Wow. So, I’ve almost always had decent skills as a mediator, as someone who can get people talking about an issue they’re having and work towards resolving it — I’m usually fairly good at keeping a discussion focused and keeping out, as much as possible, direct attacks on people, or blatant manipulation to get someone to do what someone else wants.
There is, however, a significant difference between being able to mediate a discussion between a group of people in order to resolve a conflict, and being turned into the “middleman” — asked to ferry messages between people who are unwilling to speak directly… having to recount the same situation numerous times so each person has a chance to hear what’s going on… and in the process having to attempt to additionally convey all previous conversations with others; the old playground game of “telephone” comes to mind quite quickly — with each retelling of the events, clarity is lost, meaning misinterpreted, and all too often, information is either added or removed, all of which leads to miscommunication, hostile feelings, and general discord… when it could all be lessened or even avoided if anyone chose to discuss the matter between themselves.
Then there’s the craziness when one person makes a decision that affects others, and acts on that decision, without regard for or consultation with the affected individuals, and naturally anger and frustration follow as the others voice their input contrary to the first decision, and again, rather than discuss with the person making the choice, the matter is brought before me to interpret the intent of the decision, to explain, rationalize, and justify it, without any accurate way to do so.
Right now I’m feeling more and more as if I’ll soon be faced with an impossible choice: which group of very close friends do I wish to keep, and which do I simply abandon, since these two groups are looking ever closer to being mutually exclusive? It would be easy if I didn’t strongly care for each and every one of these friends, but when I love them all equally, how do I decree some of them suddenly insignificant and never to be seen again?
It just occurred to me that in some ways, it’s as though I’m the child of a couple seeking divorce. None of the issues between the parents are directly that child’s fault, but he is still frequently put in the position of choosing which of his parents he wishes to stay with, and which one he leaves. Sure, there’s visitation rights, or split custody, but hell, what kid wants to spend his life with one parent for a month at one end of the country, then fly back and live with the other for another month or two, then repeat endlessly?
I don’t want to be made to split my time with friends into “okay, this week I can see these friends… and next week, I have to stay away from them and see my other friends…” — but I feel if there isn’t any way to resolve the differences that my friends seem to have with each other, then that may be the case… or, optionally, and certainly less desirable, simply saying goodbye to many of my friends entirely, so that I can still spend time with at least some of them.
Feel free to leave your thoughts on the subject — as a comment on this post, not as a private message to me. I’d like any discussion here to be available to anyone else who wishes to read it; if I do receive a message on the subject in private, I will post it as a comment here as well. Let’s see what happens when the folks involved in a dispute actually communicate with each other, maybe?