The Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA) recently held its annual conference (virtually). The closing plenary remarks were delivered by Randy Lowry- the first president and a founding member of SCMA. The theme of the conference was ‘the magic of mediation” or how a few hours of mediation can work magic to resolve a dispute that has been ongoing for years
At the end of his remarks, Mr. Lowery (who relocated to Nashville many years ago to become President of Lipscomb University) quoted some lyrics from a very old (1991) country music song by Diamond Rio entitled “Meet Me in the Middle:
It was seven hundred fenceposts from your place to ours
Neither one of us was old enough to drive a car
Sometimes it was raining, sometimes it would shine
We wore out that gravel road between your house and mine
I’d start walking your way
You’d start walking mine
We’d meet in the middle
‘Neath that old Georgia pine
We’d gain a lot of ground
‘Cause we’d both give a little
And their ain’t no road to long
When you meet in the middle
The chorus epitomizes what mediation is all about: compromise. Each party actually gains quite a lot by giving up a little and meeting somewhere in the middle: resolving the conflict! It is not a zero sum – I win, you lose- game but rather one in which every person’s needs and interests are considered which then leads to adjustments in each party’s perspective. With the change in perspectives (The other party may just have a point!), comes a change in demands and offers so that each party gives a little, gains a lot and ends up meeting in the middle… and resolves the conflict!
The world is full of very complex matters in and out of litigation. The parties attend mediation thinking that their dispute is very convoluted and will take hours upon hours to unravel and resolve. (If that is even possible!) But, in reality, every dispute is like the chorus to this song. Both parties simply need to be willing to listen to what the other has to say with an open mind (i.e., walk towards each other). Each side will make some points but also will lose on some; that is, gain some ground but also give up a little. The mediator will work her magic so that the parties will, indeed, meet in the middle.
… Just something to think about.
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