Last weekend was Father’s Day and I took note of two stories that seemed useful in mediation. The first, was on CBS Sunday Morning where the editorial piece reflected upon how student athletes, from Little League through College, end each game, however hard fought, with a handshake and a “high five”. The piece queried why Congress couldn’t do that after each session? After all, though they stand for different strategies sometimes, they are all essentially working for the same employer (our Federal government) and theoretically have the same goals (to serve the American people). In the face of the shooting of a Congressman at a Baseball practice, this lesson seemed particularly salient.
The second was an article by Maria Shriver on teaching Kindness. She reflected on something that resonated with me, which was that young girls and women in highly successful families were taught to engage in competition, to strive to be the best that we can be, but were not particularly prized for being the most empathetic or for engaging in small or large acts of kindness. I’m sure that is also true for young boys, but it never really struck me that my generation of women were encouraged to downplay the impulse towards kindness in an effort to highlight the “stronger” qualities within us.
Hopefully, we can take a lesson from these two stories that is useful in mediation. A simple handshake, before and after the mediation, and a genuine effort to summon kindness and empathy where competition may have guided the conduct on each side up until that moment, may go a huge distance.