8 The Sixth Step – The Mediation Conference You should come to the mediation conference prepared with all of the documentation you feel will be necessary to discuss your case and that may have been requested by the mediator. At the outset, the mediator describes the procedures and ground rules including covering each party’s opportunity to talk, order of presentation, decorum, discussion of unresolved issues, and signing of the Confidentiality Agreement. The mediator tries to understand each party’s perceptions, interests, and positions. The mediator then acts as a facilitator to keep discussions between the parties focused. The mediator may probe, test and challenge the validity of each party’s positions. The mediator will help each party think through its demands, priorities, and views, and deal with the other party’s arguments. The mediator helps build a settlement range within which the parties can assess the consequences of continuing or resolving the dispute. If an agreement is reached, the mediator may summarize the specifics of an agreement and make sure the terms are comprehensive, specific, and clear. The Seventh Step – The Settlement When the parties reach an agreement, they should put the terms in writing and execute releases. If no settlement is reached, the mediator may explain the consequences of failure to reach an agreement. All mediations differ depending on the parties involved and the issues in dispute; your mediation may vary from that described above. Upon completion of the mediation process, a mediation program survey will be mailed to you. The Department requests that it be completed and returned at your earliest convenience to assist with the evaluation of the program.