Mediations are negotiations – and in negotiations, drawing lines is sometimes the final step. (More often, it is an almost final step.)
But what happens if you draw a line, and the other side crosses it?
Well, if you let them cross it without repercussions, they know that the line means nothing – not that one or the next one.
So what do you do if you want to test a line?
Instead of saying, “If you don’t drop your demand to x, we are out of here”, try “Your demand needs to be x if you want us to stay interested.”
But what if it really is a line?
The answer is simple – don’t quibble, don’t equivocate, don’t leave room for doubt.
Try, “We’ll pay x. We’ll pay it one move from now or 2 moves from now or 10 moves from now. But we won’t pay x+1 ever, voluntarily.” Most importantly, communicate that you aren’t being heavy handed. Although you hope that the matter will settle at x, you are at peace with not settling if x won’t do it, and you understand that the other side might reasonably not agree to x. If so, we’ll shake hands and depart as friendly adversaries.