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The Magic of Mediation

When I am mediating, I sometimes find myself taking a bird’s eye view, and I am amazed.  Mediation works, and it often works almost like magic.  I’ve asked myself, what is it about mediation that is so special?  Is it some special trick that I do?  Is it a formula?  Is it convincing parties that they need to “settle” their case?  None of the above!

Yes, there is technique and skill involved in being a good mediator.  Yes, the personality of the mediator is important.   The amazing thing, though, is that none of these is the “magic” factor.  It is not “I” who resolves the issues.  It’s as if I’m merely a channel for something else, something deeper.  For, in actuality, the parties to mediation are the ones who help themselves.   While I do provide specific tools, processes, and an avenue for parties to work through conflict that otherwise they could not have resolved on their own, the fact is that once these tools are in place, the conflict sometimes almost seems to resolve itself.

The magic of mediation is the fact that it works so well.  Often, not only is agreement reached but both parties are happy, or at least feel that the conflict was addressed as well as it could be.  This level of satisfaction with the process and the outcome, and the “magic” of reaching agreement after months or years of intractable conflict, is even more astounding when one considers that the mediator does not impose their own judgment.  The parties come up with the solutions all by themselves.  (Self determination is actually a necessary part of authentic mediation.  The parties must have 100% “ownership” over the solution.)  And yet, the process is so powerful!  Something about mediation enables the parties to achieve a different level of consciousness, awareness, or cooperation.   Solutions come up that no one ever would have thought of before.

It was Einstein who said something like, “A problem cannot be solved by applying the same level of consciousness that created it.”  Sometimes I feel as if the parties are lifted up to a different level, as a result of the mediation process, to where they can have a different perspective, or a different kind of ability to see and understand their conflict.

Walking in the woods the other day, I came across a scene that reminded me of how I sometimes think about mediation.

Imagine you are walking through a swamp.  Conflict is like that swamp.

swamp

Conflict is not fun!  Conflict is not just cold and wet.  Conflict is also muddy and mucky.

As you wade into conflict, you don’t know how deep it is.  Even the shortest distance can become impassable.

You get bogged down in it.  It can even be dangerous.  You wonder, how to get out.

Often, parties to a conflict can’t see their way to a “win-win” solution.  They lack confidence that things can be worked out peacefully.  They are angry.  They don’t trust the other side.  They think they have to go to court and have a judge impose an outside solution, in order to resolve the conflict.

The good news is that if both parties will come to mediation, there’s a good chance that they can resolve the issues on their own.  For even the most difficult conflict, mediation actually provides a path.

The mediator doesn’t come up with the answers.  The mediator doesn’t do your work for you.

What the mediator provides is a process.  That process is like a boardwalk to help you get through it yourselves.

swamp boardwalk

The neutrality of the mediator, and the skill of the mediator in providing a process, provides a structure and a system that helps parties address their conflict in an understandable, even minded way.

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It gets you out of the mud and onto a dry spot where you can think and move forward.

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The point of mediation is that it helps you focus on where you need to be, where you want to go, what your long term goals are.  And then it helps you – both parties – find a way to get there.  Mediation provides parties with a neutral and fair mechanism to work through conflict.  Once parties find the bridge to agreement, the rest is often like magic.

Do you wish you could find an answer to painful or difficult conflict?  To explore whether mediation might be an option for you, fill out the contact form below:

Nine Reasons to Mediate Your Conflict

1. Mediation keeps you in control.  In mediation, parties retain 100% control over their agreement, unlike court which puts matters into the hands of a stranger who may or may not share their values.  The mediator does not determine the outcome of the dispute – the parties do.

2. Mediation is private.   No one needs to know that you have gone to mediation. Though there are a few exceptions (like child abuse or threats of violence), pretty much nothing said during a mediation can be held against a party later in court.

3. Mediation is cost effective.  Both parties split the cost of the mediator as well as any experts that are required. But also, because it de-fuses conflict and help parties work together instead of against each other, mediation most likely requires fewer paid hours.

4. Mediation resolves the dispute . The parties to mediation generally agree that their agreement is enforceable in court, and there are fewer enforcement actions because a voluntary agreement is less likely to be challenged.

5. Mediation saves relationships.  Gain the satisfaction of knowing that a disagreement has been resolved in a peaceable manner.

6. Mediation is at your own pace.  Parties might reach agreement in one session, scheduled almost immediately. On the other hand, sometimes people need time to mull things over and adjust to ideas.  So long as the parties are moving forward with progress, mediations can be scheduled over several sessions, thus enabling all parties to sort out all options and come to peace with various solutions.

7. Mediation enables parties to be creative. Mediation enables parties to address root causes of conflict through every means available, including options or strategies that would not be available by way of court order.

8. Mediation allows you to communicate your position.  Unlike court, in which testimony is tightly controlled, mediation allows parties to air their dispute fully in a process which is designed to encourage each other to really listen, hear, and understand.

9. Mediation is low risk Mediation has an easy exit. If either party feels mediation isn’t working, the parties can return to the old way of doing things.

Need more information?  Click HERE for a more extensive article explaining what mediation is and what its benefits are, or HERE for a list of 20 reasons!

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The first thing I’d advise someone seeking a divorce is to consider, “how you will pay for it?”  In addition to calculating how to run two households on a budget that has previously been used to run one household, another question relevant to the immediate question of divorce is, “How will you pay the attorney’s fees for the divorce?” Reducing the initial outlay of cost is one significant reason to choose mediation in your divorce case. Read More

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The simple answer is that any type of conflict can be mediated.  Don’t wait until a relationship is badly damaged or litigation expenses have become outrageous!  Not sure whether mediation is needed?  Schedule a free consultation to discuss your questions in person.  Call Alexandria Skinner at 803-414-0185 or ask a question on this form: Read More

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