(or rather Greed, Lies, Hatred and Revenge)
…I am focusing on the parties. Almost all the disputes we mediate involve broken trust, or at least the perception of broken trust, and that fuels suspicion, expecting the worst of the offending party which, as a consequence, makes co-operating to achieve the best outcome much more difficult.
Our capacity to trust is precious. It profoundly matters when it is broken because it is the foundation of a functioning personality. It is also the bedrock of a healthy society. Broken trust is offensive, it is a personal affront and creates a lot of hurt. Re-building it is a long, careful and fragile process and it won’t happen over the limited time of a mediation. The best we mediators can expect is that a few building blocks are created as we help mend fractured communication and rebuild broken relationships. These building blocks can start with the first open session, as parties come face-to-face and have the opportunity to uncover the reasons for the trust being lost and the motivation of the offending party. It is an opportunity for assumptions to be tested and other truths to be recognised.
Trust relies on the truth and it is important for the mediator to give time to exploring why parties see facts and events differently and why their truths differ. The skills are basic. Helping each party to listen to the other’s story, recognising why the stories are different and encouraging them to value the other’s story as being real (the ‘truth’) to them, reduces suspicion and makes space for acceptance and understanding. Trust may not be rebuilt, but acceptance and understanding are good steps towards it.
Read more….part 3, chp 4, p365, How to Master Commercial Mediation, Bloomsbury 2015