The Mediator’s Orange
4th May 2017
There is a well-known anecdote in the world of mediation (and often used in training courses) known as the mediator’s orange and it demonstrates the concept of added value in mediation that quite simply doesn’t exist in litigation.
It starts with a mother going into the kitchen to find her two daughters arguing over the last orange in the fruit bowl. The mother decides to intervene, takes the orange from the children and promptly cuts it in half, giving each daughter a half.
One daughter goes into the lounge and sits down and peels her half an orange. She throws the peel in the bin and eats the fruit. The other daughter stays in the kitchen, carefully removes the peel, throws away the fruit and uses the peel to bake a cake.
In this instance, the knife represents the law in that equal division was a legal solution. The outcome, however, could have been very different if the mother had asked “Why do you want the orange?”. If she had and both daughters had answered honestly, then both could have had 100% more.
This basic, yet effective anecdote demonstrates how mediation can deliver solutions in a way that litigation can’t. In some cases, relationships can even be salvaged as the disputants get an opportunity to discuss their concerns in a safe environment, and explore solutions that add value far beyond pounds, schillings and pence.