The Power of the Hostile Mediator

Several years ago I would have poo’d this article. But being a divorce mediator now for close to 10 years I think in many cases being hard-nosed or even hostile can force the parties out of their own embedded hostilities and increase their willingness to come to an agreement. I’m not certain why but my gut gives these reasons: 1. hard-edged and/or hostile gives the mediator power and the mediator “controlling” the power causes the parties to want to agree. 2. The mediator’s use of hostility makes the parties feel like they SHOULD be reaching an agreement or that if they do, they can be done with this process which is proving to be very uncomfortable. 3. A hostile mediator takes the power from the parties which takes their mind off “positioning” and make them more vulnerable and therefore more open to agreement.

It is not going to work in all situations but I daresay that in many cases this approach yields results quicker. The mediator has to be careful to make certain the toughness/hostility is directed at both parties and is not about just one party. This is crucial.