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Person A: “I did all this stuff but you don’t even recognize it!”
Person B: “I do recognize it but you don’t see what I’m talking about!”
Person A: “I went to get your clothes washed; I’ve got the house cleaned…”
Person B: “I’m trying to say that the problem isn’t what you’re doing at all…”
Person A: “And I get everything cooked on time, and work so hard to fill your needs…”
Person B: “In fact, I agree that you’ve done a great job with fulfilling all my physical needs…”
Person A: “And I’ve tried my best to do everything, and this is how you treat me?”
Person B: “It’s just not the things I wanted you to do!”
Person A: “Why do I get treated this way? What have I done to deserve this?”
Person B: “I just want to have a nice calm conversation without a lot of drama!”
Person A: “I’m not going to talk to you anymore; I’m going to sleep!”
Person B: “Do you understand? Hey! Where are you going?”
Does this sound like a conversation that you’ve experienced at some point? Have you been both Person A and Person B? Most of us probably have! There comes a point in an argument where both people seem to be talking to each other, but have actually ceased communicating because neither of them is listening!
While the above may seem like a conversation, they are actually two soliloquies by the two people that just happen to be interspersed together! The two people’s speeches make sense without the other person around! If that is the case, then what is the point of having the other person around? If the “conversation” is just as fruitful with and without the other person, then there’s really no conversation going on at all!
The irony is, on some level, person B is actually agreeing with person A. However, because Person A isn’t listening, he doesn’t realize that Person B is agreeing! And because Person B isn’t listening, he also doesn’t realize that they are essentially saying the same thing! Why would this happen to two people who want to communicate with each other? Wouldn’t it make more sense to listen?
Well, it seems that there is a point where our emotions take over and we become defensive. This point differs from person to person, but it almost always will happen when we don’t feel understood. That is exactly what is happening with Person A and Person B above – each is trying to explain their own positions and refuse to listen until he feels that his point has been understood! However, that’ll never happen if both people are in that state!
This is where mediation can be very useful. When we’re in that state, it’s more that we need someone to understand – it doesn’t necessarily have to be the person we’re arguing with! Therefore, if both people can find someone to listen to them, then they can get past the point where they need to be understood and start listening to the other person’s perspective! And when they listen, they can understand and come up with ways of fixing the problem.
Of course, it helps even more if that person can understand both people’s perspectives. When we’re not listening to the other person and are emotionally committed in an argument, it is hard to understand and even harder to come up with mutually beneficial solutions. However, having an unbiased person that understands both positions, he is much more likely to come up with something feasible that takes the needs of both parties into account!
It is important though that this person truly is unbiased and is respected by both people as such. Otherwise, the solutions that this person comes up with will not be given its full consideration. Also, this person also needs to have the capability of understanding both people and to make them feel understood! Without that, the people arguing would still feel a need to be understood first and as a result, wouldn’t be open to hearing any solutions to the problem.
All these minor issues aside, talking to a person you respect can give you a lot of insight – especially if he understands the other person’s point of view as well!
With all the advantageous of mediation though, the downside is that this becomes kind of a crutch in the relationship. What if that person isn’t around anymore? In a way, it’s like the two people saying, “We can’t handle this problem, we need your help!” Over the long run, it’s probably more beneficial for the them to come up with their own system of conflict resolution that doesn’t require outside interference.
However, if you are truly at an impasse, it doesn’t hurt to get some help, right?
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