When I'm mediating, I search for space. Space to insert an observation. Space in which to disappear for a second, a minute, 10 minutes, sometimes even 15 or 20, to listen and watch and learn. When I go in too quickly, assume I know what the hell the problem is, then I miss that indescribably important moment when the people, the conflict, have the potential to shift. If I wait too long, then I can fall into the trap of asserting my own agenda rather than allowing the parties to take the mediation where they need to go.
Rob Brezsny, author of Pronoia is the Antidote for Paranoia, describes the word "Pronoia" as "how the whole world is conspiring to shower you with blessings." I've always thought of conflict like that: a strange and disturbingly incredible gift most of us want to throw back or run from. Conflict isn't good exactly. I don't believe that. But it's not bad either. More than anything, conflict seems to me like an opportunity, and mediators the agents of this bizarre but creative potential.