In the desire to ‘commercialise’ mediation, I feel we are at risk of cutting out the very things that make mediation work. I hear about mediators who have dispensed with the opening meeting and those who think it is always just about money. Sometimes they tell me that this is what the clients want (and which clients are they talking about, I wonder).
I heard a story recently from a very experienced mediator: On arriving at the mediation venue and greeting the barrister for one of the parties, he was presented with a precisely timed agenda right down to the moment when the settlement would be reached. Thankfully, he took no notice!
So as a reminder why people need time to tell their stories, and that mediators, parties and their lawyers need to remember why it is important, here is a wonderful and favourite poem:
A story is like water
that you heat for your bath.
It takes messages between the fire
and your skin, It lets them meet,
and it cleans you!
Very few can sit down
in the middle of the fire itself
like a salamander or Abraham.
We need intermediaries.
Jalāl ad-din Rumi (1207 – 1273)