I would like to wish each of you a Happy New Year. May it bring you health, happiness, joy and prosperity.
My wish is forward looking as it involves the year to come- 2014. Yet, an Op-Ed piece by Amy Summerville of Miami University posted on Live Science on January 3, 2014, notes that it is just as important to look back in time- to our regrets. Notably, as 2013 marched towards New Year's Eve and the beginning of 2014, each of us looked back on 2013, thinking about different events and how they could have/should have/ would have turned out differently if we had altered our behavior ever so slightly or had done something differently. Succinctly, Ms. Summerville opines that rather than avoiding our regrets, we should look at and study them. While our initial reaction is probably to avoid dwelling on them, in truth, we should embrace them and examine them as doing so will yield "many unexpected benefits." (Id.)
For example, "regret helps us learn from our mistakes." (Id.) By discussing our regrets, we identify where we think we went wrong. As one example, by our "regret" to the effect that we should have gone to the gym more, we highlight how inactive we were and why we gained weight. (Id.)
Which leads to the second benefit: "regret helps people do better in the future." (Id.) By identifying "... the cause of negative events," we can figure out what steps to take next; that is, what should be our proper course of action. One example given by Ms. Summerville is that as a result of all of the criticism about Beyoncé lip syncing the National Anthem at President Obama's Inauguration, she "fixed " it by performing a very inspiring a cappella version at the Super Bowl several weeks later. (Id.)
A third benefit is that "talking about regret makes people feel closer to others." Research shows that "... when people want to feel closer to others, they were more likely to express regret." (Id.). At the same time, other research shows that "highly -achieving people are more likeable if they make occasional blunders...." (Id.)
So, how does this relate to dispute resolution and mediation? More likely than not, you will have a regret or two about the events or situation that brought about the dispute. By embracing those regrets (rather than denying them), you will be able to move forward by figuring out "how to do better in the future." (Id.). By talking about those regrets and taking action to "correct" the situation, you will be able to actually put the past behind you and look to the future. Simply put, focusing on the past "mistakes" will lead to a resolution and a happy 2014!
By Phyllis G. Pollack