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Mediation and the Meta-Metaphor Too

by Randy Drew
October 2013 Randy Drew

“When the work takes over, then the artist listens.” - Madeleine L'Engle
You – like me – are probably not unique in any particular significant way, but you – like I – are significantly unique when all things are considered.  So that makes us the same, in a very particular way, on any given day; absurd?  I long to be irresistible, consistent, and correct.  What ends-up being consistent is my inability to meet those three objectives, simultaneously.

A recent article, Hope is the Best Medicine - Caryn Cridland set me t’ thinkin’ ‘bout emotional intelligence.  Acutely, Salovey & Mayer elucidate my lack of native altruistic comprehension.  In search of success, I write as I mediate, selfishly, committedly, so that you will appreciate me, and I will feel loved.  And in doing so, my every thought is of you, every word for you.  That is my best.

The other day Mom said that if the relentless call center solicitors got paid by the number of outbound calls placed, then she would be happy to spend the few extra moments on the phone with them, to make sure they got the credit to earn their paychecks.  No thought can exist in an emotional vacuum; and my thought was YIKES!

Like you, this set me to thinking, What does this have to do with mediation?

Communication, neutrality, conflict resolution, peacemaking, I thrashed through my mind, like a lost child in a wheat field.  Then, like an overarching self-referential concept that is an abstraction from another concept, used to complete or add to the former, it came to me.

A metaphor is a tool of cognitive emotional transference.  And that, my friends, is a repetitive redundancy. 

No thought lives in an emotional vacuum.  Armed with epistemology as my shield and logic as my sword, and comforted by my belief that the mind is more than sum of its parts, the brain, I was not achieving the level of success that was indicated by most measures.

I know the rules.  “You're short on ears and long on mouth.” - John Wayne; “An appreciative listener is always stimulating.” - Agatha Christie; “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are, and then wait to hear the answer.” - Ed Cunningham; and of course, “The problem is not the problem; the problem is your perception of the problem.” - Captain Jack Sparrow.

Thankfully, before the tiny ship was lost, I stumbled across a key ingredient missing from the ocean that is me the person, and thereby me the mediator.  Maybe, your ocean is not dissimilar from mine.  If so, this may help you, and that will be my pleasure (indirectly, of course, as described above).  Enter the Mayer-Salovey-Caruso Emotional Intelligence Test (MSCEIT), based on a decade of work by Jack Mayer and Peter Salovey. 

Fellow emotional nincompoops, here are your four categories.  (“Remember to phrase your answers as questions.” - Alex Trebek)

1. Perceiving Emotions – Do people sometimes act in ways that you failed to predict?
2. Using Emotions – Are you able to easily translate emotions you understand in your head to feelings in your body?
3. Understanding Emotions – Do you describe emotions in a rich manner?  Do you find yourself ascribing to naïve realism – that others understand the world tacitly as you do?  Do you see the predictability of chains of emotions?
4. Managing Emotions – Are you as good as you could be at incorporating your emotions and the emotions of others into cognitive reframing and decision making?

It would be counterproductive to carve-out a swath of peacemakers (I’ve spared you the obvious metaphor, here) simply because our best effort at altruism comes about indirectly.  Research strongly suggest that emotions are not chaotic, they can be understood and predicted and often follow certain rules or patterns. - David R. Caruso.  Because, it’s as if, there is hope for us all.  As Zelda says, Everyone has a name. 

Biography


Specializing in the impossible (well, if I get to write it), L. Randy Drew is Co-Executive Program Director of Southern California Family Mediation, humbly serving the California, Los Angeles Superior Dependency Court, and in partnership with the University of Southern California Gould School of Law’s Judith O. Hollinger Dispute Resolution Program.  From Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, USA, Randy is also associated with California State University Northridge, Pepperdine University, MBB, and SCMA.  In a former life, he resolved tens of thousands of consumer complaints, and serendipitously (as in, not by choice), spent the majority of his life inside some pretty impressive interpersonal conflicts and outside his comfort zone.

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