Oakland mediator Larry Rosen of Through Understanding distinguishes between two kinds of mediation: needs-based mediation and entitlement-based mediation. “The needs-based is much more powerful, because it has a greater chance of lasting peace.”
“Each person needs choice, dignity, privacy, and understanding. These are biologic imperatives.” Unmet needs result in pain. Until you investigate unmet needs, there will be strategies employed by the person who is in pain – possibly including litigation. Mr. Rosen continues, “Whether or not they care about the other person – and very often they care – it is in each party’s strategic interest to become expert in understanding each other’s needs.”
Mr. Rosen told a story of a couple he knew who divorced using entitlement-based mediation. The husband was angry about the marital settlement agreement – still fighting with the mediator on the day of the signing. Then a few months later when a discrepancy arose, he took his ex-wife into the courtroom. It was a devastating experience for both of them – each spending $15,000 in attorney’s fees and feeling helpless as to the verdict as the lawyers and judges called the shots. “If it isn’t win-win, if the needs aren’t met and there’s a result that your spouse doesn’t like, you and your kids will ultimately pay the price.”
When two people go into needs-based mediation, they are being asked to do something they most likely couldn’t do in their marriage – to come to understand each other’s needs and strategies and to get them filled. Mr. Rosen says, “It’s a tall order, and it does take suspension of disbelief.”
Mr. Rosen says that once his clients can have authentic and intense curiosity about what’s going on for each other without judgment, there’s hope. “As soon as they can hold each other’s needs, understand them as if they were their own without resistance, the mind goes ahead and solves the problem that couldn’t be solved before. It’s a little piece of magic!”
Mr. Rosen reminds his clients that bumps in the road do happen – uncertainty about this path or mistrust of each other. “Expect that there will be emergencies. That is a normal part of two people separating and individuating.” Whatever happens, he suggests that people come back in to continue addressing their needs, because they’re in relationship – even as they’re divorcing.
Teresa Rose is a certified life coach, mediator, and has a life coaching business based in San Mateo. She is passionate about helping transform internal and interpersonal conflicts into growth and peace of mind.
Email Teresa: Teresa@PeaceOfMindCoaching.com and view www.PeaceOfMindCoaching.com