Without taking sides, a skilled mediator can deliver messages in a way that enhances receptivity and reasoned exploration. Recognize that taking strong positions during the joint caucus may be hard to resist, but conveying them through a mediator may overcome the tuning-out response and perception of adversarial breast-beating.
Mediators’ opening statements are also more purposeful than many realize. The mediator’s joint caucus address – describing the process and ground rules, explaining what mediation is capable of accomplishing or not, limiting the initial exchange, etc. – lets the mediator inure confidence, draw focus and demonstrate neutrality from the outset. Beware, therefore, of overlapping the mediator’s role in setting the stage for the work ahead, or you may unwittingly undermine her opportunity to build trust and effectively manage the process.
In short, value temperance. I understand that a client may need to hear his attorney strongly advocate in front of his opponent, make sure the mediator is well enough informed, and allay concerns that the mediator may not relay things with the weight one feels is necessary. Over-sharing or over-positioning in the initial joint caucus, however, can thwart the overarching objective by further polarizing the parties and creating a setback to the prospect of settling.
To help hold back, remember that private caucuses provide plenty of opportunity to express and explain. See, The Value of Private Caucuses – Air, Err and Calibrate.
Each person at the mediation table has an important role. Let those be fulfilled and the result should be a smoother road to resolution.