Keeping mediators safe. What do I mean by that that exactly? Well, anybody who has ever worked with the public for any length of time will know how difficult it can sometimes be. Imagine the life of your average shop worker just before Christmas. To make it worse, imagine they’re working the late evening tills. Mr or Mrs “I want it now, why isn’t it available?” is standing there, shouting and doing their best to blame the assistant for their own failure to plan their Christmas shopping in advance of Christmas eve. As the event unfolds it becomes clear that in the mind of the frustrated shopper, Mark and Spencer should have KNOWN the new Ipsy Dipsy doll would be so popular and have made appropriate arrangements. In fact, the assistant should probably have written to head office MONTHS AGO to make sure the chief purchasers ordered enough in! To anybody who has ever worked a till at Christmas, this is unfortunately, an all too familiar scene.
In mediation, mediators often have similar experiences. Clients become frightened that there isn’t enough money to fund two lifestyles out of a single savings account. Spouses get upset that even though they are no longer going to be living with their ex, that there are still ongoing financial obligations that they simply don’t want to pay. People feel betrayed that the person now sitting across the table from them, at some point over the last several months, fell out of love with them despite the whispered promises of days past. They feel all these feelings, and they just don’t have anybody to take them out on.
Unfortunately, it is the person who is trying to help them that these clients often take their fear, upset and hurt out on — and sometimes mediators get a bit of a kicking as a result. Keeping mediators safe simply means that mediators need to be aware of the drip drip effect of dealing with these situations. Shop workers are lucky enough to get a reprieve at the end of January (just after “returns” season ends), but mediators are managing conflict like this year-round. As a Family Mediation Council Accredited Mediator I am proud of the work I do, and the help I provide to my clients. On average I save my clients £15,000 each in legal fees and months of anguish over going to court. I am proud to say that I manage these conflicts on a daily basis but importantly I am not so proud (or arrogant) as to pretend that I don’t have to keep myself safe at the same time.
Debriefing with colleagues, getting a good night’s sleep, taking time during the day to step away from the computer, and ensuring that my professional training and boundaries are up to snuff at all times is imperative. If you would like more information about keeping mediators safe, please feel free to give me a call at New Landscape Mediation on 01279 211 657