by Elana Nanney
Are you upset all the time?
Would you rather see a ghost than your roommate?
Do you and your partner keep changing the paper’s font to annoy each other?
Do you cringe when your parents call because you often argue?
Maybe mediation is for you…
Whose side are you on? When you’re arguing with someone, do you ask your friends, coworkers, or family members to answer that question? We all do in one way or another. We all want someone on our side. We want people to tell us that we’re right for feeling and acting as we do. Unfortunately, people taking our side in conflict isn’t what is best for us. At the David O. McKay Center for Intercultural Understanding, mediators are trained to help people transform and resolve conflicts. One important thing mediators avoid is taking people’s sides.
What is your favorite feeling? Is it happiness? Joy? Gladness? Excitement? Anticipation?
What happens to that feeling when you get into an argument with someone? Conflict can be a dampener in our lives. It can overshadow the bright hours and intrude on the joyous days. Conflict can keep us from accomplishing our goals and living the life we want to live. So, why do we let ourselves stay in conflict?
Everyone gets into conflicts. It’s normal. Though it is natural to get into arguments and conflicts, we need not stay in them. We need not let them continuously affect our lives. We can get out of conflict. Sometimes, we can do it ourselves. Other times, we need someone else to help. Mediators provide that help.
What is mediation? You may ask. Mediation is a kind of conflict resolution where a third party--who often is not invested in the conflict or really familiar with the mediation participants--comes in to help parties resolve their conflict.
The goal of transformative mediation is to help participants transform their relationships, so that they will be able to handle their future conflicts without mediators’ help. In this kind of mediation, mediators seek to create an environment where the parties can rebuild, repair, or strengthen their relationship. To do this, mediators must be unbiased and impartial. That is why they cannot take anyone’s side in an argument. As parties improve their relationship, they come to see the conflict from a different perspective. This new perspective helps them resolve their own conflicts.
Transformative mediators do not provide solutions for specific conflicts. They do not share their opinions about what will work to end the conflict and what will not. Mediators instead facilitate and promote honest and open discussion of issues and potential solutions. The parties in mediation then decide on what course of action to take.
Why don’t mediators come up with a solution? Aren’t they the professionals? Shouldn’t they listen to the situation, decide who is right and who is wrong, and then give a verdict?
Would that help you? More importantly, would having the solution to your current argument provided for you help you stay out of conflict later on? In the future, will you get along better with your ‘enemy’ because of a solution created by someone else? Maybe, but usually not. Transformative mediators help you deal with current conflicts and come to see your ‘enemy’ more as a friend, so you can deal with future conflicts without a mediator.
How can I find a mediator? Student mediators at the McKay Center are eager to help you. They take a class where they learn mediation and spend more than twenty hours practicing it. Reka Bordas is the Mediation Field Director for the McKay Center. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org and she will help you find the right mediator for you.
Will you take this chance to transform your life? Just remember, we won’t be on your side, but it will be for your good.