The “natural born citizen” challenged everything from the authority of the court, to proper service, to some of the most fundamental rules of law by which we conduct business and litigation.
My service as a volunteer mediator can be quite interesting. My paid work includes lawyers who prefer to put their clients in separate rooms. That’s much more predictable than sitting together with two unrepresented people in conflict. My volunteer work can feel like a high-wire act without a net, which provides a fun challenge.
This time, I emphasized more than usual that I do not decide legal issues (such as overturning 200 years of legal precedent). The parties would need to skip mediation if they wanted judgments. Today, the only person to convince of their righteousness was each other, not me.
Eventually, the natural born citizen agreed to try talking with the corporate fabrication.
Then, I went about the process of facilitating a sharing of the true problems and issues. As I’ve said before, a person who is not “frequent flyer” in mediation needs an emotional release before he or she is prepared to sign a legal release. People who feel victimized need to let it out: business owners, employees, patients . . . everyone. Unless a person has some mental disease, we all have the same basic needs.
Once each side had a chance to air her feelings and clarify facts, I separated them for an even more open venting and exploration of options, strengths and weaknesses. Then, back in the same room, they worked fairly and efficiently toward agreement.
Perhaps my greatest satisfaction is to see positive change in people. Adversaries walk in ready to explode like a sausage on a grill. Sometimes, they leave like a satisfied guest who finished their beers, sausage and potato salad, thinking the world is okay, at least for today.
All of us finished this mediation feeling like the process worked well.
Copyright 2014 by Jeff Merrick, Merrick Mediation