We’ve been surrounded by mediators since we were young:
When we fought with our siblings, are parents were the judges.
When the other kids at school didn’t play fair, our teachers were the arbitrators.
When our relationships fall apart, our friends are the advisers.
Where there is society, there is conflict, and where there is conflict, there have always been mediators, in one way or another.
It’s an age-old practice that’s existed as long as human beings have been communicating and as long as there has been communication, there has been misunderstanding.
Today I was invited by my department to sit in on a real mediation session. I learned a lot from watching it all spread out in front of me, live:
- It’s better for mediators to sit across from all disputants as opposed to at the head of the table.
- Explain the process to participants and they will take the process on themselves.
- Partner with a mediator of the opposite sex for family cases.
- It’s important to know when to take a break and when to let the momentum roll.
- Take culture into account, but don’t assume; just be open to culture being present.
- Never underestimate the power of women around a negotiation table.
What I learned, more than anything today, is that it would be an honor to serve society as a mediator and continue this human tradition.