Cheers-log 2011-09 Mediation


I’ve had a running conflict with the school principal, and mediation was suggested – but it was doomed to fail because the mediator didn’t know the processes mentioned here.

Mediation. A word we use generically to mean keeping two parties from fighting whilst they sort their differences. But there’s more to mediation than you first think – the art of reconciliation has detail. The Peace-Maker, by Ken Sande outlines personal peace-making, and if you go on and learn more in the seminar series, you can become a mediator.

A mediator would:

  • Coach BOTH parties beforehand, to
    – prepare a genuine apology, that gives hope for things to be different in future
    – prepare your story, that gives understanding, empathy.
  • Meet when all is prepared by both parties, so the way ahead is already obvious.
    – share stories,
    – share apologies, and
    – form a joint statement for the future, that you can both sign
  • Share the joint statement with as many who have been effected by the dispute.

In our “mediation,” despite assurances that the principal would ‘be prepared’ – he hadn’t been prepared at all (poor guy). So at the meeting, I gave my apology, it was accepted, the end! 

The end? Er… Where is the foundation for future trust? No recognition of his part in the conflict, no apology, equals no likelihood that anything will change.” So I can give no trust in that environment. There can be no reconciliation.

When I tried to express this, I was quickly made to look like the troublemaker, the one “not willing to end this dispute.” In actual fact, I am the one looking for real reconciliation.

So here are lessons for me:

  1. Mediation means different things. What you’re going into may be called mediation, but it may not be real mediation. Let’s explain carefully what everyone means, before we go into it. All need to be confident in the process. Now I have a good model to start with.
  2. No wonder Aboriginal reconciliation is so far off, when good mediation processes are so hard to find.
  3. Peacewise are onto it. Want to join me in getting equipped for this massive need?
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