GOOD MORNING FROM LONDON
THE NEIGHBOURS DISPUTE
EPISODE 6 – SUCCESS OR FAILURE
The Mediator has made progress. She has met with the two neighbours in their respective homes and provided them with the opportunity to let off steam. ‘Sounding Off’ is an important part of a mediation. The parties have to get matters off their chests, speak their mind and that can take time. The parties do not welcome you into their homes with open arms. They can be cagey and cautious but will want to make sure you understand their position. They are also measuring you up – getting a feel for the kind of person you are, working out whether you have the substance to be able to move matters forward. Sometimes, however, they may be going through the motions – wanting the mediation to fail so that they get into court or into an arbitration hearing.
There is quite a lot of “getting to know” on your part and you need a good helping of patience, tact and perception. Back to the artichoke metaphor – you are removing the leaves one by one rather than in a cluster. You need to listen intelligently and allow the parties to say their piece. Mrs Thatcher was much liked by some and much disliked by others but she had one special quality – she was a good listener.
You have been listening closely to what the Jacksons have to say – weighing up their words and trying to get a clear picture of their attitude to the Kendalls. You conclude that they are rather selfish and not too concerned about any inconvenience they might create for the Kendalls but you have picked up on the problems they have with their younger son and the question is whether you can use this issue both to help the boy and also to improve relations between the two families. Mrs Jackson has responded. She wants to give Mrs Kendall a chance to help the young son, She feels sorry for the boy – that much is now clear. The husband is less enthusiastic – he is too success oriented to devote time to the boy’s problems.
But a new element has arisen. Mrs Jackson says enough for you to realise that the older boy is also concerned for his brother. A quiet aside with the mediator while she is making tea in the kitchen alerts you to the significance of the older brother’s strong feelings for his young brother. You think quickly and when you resume with both Mr and Mrs Jackson present, you sense you have momentum and the time is right to bring things together and suggest that Mrs Kendall meets one-to-one with the young boy and starts the process of addressing the boy’s speaking problems.
You are feeling good. A breakthrough has been made and a link has been established between the two families which, if successful, could begin the process of improving relationships between the Kendalls and the Jacksons. You have confidence in Mrs Kendall to help the boy – it is the start that the mediator has sought.
THE FINAL EPISODE (7) – MEDIATIONS SUCCEED AND MEDIATIONS FAIL