For mediation to occur, the participants must begin talking or negotiating. In workplace conflict, labour and management must be willing to hold bargaining sessions, in business, business associates must agree to conduct discussions and governments and public interest groups must be willing to come together to talk. Mediation is essentially dialogue or negotiation with the involvement of a third party.
Mediation is an extension of the negotiation process in that it involves extending the bargaining into a new format and using a mediator who contributes new variables and dynamics to the interaction of the disputants. Without negotiation there can be no mediation.
Mediation may be thought of as "assisted negotiation."
Negotiation may be thought of as "communications for agreement."
Hence, mediation is "assisted communications for agreement."
Central to mediation is the concept of "informed consent." So long as participants understand the nature of a contemplated mediation process and effectively consent to participate in the described process, virtually any mediation process is possible and appropriate.