Psychodynamics and Emotions of Conflict

During mediation, mediators may explain the psychological dynamics (“psychodynamics”) underlying a participant’s behavior. To mitigate the risk of appearing self-important or arrogant when explaining the these psychodynamics such as resentment, anger, mistrust, shame, passive-aggressiveness, perfectionism, victimization and grief, Situational™ mediators explain these matters by recounting situations from their own lives. Thus, for example, a mediator might explain the connection between expectations and resentments by recounting instances in which he/she became angry, resentful, and depressed as a result of his/her own unrealistic, unmet expectations concerning school, business, and relationships.

Sometimes during mediation, participants will exhibit passive-aggressive behavior, acting out resentment in petulant, child-like ways. As outlined in the mediation’s Rules and Procedures that call for an atmosphere of mutual respect, a mediator will ask participants to use each other’s first names instead of pronouns such as “he, she, you” or the like. In situations of conflict, these pronouns are frequently used to indirectly communicate passive-aggressive, gender-biased, negative, or hostile messages.

Psychodynamics such as victimization, mistrust, resentment, grief, and perfectionism are frequently encountered when mediating disputes between co-workers. Often they are integral to what is going on in a dispute and Situational™ mediators help participants become aware of them. People who perceive themselves as victims try to compensate for their feelings of helplessness by becoming angry and blaming others. Perfectionism is a setup for failure because to expect oneself or anyone else to be perfect is an illusion, a misconception of the mind; it’s not possible.

Trust is a very common issue in mediation, especially during divorce. Conflict breeds mistrust. Indeed, when marital discord is severe, trust may be the deciding factor with those who choose to litigate rather than mediate. However, distrust is most often localized to specific matters or behaviors. And a certain amount of mistrust can help you remain alert when making decisions. Situational™ mediators strive to normalize trust issues and they certainly don’t discount them.

Most people are unaware of the connection between expectations and resentments. They don’t realize that unmet expectations (expectant thoughts) are the likely source of resentments (entrenched anger) and countless other negative emotions. Situational™ mediators strive to educate participants about this connection in empathic ways, i.e., by disclosing instances in their own lives in which their unrealistic expectations led to anger and resentment.

Most people also don’t realize the frequency with which expectations are unrealistic. All too often it is only in retrospect that most of us are able to see the unreality of our expectations.
Once participants are aware of these concepts and psychodynamics, they have a choice whether or not they want to do anything about them. Before then, they are without choice; they are locked into subconscious repetition of old patterns of insane behavior, “doing the same thing in the same way, but expecting different results.”