The fourth animal of the Chinese zodiac is the Rabbit. The Rabbit is viewed as patient and not easily discouraged.
Both of these are excellent qualities for a person in conflict, however, I would like to focus on patience. I can think back to many discussions with parties where they felt extreme frustration at the pace of mediation. In particular, the frustration is often directed at the other party.
One challenge faced by mediators is matching the time perspectives of each party in the mediation. In family mediation, separation leads to a grieving process as a person processes the end of the relationship, the loss of identity, the evaporation of a planned future, and the inevitable disruption of the pattern of life. For some parties this grieving process may be abbreviated and may start during the relationship. This can mean that by the time they arrive at mediation, they have grieved for the losses and are ready to move on with their new life. For the other party, they may have only begun their grieving process. This leads to a mismatch in their time perception.
For the party who has finished their grieving process, the mediation may feel slow and ponderous. For the party who is still engaged in the grieving process, the mediation may feel hasty and rushed. As a mediator, I need to work with both parties and ensure a process that is respectful yet has forward momentum. If this seems to be the dynamic at work then I often explain this to the parties to help them understand what they may be experiencing. Often this conversation helps both parties to understand a little more about themselves and the other party. A little understanding can lead to increased patience with the process and with the other party. Injecting patience into a mediation, is a little like adding more oxygen to the room.