Mediation: A Correct Frame of Mind

Posted by: David Fitzsimons Category: Mediation Comments: 0

Did you ever receive a timely reminder of a “good practices” point in an area seemingly unrelated to the day job? Developing studies in neuroscience using active CAT scans and EEG’s appear to provide insights in to brain activity in people under varying degrees of stress. With emerging understanding of how certain areas of the brain “map” for certain activities, scientific observation is aiding in conflict resolution.

A high point of the New Year’s holidays is the increased frequency of English Premier League soccer games on TV. Watching with my 16 year old son as his favorite team Arsenal, unable to hold a 2-1 lead [a constant worry for Arsenal fans] loses 3-2 to their London rivals Fulham, I observed with clinical detachment the failure of the Gunners’ midfield to protect the wavering Arsenal back four. James and I discussed this fact in clipped tones as the Cottagers players mobbed the winning goal scorer in the closing seconds of injury time.

I was at first surprised when James, generally a calm young man [he gets that from his Mother’s side]reacted rather negatively to a suggestion by his mother…”Now that the game is over, could you put this laundry away please?”…a reaction which, let’s say was somewhat disproportionate to the proposal.

As the thunder of unhappy size 12’s receded to the back of the house [cue SLAM of door]…I mentioned that the collapse of what looked like a comfortable win MIGHT have been all that his mind could process at that moment…”But I waited until the game was over”.

So here’s the thing…and thank you if you have stuck with my tenuous thread thus far…in the properly structured process of mediation (pre-mediation conference, mediation statements, meaningful inquiry and observation by mediator) we often enjoy the advantage of forewarning of issues and questions that are likely to fire the emotional, non-rational areas of the brain.

And those CAT scans indicate that when the emotional centers go red hot…the analytical centers go stone cold… and remain that way for quite some time AFTER the hot spot of the initial outburst has calmed down. Is science confirming what we often have done via intuition? Change the subject, redirect, reframe, acknowledge a person’s reaction by reflecting their pain at the failure of the wing midfielders to track back, exposing the centre backs to overlapping attacks and crosses…and WAIT a few minutes before asking them to pair socks.

Further discussion of the intricacies of effective defense in depth, and its application to real life is happily discussed over a Pint at the requestor’s pleasure.

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