When I was a kid one of the worst things we could do to a kid who was
bothering us was to stick our tongues out at them. It was when words,
not yet in existence, could not be drawn upon, leaving the only
available option being a child-sized tongue bulging benignly through a
scrunched-up mouth accompanied by equally scrunched-up eyes.

Mediators exist to supply words to clients who have lost the thread
that kept their lives on even keels. An errant garbage can, a badly
aimed security camera, a scheming landlord, a wandering partner, or a
violent interloper brings us up short of words and choices with which
to deal rationally, efficiently, and succinctly.

Mediators usually enter in their fifth act. We meet clients with
violence on the tips of their tongues, spitting flames and blaming
everyone except themselves for the misery in which they find
themselves immersed. Like a verbal lifeguard, we dive into this
squalid pit of ancient resentments to save the last remnants of their
civility and turn into sense, common or otherwise. Stemming this tide
is the everyday fare that mediators wade into, first responders to the
wordless throng, coaxing, guiding, and carrying them down the ladders
and away from the arson of their lives.

Ordinary people do not throw themselves in between two colliding cars,
content to watch the wanton destruction on the local news. Mediators
work in the 3-D world designed and produced by our clients with a
script they started to write but we help them finish.

Like the great method actors, we work from the inside out, tracing the
emotional sense memories of our clients, trying to create characters
who, newly believing in themselves, can realistically communicate with
each other beyond the fifth act, ready to engage in their new world
and more capable than ever of tending their own, but not their
neighbor’s, gardens. Then, finally, we can use those well-worn tongues
to lick our lips in satisfaction, knowing that we saved the worlds of
people for whom their words temporarily abandoned them.