When people are trying to work out a particularly difficult problem in mediation, whether church mediation or divorce mediation, a couple things happen. Tempers begin to flair, of course, and often cutting and/or sarcastic remarks are exchanged. What else happens?
Often the fight or flight response comes on in your brain.When that happens, people have about 7 seconds to calm down, so experts tell me, before the brain is flooded with biochemicals. Now that isn’t bad when you’re a primitive person trying to deal with a tiger or a fire that might be coming your way. But it’s not very helpful when it comes to civil discussions. After 7 seconds, even if people do calm down, those chemicals stay in your system for 12 hours or until you sleep next. So in a sense, even if you do calm down after being upset, you’ve still lost, because those biochemicals are going to hang out in your brain, making arguments or emotional withdrawal much easier.
Sometimes the best thing you can do is to call it a day for the mediation session. Sometimes you can continue to work if you are in separate rooms, but it’s slower. If you do manage to calm people folks down in those first 7 seconds, then it is still best to take a break or at least work with just one party or group.
This can make divorce mediation or church mediation slow, tenuous and spread over many days. But often doing it this way is the only real opportunity for change in a challenging situation. The only other alternative is court, sad, but true