In a recent series of mediations, I encountered a number of people who began to “hate” each other. Each time, allowing the parties to talk resulted in far less hatred. Picture a conference table full of men in dark suits in one room angry about a dispute regarding a contract. Distrust and hatred were palpable. Down the hall, the other party to the contract was sitting with his spouse and his attorney. He was sad and frustrated. Both sides were distressed and disturbed. They were good friends but significant problems had arisen. A lawsuit had been filed, and for many months neither side had talked to the other. The legal issues were complicated.
I mentioned early in the process that a few select men may need to speak to each other. Attorneys were reluctant. Clients were intrigued but wary. After ordinary attempts at settling the dispute seemed to be yielding no results, I brought the key people together. They shared stories. They cried and laughed. They solved their problem. All indications of hatred disappeared. Like so many others, these good people appreciated the opportunity to discuss the issues in a controlled setting with a trained mediator.
That day I felt I was working to correct that pull of hate, as I do more often than not. “Hatred paralyzes life: love releases it. Hatred confuses life: love harmonizes it. Hatred darkens life: love illuminates it.” Reverend Martin Luther King, Jr. Thanks Dr. King for reminding me of why I love my job.