Empathy- You’ll know it when you feel it!
Last week in Calgary a couple of wonderful things happened. First of all AAMS – The Alberta Arbitration and Mediation Society – announced that they will be partnering with us to sponsor the PULSE program for workplace mediation. That is very exciting. I am looking forward to the opportunities that this arrangement will afford us.
Secondly, we hosted two PULSE courses. Marjorie facilitated PULSE mediation level 1 while I facilitated PULSE mediation level 2. I had the opportunity to be a role player and to get into the persona of one of my former mediation clients to play an authentic role for the new mediators in my class. It was enlightening to say the least. The difference between level 1 where we don’t play stump the mediator and level 2 is that we try to make things more realistic in order to prepare people for what they will face in the mediation room. The idea is to take competent PULSE Deltas who can facilitate mediation meetings and mold them into PULSE practitioners who are comfortable using the tools and structure in what ever situation they find themselves.
For me, as role player I experienced the PULSE Frame in a new way. Although the mediators were interjecting to keep the conversation on track, I didn’t find it intrusive or demeaning. I found it quite helpful to have someone remind us of the path toward resolution we were on. My novice mediators were effective with the timing of their interventions and resourceful in the face of a difficult highly emotional situation. They did an excellent job of bringing us to resolution. What is ironic is that what was missing for me as participant was the empathy. That is ironic because it is the one thing that I have to work extra hard to do in my own mediations.
I live on excitement BEACH most of the time which means I look for fun and avoid pain of any kind, so emotionality is rare for me and I really don’t know what to do with it when it shows up … at least it isn’t natural for me to empathize. Even on my other BEACHS, Power and Detachment, there is a tendency to ignore or minimize the emotional aspect of things. So there I was in someone elses shoes thinking, “This hurts and no one has mentioned it.” Huge lesson for me. One I will not soon forget.
Don’t forget to tell all of your friends about the PULSE Conference in Vancouver in August.