It never ceases to amaze me how, having an entrenched position in a conflict situation can make the normally most reasonable of adults behave in ridiculous ways.
A few weeks ago I called at a petrol station to pick up a paper. As I made my way to the shop I was distracted by a commotion going on at the air pressure pump.
There were two grown men shouting at each other, arguing over who’s turn it was to use the air pressure pump! Cars nose to nose, one man was stood their clutching the air pressure hose to his chest as the other one gesticulated and the air turned bluer and bluer.
The even funnier thing was that the man clutching the air pressure hose could not reach his car with the hose to use it but nevertheless was stubbornly refusing to give up possession.
When I was paying for my paper the attendant was telling his colleague that he had called security. Tongue in cheek, I suggested they might need a mediator to which the response was that a shotgun might be more effective!
I pondered afterwards as to how many times I have been involved in mediations where seemingly grown up people in senior positions have behaved in a similar childlike fashion, by refusing to offer their opponent car parking facilities or adequate lunch because “why should they?”
Whether parties are arguing about an air pressure hose or a multi million pound contract and from whatever walk of life, human and somewhat emotive irrational instincts will always kick in at some point and should not be ignored.
At whatever level we are involved in a dispute; as the person with the problem, the legal advisor or indeed the mediator, we should not lose sight of the fact that we all have an instinctive reaction when pressure is put upon us. We should all look at our own behavior and try and take five, to objectively analyse how we are behaving in the heat of the moment.
Suzanne Lowe, MD Tak Mediation Ltd