Your Judgment May be Impairing You

EyeOnConflict Blog by Lee Jay Berman

Judgment is a tool that actually impairs a mediator. While it’s human nature to judge people as dangerous or not, the notion of good or bad is one that only makes us feel superior in our ability to pass judgment on them. As the quote says, it does nothing for us.
As mediators, listening to people tell their stories, the trained human response is to decide which story we believe, or which seems right, or more credible. The mediator’s job, in contrast to those things is to understand. To understand that the story we’ve just heard is that person’s offering, their truth. And what they need from us is to understand it and to honor it as such. We don’t have to agree with it, or validate it, or ratify it, we simply need to accept it as their truth, and make sure they understand that we have done so.
The challenge to one being a really complete mediator is the ability to hold two separate truths simultaneously. Can you? Can you hear two stories that sound 180 degrees different and hold them both, and still be of value to the story-tellers in helping them reach an agreement that allows them to put the dispute behind them without scratching the itch of needing to know who is right? Or whose truth is closest to the real truth? If so, then you may be cut out to be a mediator. If not, you may just need more practice at suspending judgment and really, deeply listening to people, while quieting the chatter in your mind that’s busy judging. If you can learn to do that, then you will see the world in a different light. That is the light of the mediator.

                        author

Lee Jay Berman

Lee Jay Berman is a mediator based in Los Angeles. He founded the American Institute of Mediation in 2009, after serving as Director of Pepperdine's flagship Mediating the Litigated Case program from 2002-2009.  MORE >

Featured Mediators

ad
View all

Read these next

Category

Email Management and Etiquette

Remember your first typing class (for those of you who had the opportunity). There was keyboarding to learn but there was almost as much protocol for typed communications that was...

By James Melamed, J.D., John Helie
Category

UN Insolvency Work Finds Help with Mediation

CPR Speaks BlogThe United Nations Commission on International Trade Law adopted a simplified insolvency regime that recommends mediation to resolve disputes between financial sector creditors and small debtors during its 54th Session. ...

By Mylene Chan
Category

When People Interrupt

The problem we saw in the recent presidential debate is familiar to any mediator: How do you keep angry people from interrupting each other? Chris Wallace demonstrated clearly tonight that...

By Ronald S. Kraybill

Find a Mediator

X
X
X