“When you are the man in the middle you literally take shit from both sides”
When I think back to my childhood days I have come to realize that I am very often “The man in the middle”. Of course this might happen to everyone by coincidence at some point or another in their life but in my case I have often made a concious effort to put myself in this situation.
I remember stepping between bullies and the bullied, possibly because of stories that my father told me from his youth, and also being the person that both parties would call after a break-up wanting to talk about their feelings for the other person.
When I got to University in London I had realized that I was unconsciously putting myself in these position and also that it was something that I quite enjoyed. So I started looking into the field of mediation. When people hear the word mediation most will perhaps make the connection to the UN and its peace keeping operations. Often we will hear on the news that the UN has stepped in between warring parties and are guaranteeing a cease fire while working to negotiate a peace-agreement.
The idea of the UN negotiating a peace agreement however has some basic flaws. First of all negotiations take place between the warring parties and not with the UN. If an agreement can not be reached between the parties then there will be no solution and as soon as peace keeping forces are removed from the area hostilities will continue. Furthermore the UN, being made up of representatives of the Worlds nations is not really a legal entity which can enter into agreements with sovereign nation states.
So, the UN is in the true meaning of the word a mediator.
The discipline of mediation has its own framework and rules for how the process of a conflict should be resolved. Time-constraints, confidentiality of the negotiations and others which you can read all about if you only do a simple web search.
I have a couple of simple rules that I try to live by when I am the proverbial “man in the middle” and I thought that I would share my 10 rules of mediation here with you.