I know someone who recently participated in an arbitration process. When the parties involved arrived to meet with the mediator, it did not start with an airing of grievances. Before anyone was able to share “he said, she said”, the mediator spent the first 40 minutes setting the context for the day’s events.
“The goal of successful mediation is for both sides to leave unhappy,” he said. “You won’t get all that you want.”
It turns out that the goal of mediation is to avoid litigation. The mediator knew that understanding this perspective would greatly influence the outcome of the day, so he spent the time to get people in the right mindset before anything else.
What is the purpose for why you are gathering? It is important for everyone to share that same goal and worth your time to ensure that they do.