"When people negotiate they engage in a particular kind of social behaviour, they seek to do together what they cannot do alone" (Menkel-Meadow).
The most common type of dispute resolution is negation. Most forms of dispute resolution are based on simple bilateral negotiation. This involves the parties in a dispute approaching each and without the assistance of a third party seeking a mutually acceptable outcome to the dispute through discussion. This discussion is usually within a social and legal framework.
Mediation can be defined as the process by which the participants together with the assistance of a neutral person or persons, systematically isolate dispute issues in order to develop options, consider alternatives, and reach a consensual settlement that will accommodate their needs.
Mediation is a process directed to enabling the parties to resolve their dispute by agreement. A neutral third party may be involved, but (his/her) endeavours will be to encourage an expeditious settlement forged by the parties themselves. There is no "decision". The process does not purport to involve the application of rules. What is aimed at is agreement.
An impartial third party acts to bring the principals together for the purpose of dispute settlement. The role of the conciliator is to seek to get the parties to agree upon a process by which they will attempt to resolve their dispute. A conciliator acts as a means of bringing the parties together ad may not necessarily sit with the parties while they negotiate to try to reach settlement. The conciliator is more a provider of facilities for settlement through negotiation such as premises and support services and normally is not involved with the substantive issues in dispute.