What mediators do with words

‘The world is made, not found’ (W. Barnett Pearce) (1) I just spent an intensive weekend on Zoom with my students, helping them navigate their early steps into mediation practice. So much has changed. I have never met most of them face to face; we sit at home on our screens; there are no coffee…

I wrote this piece for Strathclyde Mediation Clinic after a series of conversations with new and learner mediators. Some surprised me with their passivity in the face of parties’ lack of knowledge or understanding. After some probing I learned that many new mediators recognise the problem but believe the model they were taught prohibits them…

The importance of gaze

‘Because you’re distant, forgive me for being a little bit bossy’ (Paddy O’Connell, BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House) After plying their trade for a while mediators (and broadcasters) develop a persona, not so much bolted on as inhabited. Once in ‘the chair,’ voice, posture and gestures all coalesce to support their purpose and, with minimal…

Do Black Lives Matter

“Racially discriminatory behavior may be reduced more effectively when racial issues are made salient rather than ignored or obscured.” (1) This week I’ve been thinking about white privilege. Ok, my white privilege. Like much of the planet I was horrified by the casual, almost routine asphyxiation of George Floyd. I wasn’t surprised by protest and…

Woman wearing facemask

‘He who would do good to another must do it in Minute Particulars’ (William Blake, Jerusalem) The coronavirus pandemic deals its cards very unevenly. Some individuals get it lightly, if at all, and even countries seem to be spared, at least for now. For others it’s a catastrophe. Here in the UK we watch, helpless,…

Stop apologising

(This blog is adapted from a longer version published by Prof John Lande as part of Theories of Change for the Dispute Resolution Movement: Actionable Ideas to Revitalize Our Movement. The Theory of Change symposium asked mediators and scholars to think big about their dreams and visions for the future, and was recently published on…

money

Twice today I’ve found myself responding to mediator reflections in these terms: the money’s not about the money. Both cases involved financial negotiation, even haggling, but that’s deceptive. The key to settlement lay not in the realm of calculation and rationality but in the more opaque social world of face, punishment, justice and emotion. In…

Values drive practice

(I first wrote about mediation’s values 12 years ago at the tail end of a Masters in Conflict Resolution and Mediation Studies.(1) Two years of study had convinced me that it is our values, rather than the techniques we learn, that tell us what to do and say when when mediating. The intervening years haven’t…

To paraphrase a worldwide cliché, you wait decades for a Mediation Act and two come along at once. On this typically dreich Scottish summer afternoon I find myself in the surprising position of examining two distinct proposals for mediation legislation. Why surprising? This blog has carried news of a succession of mediation acts in countries…