May 28, 2010
A Hard Truth of the Mediation Process: It Ain’t Over ‘Til the Fat Lady Sings
Recently I had two sessions in a matter of days where one person during each session said basically the same thing to me, “We’re not getting anything done! We’ve been at this for months, and we have nothing to show for it! Are we dragging this out? This constant talking is not producing results!”
I knew that both sets of clients were close to finishing the mediation process, despite the feeling that they weren’t getting anywhere. And those two sets of clients ended up in two very different places soon thereafter.
At one set of clients’ next session, they came to resolution on all their outstanding issues, and when I said to both of them, “The hard part is over, you’re basically done,” they both exclaimed what a surprise that was, they were pleased, and in hindsight it really hadn’t been so bad. (Yes, that’s a very common response to coming to agreement, and it makes me smile.)
At the other set of clients’ next session, they came to agreement about their community house, and other things, and the end stayed in sight. But a week later I got that rare email: the person who said mediation was not moving fast enough for them was going to have their lawyer take over from there. And because the traditional system is almost always more expensive and takes longer, and often gives unexpected and unintended results, her email left me hoping that they would end up as the exception to the norm.
So what could be learned from the experiences of these mediation clients’ experiences?
- The mediation process is 70% information gathering, 20% option development, and only 10% negotiation; that means that yes, you don’t feel that sense of relief of having a clear picture of your future, until the very end
- Since that sense of relief from having a clear picture of your future does not happen until the very end of the meditation process, you need to get support or work out how to manage your stress during the 90% of the process it takes to get to the end