The Importance of Truthfulness in Mediation


I don’t know about you, but my head is absolutely spinning as I watch the events of the Trump Administration/Intelligence Committee investigation regarding communications with Russia during and after our last election. The nuances of what is the truth, whether the surveillance was lawful and who was entitled to know about it and when are simply mind-boggling.

It occurs to me, as a principle of mediation, that we consciously do not rely upon an assumption that one side has the ultimate “truth” to the detriment of the other. Instead, mediators are asked to hold “two truths” as possible in order to reach a compromise or agreement where each side concedes that there is the possibility that their view is not the “complete truth”. As an existential matter, I wonder to what extent Judges and juries can rely upon the notion that because a witness is sworn to tell the truth, the complete truth is actually and clearly revealed “beyond a reasonable doubt” and that the side holding the truth ultimately and predictably always prevails.

The 18th Century Philosopher Voltaire famously said: “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.” Perhaps there would be a whole lot less polarization and discord if our elected officials could accept that there is no certainty. Perhaps then the absurdity we are witnessing could be tempered by a full and fair investigation which concededly only aims to reveal enough of the facts to make a judgment call about the harm in the conduct and how it may be fairly redressed.

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About the Author

Jan Schau

Jan Frankel Schau is an Attorney Mediator in Los Angeles, California. She is an exclusive Neutral with ADR Services, Inc. specializing in employment, business and tort matters.

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