Love to Fight More than Live?

We’ve probably all had that moment where we realized that the problem that is ticking us off, irritating us, or preoccupying us is not worth it.  You know, the “stolen” parking place, getting cut off in traffic, vanilla instead of chocolate.   However, there are some times to battle for what is right, and the journey may be long(er than you expected).  Sometimes, being right or winning (not in the Charlie Sheen way) becomes the fight rather than what the problem is (or was).

Many mediators see “fighting just to win” or “fighting to make the other side lose” take precedence over the dispute itself – particularly in the divorce setting.

A recent article highlights that phenomena – where resolution is plagued by the parties’ need to win or, perhaps more accurately, the need for the other side to lose (preferably to them).  What is a mediator to do when being able to claim victory (or to claim credit for decimation of the opponent)?

Where the reality of the love of the fight is more important than the value of stopping, resolution may be impossible.  However, and as debated heavily by mediators about its appropriateness, a mediator’s proposal may be warranted.  A mediator’s proposal is the offer, by the mediator to both parties, of a potential resolution that does not originate with either party.  Often such a proposal is coupled with a “double blind” – the mediator will not disclose the parties’ responses unless all parties agree to the proposal.

The reason for a mediator’s proposal (which could be – you agree to flip a coin as to who receives the blender), is that it removes some of the triggers to the love of the fight or desire to win at the other’s expense.  Does a mediator lose his or her neutrality by becoming part of the solution?  Maybe.  Is it effective?  Maybe.  Is it worth a try?  Probably, but as a last resort to impasse.



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