Emotional and Psychological Dimensions

Leo Cardenas

Former CRS Mediator, Denver Office

[Full Interview]


How would you determine what your role would be in any case? Did the parties involved shape your role or did you already come in and say, "I am conciliator," or, "I am mediator," or, "I am regional director?"


I think it's a combination of everything that's in the scene, including its history, its leadership, the timing of it, the type of response, and resources. Clearly, when a dispute has occurred publicly and words have been exchanged, people are not talking to each other. People already feel that they are in a corner and that they're fighting back, so they're almost like a caged animal. They're clawing rather than listening or reasoning. So we come in and begin to talk to them about how they got inside that cage in the first place, and how we can get them out of there. Then the venting happens. They're venting with us and against us. If we're meeting with a Hispanic group, and they're angry, it doesn't matter to them that I'm a Hispanic. But sometimes I'm able to use certain words and phrases and I'll intermix English and Spanish. This will sometimes bring down the tensions and bring some humor to the situation. So they'll vent all of this stuff in various emotions, and we want them to do that. Once they go through that process, then we can begin to talk. "Well, what type of issues do you have?" And before you know it, "Here. Here's this paper, here's this letter, here's a history. Remember I was talking about this and that?" And the venting is out of the picture and they begin to think in a different way, begin to put it in a different perspective. All we've done is sit down and listen and hopefully asked the right questions to begin to move. The eventual question is, "How can I help you? If I go and meet with the school superintendent, what can I tell them?"