See our article in the January Desert Leaf. WM 2/5/08
In times of conflict and trouble, one of the first qualities that we lose is our sense of humor.
Humor, injected into mediation in an appropriate way, can soften all of these attitudes and help the parties move forward. I know a mediator who, during the opening phase will sometimes note that the bathrooms are down the hall to the left, “but no one is allowed to go there until we have reached resolution.” This unexpected, and absurd, statement is most always appreciated by the parties as an effort to lighten the moment. It serves to ease tensions a little, brings on some smiles, and in a way reinforces the commitment to actually work hard toward finding a resolution. It underscores in a humorous way the “why” everyone has come to the table.
A good mediator is to be able to recognize when and how to inject humor, in a respectful way, into the process. This is not always easy, as it involves taking a risk that the humor won’t be well accepted. But mediating well is a process of risk taking, as Kenneth Close notes in “Mediating Dangerously.” Used with care and respect, humor can be a powerful tool in the mediator’s kit. And sometimes the participants in the process will rise to the occasion and inject their own healing humorous comments. Below is a cartoon I like about mediation and a joke about mediators. Do you have a cartoon, joke or story you would like to share? As always, post a comment with us. There are instructions in our first blog which tells you how. WM 2/5/08
How many mediators does it take to change a lightbulb?
Well, let’s unpack that shall we?
First of all, let’s be clear that it isn’t the mediator’s function to change the lightbulb.
The mediator will explore with the lightbulb how it feels about the on and off nature of its job, its unhappiness at always having to work nights, and its relationships with the other parties, including the new lightbulbs that it feels are a threat to its position.
The mediator will talk to the new lightbulbs, reframing and normalizing their observation that the principal lightbulb is completely out of its box, and identifying that their real issue is that being picked on one at a time constantly undermines their team spirit.
The darkness seems quite hostile to all the lightbulbs and keeps telling them to go and unscrew themselves. The mediator will allow it to vent its anger and express its distress at how it always feels unwanted.
The mediator will help guide the darkness and the lightbulbs, both new and mature, to a solution reflecting their new understanding of each other. Bright sparks will realise that you’ll have to be left in the dark now because the final outcome is confidential.
I have volunteered to work as a mediator for the Red Cross Disaster Relief program. You can find out more about the Southern Arizona Chapter of the Red Cross at http://www.redcrossarizona.org/site/PageServer. I agree with the Red Cross’ Fundamental Principles of Humanity, Impartiality, Neutrality, Independence Services, Unity, and Universality and its Core Values of Accountability, Collaboration, Commitment, Results, Trustworthiness, and Humanitarianism. Becoming a volunteer requires a great deal of training. I have taken courses entitled Fundamentals of Staff Services, Fulfilling Our Mission: Translating Your Compassion into Community Action, Mass Care Overview, Introduction to Disaster Services, New Paid & Vol. Staff Orientation, Client Casework: Providing Emergency Assistance and will be taking Collaborating to Ensure Effective Service Delivery. What has been interesting is how many of the skills taught by the Red Cross are similar to those used by mediators. In fact the skills are common sense and social skills we should all use. Some of the skills include: welcome the person warmly, treat the person with courtesy; active listening which enables you to express in your own words what the client is saying; avoiding the listening challenges of not paying attention, interrupting, hearing what is expected; practicing good listening skills such as focusing on the person, paying attention to non-verbal language, asking questions that clarify what the person is saying; and finally empathy. Volunteering for the Red Cross is a rewarding experience and I highly recommend it. WM 2/4/08
It was probably no surprise that I wanted to do my own television show. I can’t remember my family not having a television set but I remember us purchasing our first set. I watched Hopalong Cassidy and matured to watching Have Gun Will Travel. For reasons I don’t remember, I started calling myself Lucky. I even was in the Peanut Gallery of the Howdy Doody Show. So it came as now surprise when I read about Access Tucson http://www.accesstucson.org/ and how you could do your own public access television show that I decided to do a television program. I also was interest in how the media could change the culture of divorce and I liked playing with electronic equipment. Doing a television show seemed to include many of my interests. Thus was born Divorce TV, a program dedicated to providing you information about divorce so you can make knowledgeable decisions about divorce. We are starting to tape the show in April and hope it will air in May. If you want more information about the show, you can go to its website at http://divorcetvaz.googlepages.com/ or its blog at http://divorcetvaz.blogspot.com/
If you get Cox or Comcast cable you can view the show on the pubic access channels. If you don’t get cable you can view the show on your computer at http://www.accesstucson.org/ They may also have it On Demand. If you want more information about the show or want me to email you when and where the show is on, you can email me at DivorceTVAZ@gmail.com As always, we welcome your comments. In particular, we are interested in what you would like to see on Divorce TV and questions you would like us to answer on the air. You can always post a comment on this blog by clicking on comments at the end of the posted blog and follow the instructions in the window that opens up. We look forward to hearing from you. WM 2/3/08
One of the interesting features of our blog is the ability to do polling. For fun and since it is the presidential season, I have asked in our poll which of the current presidential candidates you would like as your divorce attorney or mediator. Try the poll at the bottom right. Let us know if you have any questions you would like us to poll. WM 1/31/08
The nature of a divorce s is determined first by the process a person chooses. Is it an adversary divorce, a collaborative divorce or a mediated divorce? The nature of a divorce is next determined by the divorce professional the person chooses. One of the first questions I ask a client is who is representing his or her spouse. It tells me a lot about how the case is going to proceed. Is the person a “shark” who says your spouse is the enemy? Is the person a reasonable person who wants the person to be able to have a better life? Is the person interested in the biggest possible fee or helping the person get thru the divorce with the least possible pain? Is the person interested in how the divorce affects children? But how does a person tell the type of divorce professional the person is choosing. People usually ask friends for a referral. This does not always work because people have different needs and perceptions. I have always wondered if you can tell a book by its cover, can you tell a divorce professional by the car he or she drives? My simple observation is more adversarial divorce professionals drive a BMW or a Mercedes and more reasonable divorce professionals drive a Volvo or Saab. There are many more cars. What is your experience? What do you think? Let us know by posting a comment by clicking on comments at the end of this blog. WM 1/31/08