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Mediation, The Sensible Approach

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Walking the Razor’s Edge

Walking the Razor’s Edge by Ada Hasloecher{2:33 minutes to read} We mediators often do walk a very fine line indeed. We work with couples who have either waited for the mediation to start before bringing up past grievances with each other, or who are triggered when a particular topic ignites a buried and/or unexpressed anger. When that happens, the mediator must almost immediately make the call on how far to allow the situation to play out before stepping in either to stop it or to guide it to its necessary (or unnecessary) conclusion. Not so easy.

No matter how much training, schooling, and education a mediator has had, this is one arena where experience really matters. And I believe that experience matters because when it comes up, it is visceral, explosive, and catastrophic. If the mediator doesn’t get a handle on it and know what to do about it, it can totally derail the mediation. You can’t grasp the full import of it and how you are going to react from reading a book or hearing someone else’s experiences. You may get the concept but you can’t “get” the reality. It takes time to gain that experience.

We always say that our clients are in charge of the content and the mediator is in charge of the process. In this one arena, the mediator must be in control of the process lest the clients flip out and walk out. There are techniques we learn in our training and continuing education, for sure. But we are human beings first and mediators second. How we deal with, feel about, and cope with conflict is the question we ask ourselves daily as we are entrenched in the storm of our client’s conflicts.

I’m thinking of one such mediation I recently conducted. Infidelity brought them to my office. The process went fairly smoothly at first, with both agreeing to “do this as quickly as possible.” However, soon enough:

  • Accusations started
  • Name-calling commenced
  • Apologies to me for their behavior occurred
  • They rarely spoke outside of the mediation

They each admitted to acting inappropriately by involving others who should not have been involved in their personal business. But there was hurt, anger, betrayal, guilt—the whole gamut of emotions that are rife at the end of a marriage.

I knew that until the undercurrent of what had been brewing was expressed, the mediation would not be able to come to its rightful conclusion. So I was able to create the atmosphere for what needed to be said in a forum of safety and boundaries. All the while, monitoring them, myself and honoring the process. A process that has been years in the making, learning to walk that razor’s edge.

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Ada L. Hasloecher

Divorce Mediator / Center Founder
Divorce & Family Mediation Center, LLC
Phone: 631-585-5210
eMail: Info@DFMCLI.com
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One Comment

  1. Steven June 21, 2016 at 1:22 pm

    This is a great article. I like the phrase “Honoring the Process” This is so important in so many areas.

    Steve

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