David B. Harwi, Esq. and George Reath, Jr., Esq.

Mediation? No way. It is too touchy-feely! Feelings injected into the conversation of the dispute act as an impediment to resolution.

These are common criticisms of mediation by some involved in the dispute whose interests are not at risk. Are they fair?

Is resolution possible without considering the feelings of:

  • the Israelis and Palestinians;
  • the sexually harassed employee;
  • the parents suing the hospital whose negligence resulted in the death of their child;
  • the college student prevented from studying in her room by the music of her roommate; or
  • the business owner whose goods were not delivered within contractual expectations?

Feelings are what make each of us unique. They define the way each of us perceives the world and shapes individual values and priorities. In the microcosm of a dispute feelings of the disputants will shape their perception of the facts and define the interests which they want to protect.

Feelings are real. They are part of the facts of the dispute.

The mediation does not have to pander to feelings. However, for the mediation to be successful feelings need to be explored, understood and respected. They are the basis of the dispute and its resolution.

©Triage Mediation Services Inc. 2001

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