It has been an honor to serve for two years as MCFM President. Now if I could only convince Mr. Trump of the value of a two-year presidency. . . but, back to reality.
Our profession is extraordinarily important as we encourage parties to actually listen to and to hear the real (i.e., non-fake) needs and interests of each other. Whether their needs and interests intersect only a bit or a lot, in one place or in several, it is our job to help them to see and strengthen those intersection(s).
Easier Said Than Done
Though it is easier said than done, like our Senator Warren, we Persist. We seek connections that have been lost or perhaps were never sufficiently strong. We promote disclosure in situations that can be fraught with mistrust, suspicion, and secrecy. We encourage looking forward through the whole, wide windshield in front of us and not back through the small rearview mirror, as Kate Fanger taught me.
Why do we do this often difficult work? Speaking for myself, I do it to help people find energy to build their future lives; to help people to not just LOOK forward but to MOVE forward: to accept mistakes and create opportunities; to grieve their losses and begin to shed the burdens of regret.
We work to try to help clients replace old fixed ideas with imagination. We work to make proposals have more strength than demands. We work to make suggestions more valuable than orders. We work to make what the law says clear and useful to the parties. And as we promote these ways of working for others, we strenuously try to improve our own use of these values.
Cultivating Productive Neutrality.
What qualities do we/I need to cultivate our role as productive, effective neutrals? For me patience is the “virtue” I most strive for in my work. Second, is perhaps persistence or tenacity. Third, I work to educate my clients with as much clarity as possible about the law and about helpful parenting practices and plans. Fourth, I try to nurture curiosity in myself and the parties about their particular history, present, and future; to keep my ears open to different perspectives from which to understand their emotional and financial circumstances. Finally, I look for connections as I work in order to maintain my enthusiasm in order to contribute meaningfully to the parties’ negotiation.
How Does MCFM Help?
Through programs, institutes, and social gatherings we educate and support each other. We share information about new laws and ideas and how to interpret them to best help our clients improve their circumstances.
I look forward to working with our new Board and Officers as we continue existing programs and increase public awareness of (market!!) the value of mediation to a larger and larger community, coordinate our programming with other organizations with similar goals and interests, and find ways to make mediation services more affordable through our continued work with the Courts of the Commonwealth and through our own internal efforts.
Thank you for these opportunities.