And Now for Something Completely Different

People come to me with their disputes usually when they’re at wit’s end.

They’ve been trying to fix it themselves, and whatever it is they were doing isn’t working. If it ever worked before, it isn’t working anymore now.

They know the definition of crazy: doing the same thing and expecting a different result. They know things need to be different to reach a different result. They get that. If they want a different result, something’s got to change.

And they know the solution. They already know exactly what it’s going to take. Something needs to change, and that something is the other person.

They know what’s needed: the other person needs to be reasonable. To stop being so emotional, to calm down, to be rational. To see things clearly and objectively. To acknowledge that they were wrong and come around to reason. And to see things their way.

So when they talk to me, they hear me say that in the mediation things are going to be different. They like hearing that. A lot. Because each of them thinks that I’m going to make the other person change.

That’s not what I do, of course. If they do find their way to a solution of their common problem, it’s because each of them has changed themselves in a very real way.

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used when we created them.
– Albert Einstein

For us to resolve a conflict, ultimately the thing that has to change is the way we are thinking. Resolution comes in our disputes when we think about them differently.

Changing our thinking isn’t like changing our socks. It wouldn’t usually work too well in a mediation, straight out of the chute, for me just to point to everybody’s brain-pans and tell them they all need to start thinking differently.

For our thinking to be different, something else has to change first. At the start we don’t know what that is. It may turn out to be a few things. Or just one thing. Or it may be nearly everything.

So when you mediate with me, we start changing things up. We’re looking to find that thing that when it’s changed gets people thinking differently.

The first thing we change is who’s involved: there’s a mediator now. Just my being there is a something different.

You’re also going to be talking with each other in a different way now. Even if you’re in different rooms, I’m working with you on how you’re going to be changing the way you communicate with each other. And that’s different, too.

When you mediate with me, together we’ll be looking for opportunities to do things differently. Any one of them could be the thing that changes the way we are all thinking – you, me and the other person. It becomes the catalyst for the new thinking ¬†to solve your common problem and create your solution.

When you’re in a dispute with someone, what are some of the other things you can do differently yourself to change everyone’s thinking?

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.