Fight, flight or mediate?
By Euan Davidson
When I look back at all the people who have entered the mediation process with me over the years, I can see that the primary responses to a breakdown in a relationship tend to be in line with the stereotypical fight or flight responses, with most people prior to mediation having either entered a form of warfare with their ex-partner or having tried to avoid all contact with them instead. Indeed, given the way that the family law system often operates, it is even possible for both parties to have instructed legal advisors to battle on their behalves whilst avoiding all direct contact with each other, leading to a destructive mixture of the fight and flight responses, with the situation becoming even more damaging when there are children to consider.
This is where mediation can help and if both parties willingly enter the mediation process and if they are both inherently reasonably people, even if the strain that they are under at the start of the process results in them acting less than reasonably at times, then there is every reason to believe that the mediation process will be successful.
However, even if both parties agree to enter the mediation process, it is important to ensure that this does not simply become a different battleground that allows the parties to attack or try to control each other or that enables them to use the mediator as a buffer or messenger of unpleasant news. For this reason, the mediation process will generally be most effective if both parties decide to sit in the same room, rather than looking to meet separately and thus avoiding the need to face the other person or face up to what has happened in the past or take responsibility for what is going to happen in the future, although there will sometimes be reasons for the mediation to be conducted separately e.g. when there is a risk of harm to either party.
Ultimately, mediation requires courage as well as faith in the process itself but if it is approached correctly by all parties, including the mediator, then it can be an incredibly effective way of breaking the fight or flight response and allowing the focus to become about seeking constructive agreements and about creating a more positive future rather than using up time, money and energy on battles in the courtroom, via legal correspondence or on the doorstep.
Please feel free to contact me if you would like to know more about the mediation process and remember that it is never too late to mediate.
Thank you for taking the time to read this post and I look forward to reading your comments.
Godalming Family Mediation