Michael Lodge, NCPM, CRTP: As a mediator you have people come before you and the stories that are told and the arguments made, tells you what kind of people they may be. Now, I know as a mediator I should not make assumptions, but in the back of my mind, or gut feeling, I can usually tell within the first five minutes. I should not assume, I know. Please no lectures.
However, I had two business partners contact me back in 2021 to mediate a big dispute they were having. Neither one could stand the other one. When they first met with me in joint session there was something wrong that I could not put my fingers on it. Both individuals seemed angry in how they looked, how they moved, and spoke to each other. It was like they wanted to put curses on each other, and their words were formed to do harm to the other person. It went back and forth. Doing the mediation together just was not working, so I closed the mediation session to do separate sessions with each one. I got them to put offers on the table, one agreed, then the other one kept putting more stuff on the table just to get back at the other individual.
The individual sessions were working but it what that deep hate and anger that created a big wall. Now I said I should not make assumptions, but I did. There was something more at play then just t. angry people. The name of their business was a name from Satanism. So, I looked up their web site and found logos and other signs of witchcraft. Even the names of the drinks were names you would find in a scary movie. So, my assumption was that the harsh words and hate came from a deeper place.
In the end, one of the partners was willing to settle and move on, the other partner said no. Mediation done – no conclusion. From the beginning I had a feeling this was not going to settle because something else was at play. That is why I love doing business mediation because the story is always new, different personalities, and in the end - get an agreement in place.
Forget about assumptions, put them to the side, and just get the job done. Come to think of it, maybe they were looking for a medium, not a mediator?
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Michael Lodge is a Nationally Certified Professional Mediator specializing in business disputes, as well as family conflicts. He has written three books and hosts an international podcast on IHeartRadio and other podcast media stations.