What we see is not what we see, but what we are.

Fernando Pessoa, The Book of Disquiet

Mediation as a general attitude

I am convinced of the positive power of talking things over. But – particularly when tensions arise – what are the elements that make for a good discussion?

It was when working as a project manager in the field of social work that I first realized how much the success of a project depends on communication amongst those involved. As a result I engaged in an intensive study of communication and personality development.

It has often been a source of personal distress to me to find human suffering being caused by people failing to talk purely because they don’t know how to go about it properly.

So many opportunities for reconciliation and rapprochement are missed because the parties are afraid of conflict. Typically, they think that facing up to conflicts is necessarily painful or bound to end in a 'catastrophe'. Or they let themselves be over-governed by their emotions and act in a destructive manner. Again and again, opportunities to talk things over are wasted.

I am convinced that in our time – for all of us – mediative behaviour is of central importance. When we are faced by challenging situations, it helps to be aware of certain basic rules and to put them into practice, at first under supervision and then on one’s own. In my experience, this can lead to a feeling of great relief on the part of those concerned in the conflict.

In some specific cases it is only possible for talking to restart if a professional third party is involved.

When they take place under these new conditions, these talks and encounters can be very enriching – for the parties involved in the conflict but also for myself as mediator.

As time passes, this knowledge and experience of fruitful communication engenders a whole attitude and transforms our relationships for the better.