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 firstname.lastname@example.org