A character in the movie, How Do You Know? declares that what he’s learned in 20 years boils down to this: “Life is about finding out what you want and how to ask for it.”
That about sums up what most people learn in mediation. They are trying to discover what they [really] want and how to ask for it [so they can get it and move on].
For instance, an out-of-town daughter, Janna, is furious at her Uncle Peter, who lives near her mom. When she visits every two or three months she sees Mom deteriorating, and she holds her uncle accountable. Janna wants to replace Peter as holder of her mother’s medical power of attorney.
At least, that’s what she thinks she wants. But what Janna really wants is to come in out of the dark. She wants to know what’s going on. She wants an opportunity to demonstrate her love for mom. She wants to be consulted when major medical decisions about mom must be made. At bottom, she wants to be assured that mom is receiving excellent care. And she’d like to be prepared if bad news is on the horizon.
If Janna can separate the person (Uncle Peter) from the problem (lack of information and feeling excluded) she will be able to ask for what she wants – voice & access – without a hint of blame. Her tone will change. And, since Uncle Peter doesn’t have to defend himself, the chances are overwhelming that he’ll agree.
We all have times when we’re at a loss to know what we want or how to ask for it. We only know the status quo isn’t working. Sometimes another person – a coach or mediator – or even a good friend – can help.
- He or she asks open questions;
- Offers a reality check of proposed solutions;
- Walks with you past what you think you want to discover your deepest desire; and
- Helps you practice how to ask for it.
Beyond Dispute Associates
© Carolyn Parr and Beyond Dispute Associates, 2014. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Carolyn Parr and Beyond Dispute Associates with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.
I do not know what I want, but now I know enough to ask that question. Odd! I have taken many ADR courses from excellent instructors, but, separation from my wife has been the toughest problem I have ever faced.
Feelings get in the way of these processes.
We have been to mediation (?) and it did not go well. (Truthfully, we went to a lawyer, trained as a lawyer who advertises as a Mediator. She has continued to act like a lawyer, she confronts ever problem that can prolong billing and settles nothing!)
What I really want is peace of mind, that I have experienced when living apart from my spouse.
My wife needs conflict in her life, that is just how she is ‘wired’. She is focusing on money and things.
I also like Carolyn’s remarks and I also would like to thank her for them. I completely agree with her account of what really MAY happen in mediation.
Apparently you are on the way to know what you really want or you already know it (peace of mind). Great. I would only suggest that when you speak about your wife please take into consideration that maybe she does not yet what she really wants or she did not find appropriate conitions that would allow her to express her needs in a way that would be acceptable for you. She might – as you are writing – need a conflict in her life or money pr thongs/goods, but would it be also possible that while asking for all those things she expresses her need for safety, security, or maybe she expresses grief or other difficult emotion? I do not know of course, only want to turn your attention to the fact that in mediation (or in any “fixing life accident” process) both parties do not necessarily go hand in hand along the process of getting more clarity about his/her needs. And that we constantly interpret other people’s behavior, especially when it hurts us.
My very best greetings from Warsaw, Poland!
And sorry if I misinterpreted your words.