The Dance

17 Feb

The definition of a “dance” in Websters dictionary is “a series of movements that match the speed and rhythm of a piece of music.” Now, why on earth would I write out that in a conflict resolution blog?

The reason is that in mediation, I often see conflicting parties “dance” with one another. What do I mean by that?

ballroom-dancers-007They have their own music that defines their interaction with one another – it’s something that only they can hear. But it determines how they communicate with each other … on their own.

As such, it’s very predictable and often not very productive. Perhaps that’s why they are in mediation.

Let me give you a recent example. I had to step out of a mediation for about 3 or 4 minutes to attend to something.  Now, that’s not a long time. But by the time I got back in the room, the parties were already back to their “dance” … the one that had brought them there.

I was pretty amazed by how quickly their conversation had degenerated to their old dance pattern and how none of them really realized that it had happened. It was their own habit.

And it took a bit for them to focus on the future again in the mediation. They wanted to be busy dancing in the past.

Since then I have been observing the “dance patterns” that I have with different people. Sometimes a tango – and sometimes a waltz. But consistently the same with the same person.

There is an African proverb that goes like this:

“When the music changes, so does the dance” 

So, perhaps, if you don’t like the way you are interacting with someone, maybe it’s time to change the music and try a different dance??



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