Everyone reading this column has had a dispute with another person. Some of them are serious — maybe your ex won’t pay child support — while some are slightly less so, such as a confrontation with a roommate who whistles constantly or a housemate who hoards the Doritos (you know who you are). Unfortunately for us, conflicts are everywhere. Although some people — myself excluded — can apparently resolve these conflicts in mature, calm ways, even the most level-headed people sometimes need outside intervention to deal with the big stuff. In this lawsuit-happy culture, our first instinct when things don’t go our way is often to take legal action. But lawsuits are expensive and require the kind of time and money most Americans simply don’t have in this economy.
And that is where this week’s topic, the professional mediator, steps in.