Seeing Both Sides

As far as I know, there are only two professions that are legally able to represent two parties to a contract without a conflict of interest. These are auctioneers and notaries public. The very nature of what they do is to affirm that two parties have made an agreement and attest to this fact should one part default on or dispute that agreement.

In any other situation, representing both sides to each other is a conflict of interest. The facilitator is automatically suspected of either favoring one side over another, or of manipulating and dragging on the conflict for his own personal gain.

And this also causes problem when dealing with issues of loyalty. If two family members or friends have a dispute, who do you side with? How do you mediate fairly to both of them? And more delicately, how do you handle an issue where you agree with one side without making it look like you’re taking sides? How do you assure one party that your conclusion that they are in the wrong is not due to personal motivations or malice?

And how does this work when you’re a wizard?

If a person comes to you for magical assistance with an issue that deals with another person you are also friendly with, how do you judge what the best course of action is? How can you remain neutral in such a situation, when you are very obviously invested personally?

I’ve encountered such situations on a few occasions. It is not comfortable.

First off, it obviously depends on the nature of the situation. If one friend is being an outright ass to another, it is clear that the best course of action is to call that person out. If the situation is one of blatant aggression or open conflict, and one side is very clearly the aggressor, it’s not a hard call.

It’s the more subtle issues that are more complicated.

Secondly, it is important to identify what your own interests are, and if they conflict with the interests of the other parties involved. And if they do, set them aside. That is not an easy thing to do, and if you cannot do so you have an obligations to pass the problem to someone else.

Many, many years ago, a young lady I had affections for approached me for a reading regarding her interest in a mutual friend. I saw that if I told her not to pursue the matter, it would improve my chances with her. But I also saw that she was a better match with the other person. I advised her that it may work between them but advised her to get someone else to get a more definitive reading, because I was having trouble in the matter. She did and it worked out between them.

It is also important to recognize the difference between working for the benefit of one side or the other, and working toward an ideal solution for both parties. What might be the easiest solution for one party in a conflict might be devastating to the other. If a solution can be found that is more complicated and intricate, but gets better long term results for both parties, it is work pursuing. However, if it cannot be worked successfully, a more definitive solution that is less desirable to one party may be necessary.

And finally, if neither party is blatantly “at fault,” and it does becomes necessary to chose sides, how do you decide?

I am very big on loyalty to my friends, and that loyalty isn’t always determined by how long I have known them.

If I have to choose sides, I will probably side with the closer friend. (But I probably would have from the beginning, to be honest.)

If the situation is a kind of misunderstanding or unfortunate emotional mix (a lot of people ask me to help with unrequited love) I will tend to aid the side experiencing discomfort as the result of the actions of another, rather than the one dealing with internal strife.

And if both parties seem to have an “equal” claim, and just can’t hash it out, I will side with whomever asked me for assistance first.

Determining what will work best is often a difficult task in itself, and I rely heavily on tarot divinations. I will do at least five readings in a conflict: one to overview the situation, and two for each party to determine optimal outcome if action is taken or action is not taken. If magical action is proposed, I will also do a reading to determine the likely success of such action — sometimes things look great if a spell is proposed and assumed to work, but the likelihood of the spell working is crap. And then actions to improve the success of the spell must be assessed.

As a magic user, you will be asked to assist in settling disputes and conflicts. Learning how to do this can be tricky, especially if you’re close to the situation. But it can be managed if you are careful and self-aware.

Just be prepared and willing to pass the matter on if you have to, and secure enough to admit that you can’t handle it.

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One response to “Seeing Both Sides

  1. Pingback: Seeing Both Sides | Practical Pagans

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