Updated: Oct 2, 2021
What is Mediation? Yes, I said mediation, not meditation, although that's good too.
Since the dawn of man, we have encountered conflict. In the beginning, we may have been arguing about which cave was ours, or who killed dinner that night. While our conflicts today are more sophisticated, the need for good processes to facilitate resolution exists now more than ever. In fact, we are now so diverse in culture, socio-economic, political, religious, and even age categories, that the level and nuance of conflict can be even muddier to navigate. The last several years have demonstrated just how polarized we really can be. And if that weren't bad enough, we are suffering the financial effects of a pandemic, strained relationships from within and without from having our lives turned upside down for over a year, all at time when the courts are backlogged and our futures seem very uncertain. The need is great!
Your first experience with a mediator was probably one of your parents, or a family member, as the family unit is the initial environment of our first experience with conflict. However, as you grew and moved out into the world you began to encounter conflict in more complex settings, say with a significant other, at school, or in the workplace. Intermediaries may have appeared in the form school counselors, therapists, or human resources. More likely, there may have been none of those and so you resolved conflict on your own to whatever degree of satisfaction you were able to achieve. Or at the other extreme, you just gave up and gave in. We have all experienced some or all of these forms of conflict resolution. But how effective were they for us?
Most forms of current conflict resolution are set up so that one overriding party dictates what the end result will be. Think back for a minute, in your family it was your parents, in school it was a teacher or the principal (if it got bad enough), in the workplace human resources or your boss, and if you have a legal dispute over money, property, rights, etc., it is a Judge or Arbitrator. Mediation, is the only setting where you and the other party/parties can come seeking a win-win solution crafted by, and agreed to by YOU. As a result, all the parties leave feeling more satisfied than if they had been told "how it was going to be."
Speaking as someone who has been in almost every legal position in the system, including a litigant, a jurist, a practicing attorney, and adjudicator, I can assure you the benefits of mediation far outweigh the effects of litigation. Most clients report being physically, emotionally, and financially drained at the end of the process, that can take months or even years. All of this, not to mention strained relationships with friends, colleagues, and family. Some of these relationships may never heal. And here is the great irony! Many courts require parties to mediate prior to trial anyway. So why not start with mediation?
I have been pondering this question for a while now, and have come up with some plausible reasons. First, people don't know about mediation as an option to litigation. This one is surprising because mediation has literally been around since the dawn of man in some form or another, be it a shaman, wise elder, religious leader, etc. Somehow it has become a last resort before trial in most cases, or somewhere you are ordered to go.
Second, we have been conditioned to think if we have a legal problem we have to take it to court". As a society, we have become more litigious, in part due to our diversity and lack of community. If you lived in a small village or tight-knit community you would be far more likely to work things out with your neighbor. Moreover, if your community was small enough, you might know nearly everyone in it, and they might know you. This familiarity lends itself to conflict avoidance and community accountability. By contrast, if you live in a big city and you have a conflict with someone, you have no pre-existing relationship to encourage resolution. Therefore, "I'll see you in court" becomes our default to conflict resolution.
Third, and this one perplexes me, some people are more comfortable with other people telling them how their conflict will be resolved. What's more they are willing to pay a very high price for someone else telling them what to do. We believe there is a better way.
I founded Blend Mediation because I believe mediation is a more efficient and satisfying way to resolve conflicts, that not only saves time, money, and relationships, but empowers people to work together to create agreeable solutions. As a result, the level of understanding and compliance is increased, and tension and disappointment abated. We hope you consider mediation for as your next conflict resolution process.