Reasons Not To Mediate Number Two

We don’t get on. We always argue when we talk about this. He/she is completely unreasonable. We don’t agree. Well there you go. Just a small selection of the sort of things which people advance as reasons not to mediate. When people even know what mediation is, there is a fairly common misconception that only couples who are at least civil to each other can mediate at all.

In fact I would say that all the reasons advanced actually argue for the need to mediate if there is ever to be any chance of reaching settlement. Whilst it’s great (and rare in my experience) to work with a couple who still respect each other and start out wanting to work together to achieve mutually satisfactory goals, many of my mediation clients enter the process with varying degrees of hostility, anger, distrust and misunderstanding. The mediation process offers a way of having a conversation which differs significantly from any other attempts at direct discussion. It is a conversation conducted by a neutral third party. The mediator sets the boundaries and directs that conversation towards attempts at resolution. So many direct conversations are stressful and negative because they follow the same old tracks so are guaranteed to reach the same dead end every time. The mediator’s task is to try to avoid that by  keeping on returning a couple to a focus on the future and how they may get there.

I’ve often found it easier in some ways to work with a couple who aren’t too keen on each other as neither has any reticence about advancing what is important to him or her without worrying about hurting the other’s feelings. It can be tremendously difficult to get a couple who are very polite with each other to jump off the fence sufficiently that one ever finds out what each is looking for.

After all there are countless training courses on and books written about how to work with high conflict clients. Such work is a recognised part of mediation. In the best such cases mediation effects a change in how each client views the other. Even where that is a totally unrealistic aspiration, the mediator may well help such clients to craft an outcome which actually works for them both.

So, “No” I say to anyone who advances such reasons for not mediating. It could well be that mediation is exactly what you need. After all wouldn’t resolution feel good?


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