan stating “The village has set an example for people of other villages by settling disputes through mediation in a peaceful atmosphere”

The dispute had arisen over the distribution of canal water, a community mediation centre was set up and it was identified that the complaints actually related to land as well as the provision of water. 42 cases were dealt with through mediation with training and guidance being givne by mediators appointed by Rajpurohit.

One of the mediators Ramkumar Godara said “At the beginning, we thought that the solution to disputes was challenging, but slowly mutual understanding developed and with collective cooperation, we were able to make our village litigation-free.”

So whether it’s an argument over land rights (and see our case studies page for the cost these can involve), a commercial or civil claim for injury or negligence or even a family dispute over holiday plans, Northwest Mediation can and will help you see where your interests overlap with that of your “opponent” and enable you to reach a solution.

If you have a dispute in need of mediation call Northwest Mediation on 07931318347 or via email at

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