Family Mediation: The power of apology

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Family Mediation: When trust has been damaged.

There are statements I often here during family mediation. “I don’t trust them”.  “There is nothing they can say”.  “That is the most insincere apology I have ever heard”.  How many times have you said, or thought this.  How many times have you given a less than sincere apology.  Just to avoid the conflict.

Sound familiar?  During family mediation and family counselling I frequently hear this.  Statements like these tell me that trust has taken a beating.  For family mediation, restoring at least some level of trust in important.  But how?

Family mediation is not a “magic bullet”.  A mediator cannot restore trust into the relationship.  Only members of the family can do that.  And that starts with someone making an effective apology.

So what is an effective apology?

Start with this.  What is the purpose of your apology.  To avoid conflict? To avoid responsibility?

Or, is your purpose to resolve the conflict in a helpful manner. To restore some level of trust. To open lines of communication.

If your purpose is the second statement. You are on the path to making an effective and powerful apology.  Making a sincere apology can remove roadblocks.  Can lower anxiety and anger.  Can allow for helpful conversations.  Can result in opportunity to create common goals.

Lots of research indicates that a powerful apology has seven components.  There are two keys here.  First, components must be given in order.  Each part depends on the other.  Second, each part of the apology needs to be clearly stated by the speaker.  Then understood by the listener.  Here they are:

Revelation: there is a problem, something happened that created a problem

Recognition: a realization that someone has been hurt, damage to the relationship has been done – either intented or unintended

Responsiveness: a desire to deal with the issue, a time frame is created

Responsibility: take ownership of actions and words, at least part of the issue belongs to me, I did or said something

Remorse: acceptance of hurt feelings, – based on the first four “R’s”

Restitution: offering a meaningful re-payment, giving something back

Reform: providing plan for change, committing to creating change, being part of a solution

Why do effective apologies work?

Giving an effective apology does several things.  It takes strength and courage to admit to errors.  It shows a desire to take responsibility for part of the conflict.  It tells people that you are willing to create change.

Offering an apology can immediately remove a barrier.  It opens the door to helpful conversation.  Often, one or more of the people in conflict are wanting to hear an apology.  Once that is heard, people can become open to discussing issues of importance.

Avoiding issues is usually considered a sign of weakness.  Confronting issues in the spirit of finding solutions can be considered a strength.  It moves the conversation forward.  It moves the focus from what “has” been done, to what “can” be done.


Having family conflicts.  Want more information?

Contact me today at (403) 952-8752, or at


Mediators: Choosing a mediator

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Mediators: Choosing the right one.

Looking for mediators? Choosing the “right” mediator, like choosing any other professional, can be difficult.  Let me give some tips and information to help with your decision-making.  Finding  mediators that matches you and your needs can make all the difference.

Governing bodies and training.

To possess the designation of “Mediator” certain training must be done.  Lawyers, perhaps not all, have training specific to mediation.  A person would have to ask specifically if their lawyer does mediation. Not all do.

I am a professional mediator.  I received all my training  from Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Institute of Canada.  I am held to professional standards from that group.  As a Qualified Mediator I have received significant (60+) hours of instruction, skill development, and assessment.   This training is specific to mediation skills, conflict resolution and communication skills.  Annual training opportunities are provided.  I do this to help me keep current and to refine my skills.

What skills do Mediator have?

Mediators possess many skills.  Skills that help people express their concerns and desires in a clear and helpful way.  

First, I consider mediators to be “professional listeners”.  I listen to people with an open and curious mind.  I really do want to find out what is causing the conflict.  And the points of view of each person. I do that by listening to what they say without judging.

Second, mediators practice asking good questions.  This is more difficult than it seems.  A good questions can do several things.  A good question helps clients:

           * think about what is really bothering them

           * clarify and identify issues that are truly important

           * encourage them to think about options and alternative

Simply put, asking a good question will help clients change how they look at a problem.  Helping them move from a negative thought to a positive thought.

The most important thing I can do, is to help people move forward.  Find an option that resolves their conflict.


How do I find a Mediator?

Well, you’ve found one right here.  

Or, go to ADR Institute of Canada website.  There you will find a prompt that will guide to a list of mediators found in your area.  

Other than that, do a google search, find a list of lawyers in your area.  Regardless of how you find a mediator I would strongly suggest that before hiring, have a conversation with that person.  I offer free first-time conversations all the time.  It is important the both the mediator and potential client can have a positive working relationship.