Have you ever felt stuck in the middle when someone is complaining to you about someone else?
I’ve seen this situation when it builds up into a conflict because I get called in when this kind of complaining starts to impact well-being.
A Human Resources professional told me recently that some of her leaders try to help their employees in conflict, they try to be bridge builders. But that their efforts often not only don’t work, but can make the conflict worse.
Here’s a key tip learned from my years of mediating: Don’t go tell the one person all the bad things the first person told you about them.
Some of us think we are being helpful by sharing the “truth” with the other person. But, to be a peacemaker-bridge builder, we need to be very intentional about what we share with each of the conflicted parties
When you are the person in the middle, the mediator, you want each person to start to think well of the other person. It’s not about lying or exaggerating, but about listening very deeply to each of them so that you can hear what their hears are trying to say – not their evaluations or judgments.
I call this cleaning the words that are dirty laundry. Do the laundry before you share anything anyone else said. You can do this in several ways. You are looking for what the deeper feelings and needs are and what the best intentions might be of the complaining party. If you hear anything positive at all about the other person, share that. Share what is positive and deeper shares of the heart, not the harsh judgements of the head.
With these small shifts in language, in this way, you do your part to dismantle the war.
“Don’t think of us as separate beings. Imagine that we are one body and it’s been split into millions. When we sit in the mediation hall – that is unity” … Frederick Lenz