Trust Tempers Demands

Silke Hansen

CRS Mediator, Denver Office

[Full Interview]

This is one of my favorite examples of how the whole relationship between parties changes over the course of the mediation process, so that the mediated agreement is just a small part of the change. I think that one of the most important outcomes of a successful mediation isn't so much the agreement, but the changed relationship which makes that agreement possible. These negotiations took close to a year, and the closer we got toward the actual agreement, the more the minority community was willing to accept terms like "the company will attempt to," as opposed to "the company promises that." The company had been able to persuade them that they were serious in terms of keeping their promises. The community group got to the point where the company could say, "Look, we're going to make every effort and here is the effort that we will make," and the community organization or minority coalition accepted that because they had reached a trust level at that point that certainly had not been there at the beginning.