Since Charles has noted that there is no good way to teach the "be authentic" element of the three magic rules of being a successful mediator, it's time to tackle that subject. Authenticity needs no formal definition really. We all know it when we experience it. It is ironic that in a negotiation setting where everyone is either puffing, concealing, or stretching the truth, it is the mediator's path to be authentic at all times.
First, and counterintuitively, being authentic has in some part being comfortable with the fact that the participants in mediation are not being completely straightforward with you at all times. Most people believe that in the negotiation setting it is not only permissible, but part of the process, to not be honest. The ethics of the participants in your negotiation is outside the scope of our concern in the marketing minute, but suffice it to say that "calling out" someone in your negotiation on being truthful puts you in a tough position. It can be quite a faux pas.
Second, one has to assess one's own internal integrity in order to be authentic. Being authentic must not interfere with allowing people to save face. Authenticity requires consistency in verbal and non-verbal elements, and must resonate from the heart, not the mind. Think about a time in your personal life when you were speaking from the heart about a serious or emotional subject, even if your message was painful or difficult for the other person to hear. That feeling in your heart is where you find the root of authenticity.
So, authenticity as we use it is not the equivalent of rigidity, orthodoxy, or righteousness.
Instead, the participant must feel that you are acting non-deceptively, speaking the truth, and most importantly, that you believe what you are saying and doing in the process. How do you teach this?
The rules of mediation help. The mediator is to ensure procedural fairness, not substantive fairness. In short, you as mediator will be on a collision course with authenticity if you desire to control the outcome based upon what you think the right result is. This may seem controversial to some, but think about it. How can you act non-deceptively if you have an undisclosed outcome that you are trying to achieve? You will have a hidden agenda, and unless you are a sociopath or a skilled actor, this fact will leak out and your authenticity is jeopardized.
Remember, as a mediator, you are there to help the participants own the result. You are there to provide an experience that leaves them feeling that they had the control, and that you were of service. Next week we will talk about how you build trust and likeability with the participants to help develop your authenticity.