The Christmas season is a festive one. People often have a few days off right into the new year before work resumes. For many, it is time to catch up with family and friends, therefore involves travelling and parties. People receive multiple invitations and there are plenty of offers to choose from. Ultimately, people choose what makes them happiest, sometimes having to negotiate within relationships so that agreements are reached. The choices made are further determined by what people can afford in terms of both money and time.
Imagine Kamau’s family where the teenagers would like to visit the beach area, grandparents have invited all their children to the country side for Christmas while Mom would simply like to have time to relax and go for dinner with family friends in town. It would certainly require some discussions and concessions so that everyone gets a little bit of what they would like. How would it feel for them if someone came down from town hall and directed them to instead go mountain climbing for five days?
Yet, this is what we often do. We feel aggrieved by someone or an organization; someone feels short-changed by certain actions; another feels ignored or unfairly blamed. Then as we seek to have our interests and concerns addressed, we give up our power to speak out and choose what best suits us. How quickly does someone engage the authorities concerning their neighbor’s loud noise? How often does a team leader refer to one of their team members as non-cooperative? Then we step aside and watch as someone else decides how the matter should be handled.
Mediation is a powerful tool through which you can have your interests and concerns addressed without losing your voice. In mediation, the mediator can play a facilitative role helping you and the other party to engage constructively and explore options to sort out your matter. The advantage of this is that when a decision is reached, it is made by the parties for their own good. The parties are thus more likely honor what they agree on. Mediation can be used when there is active conflict, where one or both parties already feel grossly aggrieved. It also works very well to address signs of conflict. In such cases, one or both parties identify things that could escalate and then work with a mediator to address the issues before they are blown over.
So next time before you bang the table in anger or even after you call your lawyer; think about mediation, propose mediation, try mediation. Stay in control of your matter until a decision is reached.