Elephants are appearing all around Worcester. They are part of Worcester's Big Parade, a fund-raising project for St Richard’s Hospice. The hospice is funded by voluntary donations – if you would like to support this wonderful service, you can do so at https://www.strichards.org.uk/donate/.
Seeing the elephants set us thinking. What can we all learn from elephants that would help us to make good choices whether in mediation or in life generally?
What do you think about when elephants are mentioned? Here are some of our thoughts:
1. Elephants are thick-skinned.
We wondered whether our decision making might be better if we didn’t react so quickly to the unpleasant things that others said about us. At the same time, being insensitive to other’s feelings is hugely unhelpful when making choices. Here at The Worcester Family Mediation Practice, we encourage couples to try to understand each other’s hopes and fears, their needs and the challenges that they face. We find that this helps them make better choices which work for the whole family.
2. Elephants have large ears.
Listening carefully to one another – and working hard to understand what is being said – is a big key to success in any shared decision making. This is one of the many benefits of mediation.
3. Elephants are protective of their young.
In any family choices, parents should focus on the impact on children. We encourage parents to see themselves as having responsibilities rather than rights in relation to their children, and to focus upon how their choices will have good outcomes for their children. When possible, co-operative parenting, with each parent supporting the children’s relationship with the other parent, is the ideal.
4. Elephants are said to have long memories.
One of the things that we have noticed is that separating couples often focus on the unhappy period of their relationship – the time of the breakdown – and forget the positive times that they enjoyed together. It can help the post separation relationship of parents if they can take time to recall the positives about their time together – the successes as well as the failures. Another thing about memory for separated parents is the importance of not forgetting the things that are important to children and especially not forgetting when promises have been made to them. Mediators will encourage parents to under-promise and over-deliver.
5. Elephants are, sadly, hunted for their ivory.
We sometimes choose to forget that the pleasure that we derive from having something that may well come at an enormous price to others. Reflecting on the impact of our decisions upon those around us will lead to better relationships and, ultimately, a happier life for ourselves. Driving the hard bargain may well seem attractive in the short term, but the consequences in the long term are not always as positive.
So, when you see the elephants in Worcester, ask yourself what you might learn from them – and don’t forget those whom St Richard’s Hospice are serving.