The List of Emotions in Mediation from Anxiety to Agreement - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 61, No. 1
Amy Lieberman is the executive director of Insight Employment Mediation in Scottsdale, Arizona. She serves on the arbitrator and mediator panels of the American Arbitration Association. She has been recognized as one of the “Best Lawyers in America” in ADR, and been designated as an Advanced Practitioner in workplace mediation and employment arbitration by the Association for Conflict Resolution. The author can be reached at 480-348-5948 or at email@example.com.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Going through employment mediation is an emotional experience that brings to the surface pent-up feelings aroused by a conflict in the workplace. Indeed, I often think that the emotions expressed in mediation can be measured by the number of Kleenex the parties ask for during the process. (I keep a large supply handy.) In my practice as an employment mediator, I have observed many different kinds of emotions in both parties, but particularly in the claimant employee. Sometimes it is fear of seeing the person whose actions led to the mediation (“You mean I have to see my boss at the joint session? He’s the one who did this to me!”), anger because that person is not at the joint session (“The company didn’t even bring my boss—and he was the main person involved in all this!”), and frustration (“Why don’t they just pay us what we ask?”). For employees who have sued their employers, litigation also takes a huge emotional toll. Litigants often describe it as an emotional roller coaster that can go on for years.
Lawyers who represent employees in mediation must understand the emotional aspects of mediation and how emotions can help lead to resolution. Without this knowledge, they will have difficulty assisting their clients in moving through the different emotional stages of the mediation process. This article discusses these emotions and when they tend to find expression. It also offers some helpful hints to deal with them.
To simplify this discussion, I have created an “A” list of emotions in mediation. These are anxiety, anger, adrenaline, awareness, acknowledgement, analysis, accommodation, active participation, acceptance, and agreement. Each will be discussed in turn.