ANGER MANAGEMENT EPISODE 3 – “BE PREPARED” AS TOM LEHRER ALWAYS ADVISED”
The difficulty with a mediation is that you can only prepare so far. You see papers; you may see position statements; you begin to piece together items of information about the parties; you have a feel for the position adopted by lawyers – (not always involved) and you form some preliminary observations – not judgments, that is far too early but a picture begins to emerge.
And then you meet the parties – flesh on the bones at last. Actual people whose appearance and behaviour supplements significantly the initial thoughts you have had based upon the papers. You ask questions, you probe here and there, you make notes of points to return to and you listen and watch intently.
It is important to watch. Body language does matter – it is part and parcel of the whole picture. And you do not just watch the speaker who happens to hold the floor, you let your gaze wander to catch the reactions of other participants. A raised eyebrow, a shrug of the shoulders, a turning away in frustration – all go toward the whole picture.
Whilst you are observing, you are also thinking – maybe making notes, maybe committing to memory – but always alert. Remember the parties are thinking of Positions – you are thinking of Solutions. You are never working harder than when you appear to be quietly listening. Remember Joan Hickson’s Miss Marple – so beautifully acted and with the emphasis always on her observation rather than on her words.
Mediation is a most exciting intellectual challenge. Getting your brain into gear and identify the tension points and the possible explosions. Your skill is in getting to such points before the parties and keeping control of the process by having your own agenda.
A BREAK NOW UNTIL MONDAY 8 AUGUST WHEN I WILL PICK UP MORE ON MEDIATION AND ANGER. SPECIFIC EXAMPLES. HAVE A GOOD BREAK YOURSELVES AND THANKS FOR READING – GRAHAM PERRY