Comments: Apology in Mediation: Sorry To Say, It’s Much Overrated

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André , Montréal area QC   11/01/05
Apology in mediation
Very interesting and educational article. André Racine (Canada)

GAry Furlong, Toronto On   10/05/05
I often help parties separate their intention (which is always good) from the impact of their actions (which often has caused pain to the other party). By validating the intention, people are much more likely to apologize for the impact. For example, from a recent mediation, "We realize now that you were trying to get the company's attention on an important issue, and we should have listen at the time. That was our fault. Threatening your supervisor was not the way to do it, and we need to hear that you understand that." "I do understant that, and losing my temper was inappropriate, I see that. I need to know that when I have an issue, you'll listen." "In the future, here's the way it should be handled....." In this are two apologies, along with holding firm on a change in behaviour. Both of these separate intention from impact, and are seen as forms of apology. Effective one's, too.

Rick , Windsor On     09/30/05
Use of Apologies in Mediation
I'd like to echo the previous comments made and add that in mediation, we pride outselves on the uniqueness of the process and to a degree, on each case that is mediated. While the power or positive effect of an apology in a civil context might be minimal, I would counter that it is has a very powerful influence in workplace or harassment type mediations. Quite often, one of the parties involved is looking for an opportunity to articulate their frustrations and demonstrate the effect the undesirable behavior in question has had on them. Equal to that is the opportunity to for the opther party to acknowledge and make an apology for their conduct, which if heartfelt, resonates with the party lodging the complaint and begins to provide them with the form of resolution they were seeking to curtail the actions they experiences and were harmed by. Every case has it's own particular personality and possibility for resolution. To not explore every possible opportunity or remedy is a disservice to the parties involved preventing them from obtaining and benefiting from this specific type of resolution that may work for some, and not for others.

Maureen  Gauci, Ottawa ON   09/15/05
Obviously, the context in which one mediates dictates the resolution and creates opportunities for reparation. As a mediator in human rights and workplace conflict, apologies often happen spontaneously at the table and are followed up by heartfelt written apologies. Since an apology must be freely given, sincere, and without ulterior motive, they cannot be asked for nor forced. I am happy to report we regularly experience apologies which would touch the heart of even the most hardened litigator. In my experience apologies never replace or diminish financial compensation however, they often help parties with putting an end to the matter. Never underestimate the power of an apology. I think it behooves us all as mediators to create a climate of empathy and no matter what the conflict or issue, and maybe, just maybe, apologies will find a way to sneak into your process. Build it, they will come.

Alan Limbury, Sydney, Australia     09/15/05
I'd like to add 2 of my own experiences as mediator with apologies from a disputant:(1)'When I came in here today I thought this was all about money but now I realize that I betrayed you and I'm sorry' [Case settled within the next 2 minutes](2)Physically intimidating shopping centre manager standing and wagging finger over seated, frail tenant (both male): (loud)'I'm going to give you an apology. This is my apology. There, I've apologised', [walks round to shake hands, both end up in a hug, case settled]!!! So they do happen and they do work but they are few and far between. I don't agree they are overrated but I find the 'sorry you're upset' kind inflame more than they assuage. Good article.