When to mediate a conflict
Here are a few basic considerations which may impact the question of when to mediate a conflict:
Future Relationship of the Parties: If the conflicted parties are likely to be required to interact in the future (parents, family members, business partners) it may behoove the parties to mediate as quickly as possible. The less time the parties spend engaged in conflict, the fewer angry words exchanged, the better chance to preserve a future relationship.
Inability to Communicate: If the parties ability to have a productive conversation has been diminished or eliminated by anger. The presence of a mediator, and the ability to privately caucus, may offer the parties a method to have a constructive discussion that would otherwise not be possible.
Lack of Realistic Understanding: If one, or both, the parties in a conflict are unwilling to acknowledge the realities implicated by the conflict (a vendor won't pay a bill; a party overvaluing claim), mediation may help. A third-party view of the conflict may provide a reality check. Appearances and positions do not always reflect the truth. Parties to a conflict usually can't resolve a dispute unless both sides share a realistic vision of possible outcomes.
Appearance of Weakness: There are occasions, especially in lawsuits, when the parties may have an interest in determining whether the decision to mediate might send a signal of lack of conviction in the merits of their claim or defence to the other side. Serious consideration should be given to how a desire to mediate is expressed, and care should be taken to avoid creating an appearance of weakness.