Perspectives from a Mediator/Arbitrator

Friday, May 26, 2006

Perspectives - the Age of Innocence

Everybody that is involved in a mediation or arbitration has a different and unique perspective. Each person observes different things, responds uniquely to events and has different concerns. Sometimes when I am in the midst of a mediation or arbitration , I am so focussed on my own perspectives that I forget to take in (or try to take in) the unique perspectives that the participants are having. Of course sometimes these perspectives are communicated verbally, other times they are not and often I have to probe to entice the perspective out.
A recent car ride with my two children retaught me the lesson of perspective. My seven year old son asked me how long it takes to become an "avocat" (French for lawyer). I indicated that I studied for six years, worked for one and then went back to school for another six months to become a lawyer. He wants to be a computer programmer when he grows up. He asked how long it takes to be a computer programmer. Not sure of the answer, I said at least three years, maybe four or five. My daughter (who is five) chimed in that her best school friend wants to be a "Mom". Not surprising given that the girl's mother is about to have her fourth child. I asked her what she wanted to be and she replied "Dad I want to be a superhero!". The unique perspective of a five year old. Fortunately, unlike my son she did not ask how long it takes to become a superhero. I would have had no idea how to respond.


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