Is Discomfort Really The Sign of A “Good” Mediation?

Something we hear often in mediations is, “The sign of a good mediation is when both parties leave a little uncomfortable.” 

And while this sounds good on the surface, we’re not so sure we agree. It’s true that each party in a dispute maybe end up compromising or foregoing their original ask or offer, but does that always have to lead to discomfort?

Let’s discuss.

While Prism Group handles workers’ comp disputes, our process and approach to mediation doesn’t apply only to such legal proceedings. In reality, each of us— regardless of profession— “mediates” in our lives all the time. If you have relationships with people, you expose yourself to disputes, and if you care about the health and well-being of those relationships, you participate in “mediation” in some way.

Perhaps it’s the age old dispute of who should do the dishes or take out the trash. Maybe it’s the classic I can’t get my kid to clean his room” or the familiar battle with that one friend who takes forever and a day to respond to your texts. In all these cases, each side has their own wishes and wants that are in conflict with each other.

How do you handle such “disputes” in your life? If both of our desires are at odds, where do we go?

This is often the core of mediations: the employer has his/her own wishes, and the injured worker has theirs. Each side arrives with a desired outcome, and sometimes, those desires are at odds. But when Prism resolves a case, we rarely feel that both sides leave “uncomfortable.” And that’s due to the way we communicate and keep things like empathy and listening at the center of our conversations.

People leave disputes feeling uncomfortable— in the workers’ comp world and in our personal lives— when they don’t feel heard, validated, understood, or educated on their choices. Although each side may be leaving with a different outcome than they had originally hoped for, they can still leave comfortable, relieved— even happy!— when we do the important work of treating them like humans.