“You? A mediator? If I remember correctly, weren’t you kind of a troublemaker?”
This question came from a buddy of mine I hadn’t seen in a while. We had worked together a long time ago and recently met for coffee to go over old times and catch up with one another. His memory of our working years together may have been slightly different than mine, but his recollection of me most likely had some truth to it. I will say, though, that if he meant I was a troublemaker as in drama queen who can’t stand a quiet moment and has to stir up dust wherever she goes; then, no, I wasn’t a troublemaker. If he meant troublemaker as in not being afraid to talk about the elephant in the room; then, yes, that was probably me. And, thank goodness! Because, you see, a lot of my experience as a troublemaker then has made me a better mediator today.
Stay with me now. In order to be fearless enough to point out the elephant in the room one must first be able to see the elephant—the entire elephant, not just the side one chooses to identify. Similarly, to resolve problems effectively one has to have the willingness to see all sides of an issue. You have to be comfortable with looking at everything surrounding an issue like understanding motivation and accepting your part in a conflict. And, that ability doesn’t always come easy or is seen as a good thing by those around you.
Once upon a time I thought that my coworkers were better at analyzing group dynamics and identifying individual motivation than I was because my assessment of what was happening with our team often didn’t match their diagnoses. If majority rules; I was wrong a lot. It wasn’t until I had more experience under my belt and then worked hard at a new career as a mediator that I realized I actually did know what I was talking about. I had skills! Thankfully, I’m now much better at identifying and communicating my observations.
So, if being called a troublemaker means that I’m not willing to stand by and pretend that I don’t see the person in the cubicle across from me fibbing to the boss or that it feels strange to me to ignore the fact that an AWOL coworker was shopping while the rest of us set-up the entire booth at the sales conference, well then I guess I’m a troublemaker. As a well-rounded troublemaker I also made sure to acknowledge those who worked hard, those who had innovative ideas, and those who really did have the company’s best interest at heart. I suppose that’s why, after all these years, my buddy still considers me a friend.