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Abstract

This study investigates why mediators' assertive strategies—evaluative and directive—did not generate high disputant dissatisfaction when they produced agreements. We thoroughly investigated the transcripts from fifty cases in which the mediators had used assertive strategies and attained agreement. We found that mediators did not irk disputants because the mediators complemented their strategies with four tactical approaches. First, they established their legitimacy, and when mediating they shifted their strategies (from assertive to neutral or vice versa) round by round. They also used a ratchet approach to nudge disputants toward agreement, and they took steps to reduce the disputants' aspirations.