How to know when it's time to call in a mediator.
No one ever calls an attorney unless they really have to. After all, the whole process can be a little scary, if you've never worked with one before, so it makes sense that they're the absolute last resort if you're having relationship troubles — only to be called upon once you're past the point of no return and a split is inevitable.
Unfortunately, because mediators are often linked to the legal profession, we're also seen as a last resort, when really, when it comes to finding a peaceful way out of relationship conflict, it's never too early to call in the help of an experienced mediator.
Are you wondering if you should explore professional help to get your business or personal relationship back on track? Here are some of the red flags to look out for…
The problems in your relationship are long-standing.
Every relationship has its niggles; the quirks your partner has that drive you crazy and have you moaning at each other every now and then. Over time you begin to view them with a mixture of frustration and fondness.
However, if these quirks have been going on for a long time, if they cause frequent arguments and if you've tried and failed for months or even years to persuade your partner to curb their annoying or destructive behavior, it might be time to call for help.
Often we don't even realize the level of distress certain behaviors can cause our loved ones or business partners, particularly if they aren't confident or clear when they're calling us out on them. Sometimes it takes an unbiased professional to help us understand the consequences of our long-standing behaviors to give us the motivation to put a stop to them.
Your own attempts at conflict resolution have failed.
Likewise, if your own attempts to solve the problems in your relationship have so far failed, it's unlikely that you're going to find a way through without outside intervention.
Whether you have conflicting values about the dynamics of your relationship or your business or one (or both) of you has a hard time admitting fault, it can be particularly difficult to discuss problems, reach a compromise, or find a resolution that is fair to all parties. Because a mediator can approach your relationship without bias, they can use their years of training to help you find a solution that suits everyone so that no one walks away feeling that they've been short-changed.
One of you has uttered the phrase, "maybe we should get professional help" (or you've found yourself thinking it but are too scared to say it out loud).
Asking for help is scary, there's no doubt about it; admitting to an outsider that all is not well in your relationship takes courage. If you find yourself wondering if you should call in professional help to address your relationship problems or you're at the point where you and your partner have discussed the possibility, it's a sure sign that the time has come to bite the bullet and get in touch.
The good news? The fact that you're talking about getting help clearly shows that you want to find a way through the conflict and put the joy back into your relationship so there's a good chance that mediation will help you do just that.
If one or both of you has serious underlying issues.
There are some problems that will test the strongest of relationships and in such cases, a good mediator will make a huge difference to how you move through this tough period. Maybe the relationship has been affected by infidelity, there are complex financial matters at play, or one partner has substance abuse issues, PTSD, or other underlying conditions or issues to work through.
Any of these situations would be tough to navigate alone so it's best to seek support before your relationship deteriorates further —it may be that a mediator trained to deal with the specific issues you're facing is the ideal choice to help you get back on track or you may find that you and your chosen mediator need to work alongside another professional, such as a therapist or mental health professional to ensure a positive resolution.
When you think you're a lost cause.
Your relationship may well have reached the point of no return and a break up is the only solution. This doesn't mean that you've passed the point where mediation can help. It's just possible that through mediation you discover that there is hope after all and the relationship can be salvaged. If not, if it really is time to call it quits, mediation can still play a role as you attempt to navigate the next stage, whether that includes the peaceful dissolution of a business partnership, a conflict-free divorce, or trying to come up with a positive co-parenting plan for the future.
If you're still wondering whether it's the right time for you to seek the support of a mediator, here's my mantra: the earlier the better — but it's never too late.
Whether the cracks in your relationship are only just starting to show through, or you feel that you're one argument away from total collapse, I'd love to help you: schedule a call with me today.