What I’m re­ally think­ing

The Guardian Weekly - - Mind & Relationships - Tell us what y you’re re­ally thin think­ing at mind mind@the guar guardian.com

The hous­ing trust is at its wits’ end. Two house­holds are in an in­tractable dis­pute over a small area of pave­ment be­tween their houses, where each feels they have a right to park. In fact, no one owns the road out­side their house, but each per­son feels their cir­cum­stances en­ti­tle them to park there. So, a me­di­a­tor – me – has been called in. Park­ing dis­putes and noise is­sues are now so com­mon that they make up the ma­jor­ity of my work­ing day.

We meet in a neu­tral space. Their body lan­guage says it all. Eye­brows raised in sar­casm and dis­gust, a lot of tut­ting and eye rolling and a fair few F-words – de­spite the ground rules, which ask for re­spect­ful be­hav­iour. Each side makes it clear that if only th­ese stupid neigh­bours could see the un­rea­son­able­ness of their po­si­tion, no one would need to sit here wast­ing every­one’s time.

Me­di­a­tors must be im­par­tial, non-judg­men­tal and end­lessly pa­tient. I nod and lis­ten sym­pa­thet­i­cally. One party doesn’t see why she should have to re­verse her car to park it. The other re­fuses to squeeze her buggy round a dust­bin to get to the boot of her car. I feel like telling them to grow up and stop behaving like five-year-olds. In fact, I’ve seen chil­dren sort out play­ground dis­putes with more ma­tu­rity. They should re­alise that tiny houses in nar­row streets of­ten have three or four cars fight­ing for space out­side.

With so many real prob­lems in the world, why can’t th­ese peo­ple sum­mon some com­mon sense and re­alise that such an in­flex­i­ble at­ti­tude of en­ti­tle­ment makes life mis­er­able for every­one? But then we w me­di­a­tors would w be out of a job.

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