David email@example.com 02/08/06
Thank you for your very interesting and informative article.
One of the things I found in ten years as a crisis counsellor was that you couldn't change a perons behaviour without first acknowledging/validating their perception or current world view. In subsequent years during extensive work in the health/hospital sector as a mediator I find the same thing applies. Apologies for example, without an acknowledgement or validation, simply get no traction, and can even inflame the issues involved. I have seen several cases where the files, in one case going back 17 years, are littered with apologies and none of them have worked because they lacked the validation/acknowledgement that you have written about.
Thank you again.
John , Cambridge MA 02/02/06
What People Argue About
Several responses to this important review.
1. Mediators need to help people decide what they are arguing about.
2. "They are arguing about control," I thought in the first years of mediating.
3. Then one evening meeting the wife dumped flowers on the head of her husband, who had brought her flowers for the meeting, because he did not want to pay her for cleaing up a barn that had been in his family for generations and were now about to sell. He thought he was being generous by sharing the proceeds 50-50. This dignified Boston woman suddenly stood up and started shouting at him, "You aren't paying me for my time because you don't think I'm worth anything! You never valued me in our marriage!"
4. So now I think our clients are arguing about two things: control and acknowledgement. Like Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces, these two issues take many shapes and sizes, forms and contexts, but they are ever present and worth unearthing no matter how deeply buried.
5. By "acknowledgement" I mean some expressed appreciation for the other person. I acknowledge this good book review, and thank Mediate.com for spreading the word. John A. Fiske