Mediation and Transference

When I was a chaplain, there were occasionally times when I would meet a new patient and they would want nothing to do with me. Rarely, there were times when people even called me names or told me to leave using swear words. I soon realized this had little to do with me, as these people didn’t even know me. Either they’d had a bad experience with a chaplain or pastor in the pastor had gotten a bad impression from someone else. In churches, it is most likely that I hail from a different denomination that they object to me as a consultant.

The same thing has just happened in a mediation: I was rejected because I’m a pastor. Most times, if people know I am a pastor it’s an advantage as they believe I will be especially fair or kind. But today someone cancelled a mediation appointment with me once they learned I was a pastor, even though we’d never met.

It’s a bit frustrating as there is little I can do to change the bad impression from a distance. I can say I have been mediating for years and when people meet me they have never felt that way. I can say that dozens of attorneys and other professionals, and hundreds of clients, appreciate my professionalism. But I guess it is something I must accept and move on. I would like to think it is their loss.

Mediation and Self Involvement

Is it possible to mediate your own disputes, whether church or marriage? Yes, but it tends to be difficult as the role of mediator implies neutrality and it’s hard to be neutral when dealing with your own problems, especially if the other person is driving you crazy.

Here are some tips if you want to try it on your own:

1) Listen, listen, listen. Never interrupt

2) Pause for a moment before you respond

3) Rephrase what you heard, what the person said, in your own words

4) Have the other person do the same for you.

5) Mediate at a mutually agreeable time, when both are feeling good (well rested, fed)

If you do these things, any discussion, heated or not, will go better

With most folks, by the time you get really passionate, you need a person to help and often if you don’t things get dramatically worse in a hurry