The Third Side: The Mediator

Reconciling Conflicting Interests

A Mediator's Guide to the Beyond Intractability Website

  • When two people are engaged in a conflict do you offer to get involved to help them think through the problem?
  • Are you the kind of person whom others come to for help in dealing with their problems?
  • In a conflict situation, do you try to find a solution that works well for everyone involved?

If you answered "yes" to one or more of the above questions, then you may be a mediator. And if you are a mediator, then this site is for you!

Who are Mediators?

Mediators are people who — officially or unofficially — get involved in a dispute in order to help the parties resolve it. Unlike arbitrators or judges, mediators have no power to define or enforce an agreement, but they can help the parties to voluntarily reach agreement by helping them identify their options and engage in negotiation. Heads of state or their envoys often act as official mediators in international conflicts; ombudsmen may do so at the organization level. Informal intermediaries — sometimes called Track II diplomats — do the same at the international level, and, co-workers, friends, or family members can act as informal intermediaries in workplace, family, or neighborhood conflicts.

For More Information

Much of the material on this user guide is drawn from Thanks to William Ury and Joshua Weiss for giving us permission to republish their material here.