Former CRS Mediator, Dallas Office; Private Mediator and Trainer
Did you ever have to help one side understand the other side's views?
Probably always. I think a party's first inclination was, "They don't understand us, and they're wrong." Again, I think one of the critical elements of mediation is that there's got to be an acknowledgment of the legitimacy of the other party's interest. You don't have to say you agree with it, you may not even think it's worthy, but you've got to agree they've got a legitimate right to have that position or that interest. The community never believed that the establishment honored their interest or even understood them. In fact, they were intentionally trying to undermine their interest. That was the community's perception and sometimes it was true, but sometimes it wasn't. The establishment s position was, "We haven't done anything wrong. Those are just a few troublemakers. You're just going to cause more trouble by being here." It was that dance of seeing if I could get them to at least say, "That's not true, we didn't do that, but if they believe we did it, I see why they're so angry." To me that legitimizes the interest.
That's when you're willing to go to the table?