Someone recently asked me what made me go into mediation. I launched into a rather impassioned speech and at the end he asked if I had written about this. Evidently, I had more to say on the matter than I realized so I took his advice.
I became interested in mediation because I saw in my work with organizations and my observations about human nature that while our basic state involves a fair amount of discomfort or even suffering, we rarely make a change to relieve that suffering unless we are in crisis. Sometimes “bottoming out” is a solo experience, but more often it happens when two (or more) people face a conflict. That conflict may have been just beneath the surface for months or even years, but eventually something will happen that triggers an all-out crisis. Once that has occurred, it’s almost impossible to go back to the status quo.
For the person in this storm, it looks bleak. It’s chaotic and confusing. But this is the time when real change happens in a person’s life. This is when we grow.
I believe that I can impact long-term destructive behaviors by helping someone through this transition phase. For example, when the romantic relationship dissolves and the couple gets to that intolerable crisis phase, communication completely unravels. They typically become unable to talk exactly when they need to the most. The patterns that they’ve developed of anger and frustration become more entrenched. If I can help them sit down and listen to one another, to experience being heard and understood just for a moment, they may see their situation and the other person differently. They may even begin to build different patterns.
Yesterday at the end of a particularly fruitful mediation session, one party turned to the other and said “Look, we can always have this type of communication from on. If we can’t do it on our own, we can come back here.” That’s what I’m going for!