I've been reading Kenneth Clokes great book entitled "Mediating Dangerously." Chapter Three is titled "Honesty and Empathy: Speaking the Unspeakable." I am often at a loss for words in explaining what Mediators do, and I believe Ken offers at least part of the answer here:
"Increasing the depth and quality of empathy and honesty encourages both sides to accept responsibility for their lives and choices, based not on what the other party says or does, but on their own values and integrity. While integrity requires honesty, honesty does not necessarily require integrity. Integrity means acting consistently with values, even when it runs counter to one's immediate self-interest. While nearly everyone in conflict espouses collaborative values, they nonetheless demonize their opponents and offer excuses for themselves. Mediation reminds them of their integrity, which forces them to abandon defenses agains learning and growth, if only to avoid similar problems in the future."