LA Mediators

Mediators of Southern California

Being “Authentic” as a mediator-what do you think?

As each of you know, in mediation, when we listen, people talk. Talking about what really matters to them so they can reach their own solutions. During this process, while being authentic, I have caught myself slightly full of emotions for the parties and often wondered if this was defying the neutral classification that we as mediators must carry out?

Just recently, while I was mediating a couple who had been involved in a domestic dispute that had been festering for over two years. I had wondered to myself “How did these two people get to this place in their lives”? During the session, I listened whole heartedly with true authenticity.
It was like each party and especially one more than the other needed that time to be heard to transition through each grieving process. As I listened patiently, my questions were beginning to be answered. During that process, I felt a tear roll down my cheek. For just a moment, I found myself losing focus from one simple tear. Then refocusing and redirecting the conversation, I was able to move forward. After a few hours of separate caucus and then the final joint session the parties were able to reach a resolution with hugs and tears at the end. Now that was a true rainbow resolution.. from such a storm to ride out in the beginning.

However, when I was at home that night reflecting on this couple and how their story touched my heart I began to question myself again? Wondering if is okay to show a bit of emotions while mediating as long as it is positive? I was told that this is part of being “authentic” and I believe it is too. What do you think or maybe it is just a part of the feminine side of mediation?

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Comment by Kym Adams Director of CEDRS on November 5, 2009 at 11:40am
Too say the least is right! Just when we think we have heard it all there is another case that" takes the cake"! In addition, I have learned to expect the unexpected.

Thanks again Lamarr I always value your thoughts and opinion!
Kym
Comment by Lamarr Banks on November 5, 2009 at 8:05am
Hi Kym,

Wow! You are truly using your gifts! The idea of after the session reviewing what was said and what was heard is what I feel is the key to really resolving the dispute. My fellow Therapist and I did this after every session, so that we could be clearer on the next session as to what issues needed to be addressed! This is totally normal and necessary. It also relieved us (Therapist and Co-Facilitator) from carrying the pain into our selves. This is so crucial. One cannot let the "virus of pain" of the infected couples get into the facilitator or mediator. What you do after your sessions is also healing for you. Some of the couples sessions I took part in were very emotionally draining to say the least.

Sincerely,

Lamarr
Comment by Kym Adams Director of CEDRS on November 1, 2009 at 6:06pm
Thank you you Lamarr for taking the time to comment. I really appreciate your input. Your words just validated my thoughts. I have worked with divorce couples for over a decade but, only as a document preparer with light mediation. However, this past year I have been mediating divorced couples on a full scale and learning from each and every experience. After a session with a couple, I find myself thinking about it for hours. It really consumes me. Coming home and writing down my thoughts has helped me to reflect on what was or wasn't said or what should be done at the next session. I do see that most of the couples do care for each other but, usually not until the end. Yes, keeping it balanced is the key. Thank you again!
Comment by Lamarr Banks on November 1, 2009 at 5:34pm
Hi Kym,

I believe that showing emotions brings in the human aspect. When you are mediating for a couple, one has to feel the feelings of both sides of the fence. I think it comes from the very reason why one becomes a mediator, divorce attorney, counselor, life coach, Therapist, etc. We have our own stories behind our motives. We cannot help but to connect. Showing emotion shows you care. And to most people, that means a lot. I was a co-facilitator for a Marriage and Family Therapist in her couples group for 15 years. There were plenty of times I cried along with the couples in session. The Therapist did as well, but did not evoke emotion in her responses, she remained professional. I, on the other hand, conveyed my feelings so the couples could see that their emotions were heard, felt and validated. I think you are on the right track. If you work with people in regards to divorce or separation, eventually one has to feel their pain. I also feel, it helps you to reach a resolution for the couples, after all, the couples feelings for each other changed simply because of circumstances, but underneath it all, they still do care for each other. Anger seems to be the end result, blinding the couples to any ability to resolve their issues on their own. I think you will do well with this approach, as long as it is balanced. Just some input.

Sincerely,

Lamarr

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