As a matter of fact, when people are in a dispute the first thing they think of is not “mediation”.
Initially, they need just to be heard with empathy. They want support, guidance, validation, and protection.
Sometimes they contemplate hiring an attorney. This may mean they need legal protection to stop something damaging from being done or from continuing.
Or, they may want an attorney because they have a story about these bad people on the other side. They want to show the other side a thing or two.
If they call a mediator instead, I help them understand their own positions, interests, and needs and how to articulate these to the other people clearly, forthrightly and with energy.
I show them how to ask, ask, ask for what they want in a powerful way that is attentive to how the other party in the dispute will hear them.
I ask questions that help the person strategize how to move their conflict forward in ways that will hopefully lead to negotiation and mediation and, if not resolution, then a temporary “agreement to disagree” and to remain in communication, in the expectation that better moments for mutual understanding will come up later.