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Arbitration & Mediation: Settle It Now Negotiation Blog
Mediator Road Rage: A Confessional
By Victoria Pynchon
As a conflict resolver, I, like Google, have pledged to do no evil.
Still. I have been known to lose my temper – more so in response to trivialities – being cut off on in traffic by someone displaying the universal hand gesture of disrespect – than to greater and more enduring injustices.
When I first feel 'road rage' begin rise up in me, I could and should do any number of things – excuse myself to take a walk around the block, get a glass of water, give myself three minutes of silence in which to meditate and remind myself of my own values.
Alas, I am human and I fail.
I immediately regret expressions of intemperance. The cost is always high in damaged self-respect and harm done to relationships and reputation.
According to self-described 'philosopher and photographer' Richard Garlikov, the disproportionate response to disrespect displayed when we lose our tempers is more an attempt to punish or remedy the disrespect itself than the harm or loss we've suffered.
The Mediator's Terrible Awful
Several years ago, counsel for two defendants in a civil lawsuit arrived for the mediation of their dispute nearly an hour late. When plaintiff's counsel called (45 minutes after the start time) to ask where defense counsel was (on a speaker phone in my presence) defense counsel shouted that she didn't 'effing care.' When informed that the mediator was in the room and that she was on the speaker phone, she snarled that she 'didn't give a S—!' and hung up.
When defense counsel arrived, she made it clear that she had little intention of taking the mediation seriously despite my efforts to encourage a reasonable discussion of the parties' mutual dilemma. Defense counsel interrupted me whenever I spoke. And I could not set aside the fact that this was a free (or pro bono) mediation.
You can see it coming, right? I know I should I have. Not only was I experiencing disrespect, I wasn't being paid to countenance it. I spoke in measured tones for some time as my irritation rose.
Then, at some point, I just lost it.
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