By Janet M Powers
Not everyone makes a good candidate for mediation. For one thing, you need to be willing to sit down with your adversary in the company of a third party to talk through the issues. That means you can’t be so angry that you’re out to “get” the other party or speak in such a way that nothing but nastiness comes out of your mouth. If you are unable to talk in a civil way without constantly interrupting, it won’t work. In a nutshell, angry people don’t make good candidates for mediation.
For another thing, you need to want sincerely to bring the issue to a peaceful conclusion. Perhaps the problem has been going on for a long time, and you feel things need to be settled, finally. Or perhaps something is coming apart – a relationship, a marriage, a business contract – but you don’t want everything to end in pain. If you are someone who cares about the future and other people in this way, you’ll have success with the mediation process.
Finally, you need to be open to new information from the other party and up front with your own. You will have the opportunity to tell your story in detail and to explain how you have been wronged and what you would like to see happen next. At the same time, you will need to be able to listen to what the other party is saying and to modify your demands if unexpected information should surface. If you think you’re the kind of person who is able to listen and help find solutions, you are a good candidate for mediation.
But what if you are the right person to try mediation, but you’re not sure about the other party? Several possibilities are still available through Mediation Services of Adams County. When you dial our help line 717-334-7312, our Intake Coordinator will listen to your concerns. It is then our responsibility to contact the other party to see whether in fact he/she would be willing to try mediation. Contact can be made by telephone, e-mail or letter to invite disputants to the mediation table.
If the other party refuses outright to participate in mediation, you can meet with one of MSAC’s trained conflict coaches to explore possible solutions to the problem. A conflict coach can help you examine the pros and cons of hiring a lawyer, pressing charges with a district magistrate, continuing on with the status quo, or taking other steps to help resolve the issue. Helping you to find a low-cost way forward, one that you are comfortable with, is the goal of the conflict coach.
The important idea to hang on to is that inexpensive help is available on a sliding scale for citizens who have a sincere desire to resolve disputes without anger, hurt or dishonesty. It’s no secret that what makes mediation so special is the people who opt for it!
You can find out more about MSAC on our website: www.mediateadams.org
Janet M. Powers is a member of the MSAC Board and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College.