FROM ANGER AND BITTERNESS TO RELIEF AND SMILES – A SUCCESSFUL MEDIATION!
One of the joys of mediation is when parties are able to not only resolve the conflict, but also come to terms with their emotions.
I recently conducted a business mediation between two directors who had been with the same company for over 15 years. The company was going through some financial problems.
Let’s call them Bob and Jane. On the day of the mediation, Jane appeared calm and ready to work towards a solution. Jane was ready to admit her fault and move on. Bob, however, came to the mediation in an angry and bitter mood. He felt he was the victim.
During our initial private session, Bob was cursing and quite agitated and angry towards Jane. He blamed her for all of the current business problems and wanted her out and to walk away. When I asked him what his goals were today, Bob stated he wanted resolution on his terms. I then asked if he would feel able to sit down and have a conversation with Jane. I wanted them to not only try and resolve the matter, but more importantly to listen to each other. Bob said he would try.
After meeting with Jane in a private, we started the joint session. I had hardly completed the Agreement to Mediate before Bob became very upset and started making rude and snide remarks about Jane. I immediately intervened and called a private session. I started with Jane and she explained that besides the fact that the business was in a downturn, Bob’s wife had been diagnosed with cancer and his oldest child was involved with drugs. Jane stated that she had rarely seen Bob this angry, agitated and mean.
So then I had a private session with Bob and said I wanted to check in on how he was doing. He became quite emotional and began to open up about the problems with the business and his personal life. He apologized and said he wanted to resolve it, but only on his terms. After a time, we went back into joint session.
It took another 5-6 private sessions to assist the parties and particularly Bob to refocus on the goals and objectives of the mediation.
Half way through the mediation, Bob smiled at one of my jokes. I asked him how he was feeling and he smiled again.
Finally, by the end of the 6 hour mediation, the parties had reached full agreement and had set a time in several months for a review. Bob was smiling at the end and thanked me profusely for helping resolve the matter and hearing him out.
I walked out of there feeling like a million dollars! It is just a wonderful feeling when I can help someone not only resolve a specific problem, but also to achieve some emotional calm.
I love my job!