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Bringing A Spiritual Approach To My Mediation Work

The silence in the room is disconcerting. Where, if anywhere, is this mediation headed?

Earlier, the complainant had acknowledged the one and only offer made by the respondent. However, now she declared that this offer didn’t need to be made in the mediation, but could be implemented in the workplace, regardless of mediation. I’m feeling pessimistic about the situation.

Since the start, there has been a great deal of venting, especially from the complainant, and now it seems that she is rejecting even the one thing that the parties seem to have agreed upon. It is crucial that these two people be able to go forward in order to work with each other harmoniously, although right now I can’t imagine how this situation can possibly be resolved. As I become aware of how I feel, I know immediately that I have to change my outlook.

Prior to the mediation, as with all my mediations, I had thought about this case and these individuals’ interest in and ability to come to mutual understanding. I knew that, on a deeper level, they had the capacity for the same intelligence, thoughtfulness, understanding, and care that all of us share. I had gone into the mediation with the expectation that not only could we listen to each other, but that we were all receptive to hearing and understanding whatever we needed to know in order for this to be a successful event. I held to the thought that beneath the divisions or strife between these parties, they desired the same thing – that is, peace and resolution. Over lunch, before the mediation, I had shared some of these thoughts with my co-mediator.

Now we are at this juncture in the mediation where we seem to be stuck, and I am feeling quite abject about the situation. I turn inward, and ask myself what is missing here, and what do I need to know. Instantly, the word “Love” comes into my thought, and rather amusingly, with a heart shape surrounding it! Yes, Love is present: we, the mediators are expressing love through our efforts to help these parties and the parties are expressing love by being here voluntarily because they really want to improve their relationship with each other as well their working situation. The sense of love that is in the room can prevail over any sense of discouragement, limitation or human ego.

I say nothing, as that seems the best course of action, and the other mediator also remains silent. The silence prevails for a few minutes, everyone seeming pensive. After that, the claimant who, up to that point, had sat back in her chair, and often had one hand near her mouth, begins to lean forward. She quietly, gently states that she feels that both parties understand each other better, that she thinks they can work out their relationship with each other and is hopeful that they will move forward productively. Neither party wants a more concrete agreement, which might outline steps each of them would take, as they prefer to share this general sense of mutual understanding and the desire to work with each other more constructively and effectively.

Until I follow up on this case, I continue to hold to the knowledge that both parties are fully empowered to deal with their situation effectively. They have the ability to be considerate and understanding of each other’s unique personalities, working styles and needs. Individually and together they can grow in their expression of the strengths that are naturally and rightfully theirs. In time, other possible solutions may emerge. When I followed up on this case I learned that these parties did find a way to work with each other. Their roles or assignments had changed somewhat, since the time of the mediation, and that also helped the situation.

As a mediator, working from a spiritual basis, I try to set aside preconceptions about personalities, nationalities, age, gender and all the various labels that are so easy to place on people. I also try to set aside any sense of personal ego. It is not I who have any special ability or power to bring any conflict to a satisfactory resolution. I need to listen to the inner voice of Love that guides my thought to the ideas and words that are needed and appropriate at any particular time. I don’t always find it easy to hold to the “high road,” but it is part of my preparation for mediations, and what I try to keep in mind about the parties with whom I’m meeting, as well as any co-mediators with whom I may be working.

I am grateful that I can turn to and rely on the universal source of the ideas we need, and the inspiration that points me in the direction of what is right and ethical at any point in a mediation. Being aware of this inner guide, my job as a mediator is made easier and more pleasant and I feel capable and confident.


Elisabeth Seaman

Elisabeth Seaman, Learn2Resolve Mediated over 600 cases for public and private institutions, community programs and for families and individuals   Bilingual in Spanish and English.    Honored for her contributions to the field of mediation by San Mateo County and the California State Legislature.   Partner in the mediation firm,… MORE >

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