Updated: Jul 30, 2020
Mediation is a collaborative approach to resolving conflicts. Instead of having both parties pitted against each other in adversarial roles the parties work together to move toward resolution. Wait, how can we move together toward resolution if we want different things? Sounds like a bunch of therapy mumbo jumbo? Think again.
What You Want & Why You Want It.
As spouses coming to the end of the marriage or in any conflict between two people the discord perpetuates as long as both parties stay rooted in their positions.
It is the role of the mediator to guide you out of your positions and into your interest, to guide you away from what you want and toward why you want it. Why is this important?
The classic example is two sisters fighting over the only orange in the family pantry. Each sister must have the entire orange for herself, anything less is unacceptable. This is their position. A parent takes each daughter and separately asks them why she wants the orange. One says she wants to drink the juice; the other wants to use the rind to make a dessert. What each sister wants is her position, why she wants it is her interest. The simple and obvious solution is to give the rind to one after the juice has been squeezed for the other. Thereby, addressing both sisters' interests.
When parties move out of their positional space and into a space where they identify and recognize their needs/interests they become aware that even though their positions may be opposed their underlying interests may not be.
This is a very simple example that illustrates an important tenet of mediation. A skillful mediator will be able to facilitate a productive dialogue even when one or both parties become emotionally charged. It is a process that takes time, however it is a proven model that does help build communication skills for both parties to carry with them through their lives.