Culture of War

War, Fight Continues, Battle Rages On, Fight to the Finish, “A” & “B” Continue Attacks

Sure, I could be talking about actual war between two armies but all too often these headlines refer to anything but actual armed conflict. It’s between politicians, feuding corporations, neighborhood organizations, civic groups and businesses. And it’s not just the papers, but the people themselves use the same language.

Why is it so? Is it a part of our culture to refer many of our interactions as some sort of violent confrontation? Do we always need an enemy?

Keeping all of this in mind is important when preparing clients for mediation. It is also important if you are the mediator as you might have two parties entering the mediation thinking it is another ‘battle’ to be fought.

In preparation, it is key to let the parties know that this is not a battle, but in fact the only way for the mediation to be successful is if both are willing to work together. Butting heads, and win at all costs is for another time and place, not in the mediation room!

I must also realize just because I know this, the other parties might not be able to handle, or absorb all of this at once. Plus, certain situations like community mediation and court based mediation there is no time for you to prepare the parties. A mediator does not find out about the case until the moment the parties are walking towards you. You basically have your brief introduction to explain the joys of collaboration and that is if they are even listening to you.

This is why it is important to include certain statements in your opening remarks. Hopefully, your opening statement will help set the tone of the next couple of hours, so make sure it is fine tuned.

We have no control of the ominpresent references of war in the media, but what we do have control over doing is our best to prepare the parties to work together, and then making sure we promote that concept in the negotiation or mediation.

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