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Pillars of Life for Successful Interactions

There are many aspects to build and maintain healthy professional and personal relationships. I have devoted my life interactions to a specific set of five aspects which I refer to as my pillars of life. As I said there are many that could be chosen but I honed in on these because they are very relevant to our everyday lives and interactions as mediators, facilitators, supervisor/subordinate relationships, and our personal interactions with loved ones. So, now that I have hopefully stimulated your curiosity let me share those pillars with you. They are as follows and in this specific order: Transparency, Trust, Respect, Communication, and Commitment (TTRCC). I have come to learn that these pillars are dependent upon each other and serve as building blocks for the others. If any of the pillars diminish or are non-existent in the relationship/interaction then the other pillars can crumble and ultimately have an adverse impact on the dynamics of the interactions and relationship.

Here is a brief description of each pillar according to Webster’s Dictionary:

Transparency – The quality or state of being transparent- an honest way of doing things that allows other people to know exactly what you are doing

Trust – A belief that someone or something is reliable, good, honest, effective, etc.
– An organization that results from the creation of a trust

In regard to trust I would ask you, do your peers, subordinates, or superiors perceive you as trustworthy and honest? How do you perceive them? Trust is a characteristic that builds respect and loyalty, as well as a supportive and conducive work environment. Conversely, distrust increases tension and negative traits, which often times destroys the cohesiveness of the team concept and ultimately productivity.

Respect – A feeling or understanding that someone or something is important, serious, etc., and should be treated in an appropriate way

Communication – The act or process of using words, sounds, signs, or behaviors to express or exchange information or to express your ideas, thoughts, feelings, etc., to someone else
– A process by which information is exchanged between individuals through a common system of symbols, signs, or behavior

Commitment – A promise to do or give something
– A promise to be loyal to someone or something
– The attitude of someone who works very hard to do or support something

So, you may ask how these pertain to your role as a mediator or in any other capacity. I would submit after 18 years of mediating that I have utilized these pillars to establish my rapport and relationship with those I interact with and the results have proven very positive for the most part. Keeping in mind sometimes no matter how hard we try that we can’t always satisfy everyone. As long as you know in your mind and heart that you truly gave 100% to whatever endeavor you are taking on that is what matters.

These concepts apply whether you are a mediator/facilitator or in a supervisor/subordinate relationship and it even transfers over into our personal lives with our loved ones. I guarantee you if any of those pillars are not an everyday part of your interactions you are destined to fail at your relationship and interactions and ultimately your mission, relationship, or task will suffer.

Two sides of the coin directly correlate with these pillars of life. As a mediator if these pillars are not an everyday part of your repertoire it may be difficult to establish an appropriate rapport with the parties during a mediation session. It would be difficult to appear neutral if you can’t show a genuine level of sincerity in your dialogue if you are not transparent with all parties. This plays right into the trust factor, if there is no trust in you as the mediator, the process will not work. Additionally, that can lead into a lack of respect towards you as the mediator, but also an adverse feeling towards the mediation process as a whole and we know how hard it can be to gain trust and respect in dealing with those who feel they have been wronged in some way. The next block to crumble would be the lack of effective communication and open dialogue during the mediation process and as you can imagine without effective communication it would be difficult to achieve meaningful and positive results. Lastly, it would be challenging to obtain commitment and buy-in from all participants. It is sort of like a domino effect and through an absence of effective utilization of these pillars it would hinder the establishment of an effective relationship or encounter and the desired results may not be achieved. The pillars will surely crumble if you can’t find a way to master and incorporate them into your daily interactions. This would also potentially impact the participant’s perception of your ability to remain neutral during the mediation process.

However, through the use of effective implementation of the TTRCC pillars it can aide those you are attempting to help by ultimately generating collaboration and synergy during the mediation process and far beyond the session or the interaction between individuals. So give some consideration to the implementation of these pillars and ask yourself as a mediator or whatever other capacity you interact with people, what if any pillars for successful communications, interactions and relationships do you utilize to foster positive interactions?




Steven Goldman

Mr. Steven C. Goldman is currently a Department of Veterans Affairs Certified Mediator based in Saint Petersburg, Florida.   In this position, he mediates internal VA employee complaints of unlawful discrimination and harassment claims to include workplace and interpersonal issues as well as provides advice and ADR services to internal and… MORE >

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