Mothers: the Original Mediators
It’s been a long time since people confused mediation with meditation, but I’m still frequently asked “what’s a mediator?”
The answer is as simple as the process is deep.
A mediator is someone who understands how conflicts erupt into disputes, why people have so much trouble addressing them, and how to negotiate a resolution that serves both parties’ interests well enough to solve the problem or close the deal.
This process should sound familiar to every mother in the land. Mothers may, in fact, be the original mediators, the Old Gangsters of dispute resolution.
When I was teaching dispute resolution to high school students last week in connection with the launch of my book Success as a Mediator for Dummies, it occurred to me for the first time that every mother is a mediator.
Mothers are the OG’s of Dispute Resolution
Every day, every mother in the world helps explain a child’s bad mood to a sibling, breaks up a fight between a sister and a brother over the scarce resource of the last piece of cake, negotiates the international boundaries between Susie’s closet and her younger sister’s wardrobe, and mediates a long-simmering set of resentments between her sister’s husband and her own father.
This thought occurred to me when a teacher asked me to help mediate a mock dispute between two of her Freshman English students. Those 14-year old’s picked up the skill of asking open-ended questions to diagnose the cause of the faux dispute way faster than their teacher.
When she asked me why, I said, “beginner’s mind. You’re making assumptions about what caused the problem because you’ve got a heck of a lot of experience with similar fights between similar kids. Your students know they don’t know, so it’s easier for them to ask who, what, when, where, how and why.”
She smiled ruefully and nodded knowingly. And that’s the moment I realized all mothers are mediators who could use the strategies and tactics contained in my new mediation book even though it’s written for people who make a living doing what moms have always done.