By Gary Friedman and Katherine Miller

Mediators are often expected to maintain a sage-like persona when working with parties in conflict. In lieu of separating the personal from professional self, we advocate for bringing who you are as a person into your professional role. In our experiences, we have found that being yourself can be one of the most powerful assets in conflict resolution. 

Acknowledging and recognizing your own pain, internal conflicts, competing priorities, and other feelings connects people on a level of a common humanity that allows the parties to come further out and work in a different way. Moreover, being yourself provides a chance to not only be defined by who you are as a professional. This is a liberating experience that allows the mediator to follow intuition, a key part of human interaction.

Of course, this does not mean to be yourself without boundaries. The caveat here is to bring yourself fully in the room as the mediator and allow  yourself to engage as another party. While drawing on experiences is a powerful thing, this is not the space to bring forth your own problems or your own solutions. Furthermore, it is critical that the mediator upholds the fundamental role to facilitate understanding without telling the parties what to do. The effort is to facilitate conversation and not necessarily to reach resolution, unless that is where the parties drive it. 

When you no longer hide behind a mask of a ‘professional stance’, it then allows the people in conflict to also be themselves, sans persona, and everybody involved has an opportunity to expand their understanding. To understand more about how to do this, join us on January 25 for our webinar, Being Yourself in the Room.