Mediation: why it doesn't work
Over the last few weeks I've been having lots of conversations with clients, contacts and friends about mediation and there's one phrase that keeps cropping up.
"It wouldn't work for us".
Interestingly, "the phrase", as I'm calling it, is usually preceded with the person listing, sometimes at some length, all of the benefits of mediation. It's confidential, it's cheaper than going to court, it lets you bring in other issues than just my claim, it's got a high success rate, I know someone who's used it and loved it...
So why is it that having understood - and accepted - the very many benefits to mediation, that "the phrase" often follows?
It's complicated. It's always easier to view someone else's situation, and be calm and practical when weighing up the pros and cons of different strategies for that other person.
When it comes to our own problems or disputes, it's, well, personal.
When we live our conflict or dispute, it's difficult to see how a non-adversarial, flexible method of dispute resolution like mediation can possibly bring about a solution, especially when both sides have become entrenched. We think - and, I'd say - we've been educated to think that court, and the old-school table-thumping, cross-examining, Judge-with-wig-deciding-who's-right is the best way.
It's really not.
Mediation can open up ideas and solutions that parties have never even thought about. It gives everyone their own space and time to really think about the effect on them (and, hopefully, the other parties too) of the dispute so far, and if it continues. This, in itself, can be powerful.
Resolution lets business-owners concentrate on the day to day of their business, and look to the future. Resolution lets individuals move on from the weight of conflict and dispute and concentrate on what really matters - friends, family, work, hobbies.
So if you are involved in a conflict or a dispute - be it business-related, workplace, or personal and you are completely and definitely sure that mediation won't work for you, here's a challenge:
Get a piece of paper and write down all the things you could do if you didn't have the conflict or dispute hanging over you.
Now write down what you would say to the other party if you had the chance to do so calmly and confidentially.
And what they would say to you.
Would this help you both move towards a solution? I'm going to stick my neck out and say that yes, it very likely would, because I bet you have never before had the chance to have this type of conversation.
Mediation can give the parties the chance to look and move forward, focussing on the future rather than looking back. Give yourself this chance if you're experiencing conflict or a dispute.