A Walk Down Memory Lane

19 Aug

Memories. We all have them. Some good … some not so good. But what happens when we have a memory that’s false? Or mixed up in some way?

I read an article recently that scientists have traced memories of events that never happened. Wow – how crazy is that? But then I gave it some more thought. My sister and I sometimes play “childhood trivia.” One of us comes up with some obscure thing like “What was the name of the lady who lived 5 doors down” and then the other one tries to remember (or guess). What strikes me about our game is that sometimes, we remember things quite differently.

So, why am I writing about this today?

Well, think about how powerful this phenomenon is in the case of a dispute. What if party has a different memory of an event or a sequence of events?

memoryThat’s where mediation can help. Each party is given the opportunity to share his or her perspective at the beginning of a mediation. That’s their uninterrupted time to tell their side of the story – what brought them to this point. This ‘walk down memory lane’, so to speak, helps to identify when there are different perceptions about the dispute’s ‘history” and opens up conversation about those differences. Questions can be asked by the mediator (and sometimes the other party asks questions too) and the process of ‘clarification’ begins.

This is a very powerful part of mediation. It’s also a time when feelings and emotions about the issues can be put on the table as well. Sometimes, these have been kept inside and it’s the first time they have been said out loud.

Mediation tries to focus the party’s attention to the future, so that they can work on resolving their dispute. But reviewing the past is an important starting point to make sure that parties are beginning from the same page in their collective memory.



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