Find Mediators Near You:

Looking Backward to Go Forward — Mediation in the New Year

PGP Mediation Blog by Phyllis G. Pollack

As my first blog of 2014, I would like to wish each of you a Happy New Year. May it bring you health, happiness, joy and prosperity.

My wish is forward looking as it involves the year to come- 2014. Yet, an Op-Ed piece by Amy Summerville of Miami University posted on Live Science on January 3, 2014, notes that it is just as important to look back in time- to our regrets. Notably, as 2013 marched towards New Year’s Eve and the beginning of 2014, each of us looked back on 2013, thinking about different events and how they could have/should have/ would have turned out differently if we had altered our behavior ever so slightly or had done something differently. Succinctly, Ms. Summerville opines that rather than avoiding our regrets, we should look at and study them. While our initial reaction is probably to avoid dwelling on them, in truth, we should embrace them and examine them as doing so will yield "many unexpected benefits." (Id.)

For example, "regret helps us learn from our mistakes." (Id.) By discussing our regrets, we identify where we think we went wrong. As one example, by our "regret" to the effect that we should have gone to the gym more, we highlight how inactive we were and why we gained weight. (Id.)

Which leads to the second benefit: "regret helps people do better in the future." (Id.) By identifying "… the cause of negative events," we can figure out what steps to take next; that is, what should be our proper course of action. One example given by Ms. Summerville is that as a result of all of the criticism about Beyoncé lip syncing the National Anthem at President Obama’s Inauguration, she "fixed " it by performing a very inspiring a cappella version at the Super Bowl several weeks later. (Id.)

A third benefit is that "talking about regret makes people feel closer to others." Research shows that "… when people want[] to feel closer to others, they were more likely to express regret." (Id.). At the same time, other research shows that "highly -achieving people are more likeable if they make occasional blunders…." (Id.)

So, how does this relate to dispute resolution and mediation? More likely than not, you will have a regret or two about the events or situation that brought about the dispute. By embracing those regrets (rather than denying them), you will be able to move forward by figuring out "how to do better in the future." (Id.). By talking about those regrets and taking action to "correct" the situation, you will be able to actually put the past behind you and look to the future. Simply put, focusing on the past "mistakes" will lead to a resolution and a happy 2014!

Happy New Year!

…Just something to think about!


Phyllis Pollack

Phyllis Pollack with PGP Mediation uses a facilitative, interest-based approach. Her preferred mediation style is facilitative in the belief that the best and most durable resolutions are those achieved by the parties themselves. The parties generally know the business issues and priorities, personalities and obstacles to a successful resolution as… MORE >

Featured Members

View all

Read these next


Have You Considered the Tax Consequences of Your Divorce Agreement?

Most divorcing couples come to the table knowing that division of assets, time with children, and money are all areas central to reaching a settlement.  Others are aware that they...

By Dr. Lynne C. Halem

Politics, Science and Collaboration

This article is from Mr. Alm's keynote presentation at the first ever Joint Fact Finding Conference coordinated by Peter Adler in Hawaii on March 6, 2014.“Politics, Science and Collaboration” Robert...

By Robert Alm

Ireland’s Mediation Adventure – A practitioner flying on “mutinous winds”

In referencing Shakespeare’s The Tempest throughout this piece, we acknowledge that there has always been a “rough magic” to the practice of mediation; something elemental about the ability to bring...

By Sinéad Coneely