mediation is different, just like every family is different. Different personalities and different ways of perceiving solutions to problems bring different results. And with all that differing should mediators drop their pearls of wisdom and share past experiences?
Let’s face it, we all see solutions to problems based on our past experiences. Mediators are no different. We think, “Oh, I remember I had a mediation with a very similar set of circumstances”. So, should we share our pearls of wisdom? Are we trying to help our clients consider alternative ideas or, as a professional, do our clients see our suggestion as an opinion or worse…a professional opinion to be relied on? Are we being helpful, or are our suggested considerations considered judgement? Does it take away our impartiality, as neutral professionals, in the client’s eyes?
As a mediator, I often think that the biggest decision I have to make in a day is what to wear or what flavour of tea to drink with my morning meal. My clients do the heavy lifting as they attempt to problem solve their discourse. How they want to solve their issues is guided by me but the weight of the decision is on their shoulders. Mediators don’t make decisions for their clients. We can tell them the lay of the land which often comes in the form of legal information. (But we don’t give them legal advice.)
I often tell my clients that I won’t work harder than they do. At the end of the day, they are the ones who have to live the life they decide on. Not me. So, when I see a potential solution, do I share? What if one party thinks it benefits the other spouse? What if my credibility goes out the window? Have I given my clients the service that they want if I try to problem solve their issues? Do I share my pearls of wisdom?