The Proper Mindset and Attitude for Successful Mediation
According to Honeyman & Yawarajah (2003; Beyondintractabililty.org), as I interpret it, the action of mediation involves four different levels, or steps, and I think this is a good example of mediation in a nutshell. Prior to a conflict, a mediator might engage in (1) preventative diplomacy. This involves meeting with both parties individually in order to determine if there will be any snags or points of contention that may need clarification prior to any conflict arising. Once the snags and contentions are worked out, and the path to peace is becoming clear, then the mediator would move on to (2) peacemaking activities, which refers to hard conflict and the act of mediating said conflict. Next, (3) implementing agreements pertains to the activities that take place after a dispute has been settled to assure all sides involved that policies are being honored. The final stage or step occurs over the course of time after agreements have been settled, and parties are ready to collaborate on (4) peace-building. During this phase, the mediator or team works toward consolidating peace, and fostering the growth of sustainable development.
This process is quite a formidable task for a team of mediators or a single individual to accomplish. By this, I am referring to mediation between two disparate earthbound cultures or societies. A look at any newspaper or internet news site can demonstrate just how much mediation is going on, and is needed worldwide. Imagine if you will the multitude of variables a single mediator, or team of mediators, will have to face at the time of first contact! It simply boggles the mind.
If you are ready, I am going to jump paradigms for just a moment and discuss the job of the ego in mediation. The first clarification I wish to make is that we are going to assume that an alien entity, if they are a creature of thought and self-reflection, has what Freud refers to as a "personality construct," and this personality is made up of a (1) “super-ego,” the part of personality that represents cultural or spiritual norms, laws, customs and regulations by which the entity lives and exists, an “ego,” or the part of the entity’s personality that represents their interface to time, space, and reality as they understand and perceive it. The (2) “ego” is also the mediator between the “superego” and (3) “id,” which is best represented by the part of personality that represents fears, as well as their wants, needs and hopes. It is primary process. It wants what it wants, when it wants it. It is also the part that wants to express itself by saying “The hell with it all – let us simply invade the sons of bitches, and drink down the spoils!” I chose Freud’s construct because with only three parts, it works best for this example.
Now, on the other side of the table sit we humans, who are creatures of thought and self-reflection, thus the same personality construct and its components, naturally, apply to us, and in precisely the same way.
Where does the Ego of the mediator belong? What is its function? If successful mediation is to be accomplished, then the mediator’s ego has a lot of work to do. First, it must readjust allegiances. Naturally, we would want to side for we humans, because that is who we are. Instead, we must subsume our allegiance with either side, which means the Ego must suppress the need to be a part of either side.
Now, if you are confused, that’s normal. The reason for this rather in-depth introduction is to let the reader know just a little about all the intertwining systems, the actions, the psychology, of all that is taking place during the action of mediation. And believe me – I’ve barely scratched the surface. This is, precisely, why the person’s ego must restrain it’s counterparts in their personality, and remain neutral. When we make first contact, I believe the very lucky first team of mediators will set the standards for all to follow, or at least I hope so. The task will be difficult. Think of what we might face: (1) The entities may not speak audibly. They may be telepathic. For humans, this will be a stretch. It might feel a bit strange to “hear” an alien’s voice in our heads. And, how do we answer? Is it just “Think a response?” Maybe, maybe not; that is to be seen. (2) Their language might be in mathematical symbols, or sound (recall Close Encounters of the Third Kind?). We will need to adapt for even this. They might be threatening, or warlike, or pacifistic and culturally superior. Either way, we will have to adjust. How can we best represent our society? Will the populations of Earth be able to depend on us to be the neutral mediator?
We will be counted on, especially if we can show ourselves as portraying, what eminent psychologist Carl Rogers calls “Unconditional Positive Regard.” The brilliant Carl Rogers explains that unconditional positive regard is accepting the other person, or entity, in the current moment, regardless of status, crime, or temperament, or culture, beliefs, and attitude, as a good person, or entity, at face value, as long as the current moment lasts. Maintaining this attitude causes the mind of the caregiver, or in this case, the mediator, to remain neutral. If you embrace the other with unconditional positive regard, then any discriminating feelings, thoughts or behavior would, logically, be incompatible with that mindset. Maintaining that attitude will increase the chances of successful mediation, because you will treat all involved in the same way – equally fairly, and with positive intention.
Lastly, for now, I want to discuss the other factor involved, and this goes “hand-in-hand” with unconditional positive regard: Honesty. Brutal, full on honesty is the best policy when dealing with an unknown or foreign (alien) entity. Maintaining the “unconditional” mindset, one will, actually, find truthfulness fully compatible, and deception, trickery, or defensive covering to be incompatible. Think of the ramifications of “covering” something simple: an entity might transmit the message telepathically to you as follows “You are frightened.” Covering up this very simple, seemingly meaningless truth might wind up in disaster. If we answer truthfully, that will be compatible with our mindset. The entity will likely acknowledge this, and, no problems! The negotiations continue. Saying in return “I am not fearful,” might very well upset the alien entity, break trust, and prove we are not – a worthy race – they have been provoked! If a human mediator cannot be trusted, then who can?
Well, for now, that seems to be enough to digest. Chew on this stuff for a while, and next time, I will cover some other aspects of psychology as it refers to Mediation. Thanks for reading!