Mediation is a social core skill that lies veiled within each of us

Claudia Neves posted 4 months ago, 1 Responses
The ability to ask questions in the context of a conflict can be an important key to opening up possibilities to get out of what is established and which underlies the maintenance of the problem. Questions can give access to understandings that are not visible when the parties are stuck in answers already put in their own point of view. For this, it is important that the mediator is able to keep a distance from the conflict, so as not to confuse his own pains and experiences with what is placed before him. I understand the concept of mindfulness in this way. In my daily life, this practice helps me not to get mixed up in the turmoil of conflicts around me and allows me to feel more at peace and take on responsibilities that really fit me.
To place oneself as ignorant in the face of a conflict, to be aware that, however much experience you may have, each new conflict that presents itself has its own nature and diversity and, in fact, we know nothing about it, until information is presented by involved parties themselves. Furthermore, I am deeply touched by the statement that the perception of the truth in a conflict can be accessed at a level that does not depend on scientific theories, philosophical thoughts or prejudices. Knowing that I know nothing about the situation until it is presented by the parties, that it is necessary to deal with each situation as singular and ask questions, rather than offering answers, is a compass of my work in accompanying adolescents with mental suffering in conflict with the law at the Court of Justice of Minas Gerais, Brazil. However, knowing this does not guarantee that our performance will be successful, as the awareness required in mediation contexts goes far beyond the rational understanding of the elements involved. It is necessary to be attentive.
I recently failed a case follow-up. Analyzing the situation, I realized that the cause of the failure of my performance is linked to a position of power that I adopted, in a context in which some institutions involved in the case despised my presence in the discussion because they felt threatened in their functions. I committed myself to act directly with a party involved in the conflict situation that I did not have to, since I did not have the agreement of the other party and, thus, I lost the confidence of the adolescent in conflict with the law that accompanied it. Such a basic mistake, especially for someone who already has years of experience and reading, makes me reflect on how much my path as a mediator is being built at each meeting and that it is not possible to put aside my personal exercises of self-knowledge and meditative practices for to act effectively with the people with whom I am called to work.

Dear Claudia,

thank you for your thoughts. Yes, mindfulness helps me to avoid a mixing of issues. They are too often only connected to each other in our mind and thereby become bigger and more complex.

And yes, it it funny but even though I studied mediation and conflict resolution for so many years, the real competence that may enable us to work in a meaningful way, is to be found apart of academia. To me, it is only a misleading fantasy to witness that most trainers ‘sell’ the idea that models and theories are important to work on and with conflicts. I do not no any of them and I avoid to read about them because they might influence my perspective in a way that may not be fortunate to me.

Mediation belongs to the individual and not the academia and academic books. As you said, the diversity of mankind and thereby of conflict is so huge that no library could even cope with it. I believe that the best teacher is the human being and human exchange by itself.

I would not say that you failed a case, whatever happened – it is a consequence of the external and internal setting. More often than not, we are surprised by dynamics and changes. I think if you say that you failed, you might also have thought that you can control it. Here is the point that we can put into question. And I know very well that you know best that we can not control a conflict, case or human being. So, let us say … it was unfortunate in this specific moment, but still … something drove you to believe what you are doing is fine. Do not be too strict with yourself.

BR, Daniel