This Great Graphic Will Have Mediation Parties Prepared for Success

This great graphic will have mediation parties prepared for success!

Understanding what we can and cannot change.

It is my practice to meet with mediation parties separately prior to a mediation session.  I have found that a discussion of what individuals have control over or what they don’t, is one of the best determining factors of a successful mediation.  Over the years and through experimenting with various tools, I have landed on a simple graphic to help me make this point.

“How a system works”

There are many fields of study now which look at how we humans operate in groups or systems.  A system is characterized by a group of parts that interact to form a coherent whole. The interactions between individuals can be exemplified visually using a picture of a mechanical system of gears. (See graphic)

This graphic can represent a family system or a workplace system, any group of individuals who interact on a regular basis.  Individuals within the group are represented by the gears in the picture.  The interlocking teeth of the gears represent interactions among the individuals.  The mediation party is represented by one of the gears – I either pick one and circle it for them or let them pick one they resonate with, to represent themselves.

Typical questions to ask regarding the chosen example are: What is the likelihood that the gear of choice can influence the other gears in the system?  Can this one change that one?  Can this person change that person’s behavior?

Parties recognize that changing another gears movement (the other party’s behavior) is not possible unless… (Aha! Moment)… the behavior of the chosen gear (themselves) is altered.  When the gear representing the client speeds up or slows down, it has, by the very nature of how gears operate, an effect on the others.  Changing one’s own behavior, or their response to a situation can have a profound effect on the outcome.

Parties can spend a lifetime looking to other workmates or family members to change when their real power lies in their own response to others.  Victor Frankl, author of “Man’s Search for Meaning,” is summarized by Stephen Covey as saying “Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom”.

My experience over time, sharing this graphic with parties prior to mediation, has been quite remarkable.   Once clients understand the concept, they can then ask themselves “what has been my responsibility in this conflict and how are my words or actions able to influence the outcome I desire?”

                        author

Sue Miglino

Sue Ann Miglino has been an employee and a mediator at the Dispute Resolution Center of Kitsap County (DRC) for the last 12 years. She is the Youth Services and Restorative Practices Coordinator there. Sue has a passion for Restorative work, and convenes Restorative Justice Circles with youth and adults… MORE >

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