Mediation Is So Much More Than Compromise

By Gary Direnfeld

Two chefs in the same kitchen needed a dozen lemons to complete their dish. As they fought over the last remaining dozen, someone said they should each use six. However, without the proper amount, neither dish would be satisfactory. That solution wouldn’t work, and neither chef could see past the conflict and their fight raged on.

The dishwasher hearing their conflict wandered over and asked each chef what they were making and why they needed a full dozen lemons.

Turns out that one chef needed just the rinds, to be candied for a dessert. The other chef needed just the juice to make civiche (fish marinated in a citrus juice).

It turns out they each needed a dozen lemons, but each had a different reason, although their interest was the same – to create their beautiful dish. Despite mutual animosity between the chefs, because they finally were aided in discussion, the solution presented itself.

The dishwasher was the perfect mediator. With no vested interest in the outcome, just a curiosity about their needs, wants and interests, a solution arose without imposition that was eloquent and wholly appropriate to both chefs’ needs. They each went on to make splendid dishes.

Mediation Is So Much More Than Compromise | Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW.


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