As human beings, we all have emotions. Emotions are what make us alive and what allow us to appreciate our very existence. Emotions are good things provided they do not overtake our reason. With emotions, like with most everything in life, moderation is the key. (For you philosophers out there, yes, I know one could ask “is it important to be moderate about moderation?” When I start a philosophy blog, we can explore that issue. For now, bear with me.)
When emotions overtake reason, they can create conflict. Ironically, conflict can then create further emotions and people can get trapped into a never ending cycle of emotion and conflict. One way to avoid getting into conflict, or to extricate one’s self from conflict, is to understand that emotions must be appreciated, respected and controlled. Part of my role as a mediator is to help people identify what is the driving force of the dispute in which they are involved and to ensure that their motivation is healthy and productive and not unhealthy and destructive. As an emotional person myself, I appreciate how people can and do feel quite indignant after having been treated unjustly. As a lawyer, I’ve litigated a good many cases based on people’s emotions.
My goal in mediation is to help people understand that they should focus on obtaining the best possible solution under the facts and to understand that being indignant about the dispute is perfectly understandable but not necessarily helpful to resolving the dispute. I do not ask for people to forgive another for that other person’s wrong when the other person refuses to apologize. This is because it is an immoral request and I do not subscribe to the “forgive others for your sake if not for theirs” school of thought. (That’s nonsense in my view although there are a lot of mediators and psychologists that would take issue with me. I will post another blog on apology and forgiveness sometime soon.) I do ask people, however, to understand that life is often unfair — and that being mature requires an acknowledgment of that fact — and that the best a person can do to right a wrong is just that…the best that he or she can do. To the extent a wrong cannot be set right, I ask people to leave it to karma or God to resolve. My personal belief is that no one escapes the consequences of their conduct and I encourage mediation participants to keep that in mind as the mediation unfolds.
In sum, mediation is a perfectly acceptable forum to express your emotions either to me in a separate meeting called a “caucus” or to all parties in what is referred to as a “joint session.” I will assist you to do that but I will also remind you and your counterpart that there is a healthy and productive way to express those emotions and an unhealthy and unproductive way to do so. Having lived life as long as I have, I have experience with both approaches on both a personal and professional basis.
Feel free to contact me at your convenience to discuss your mediation needs or answer your questions.