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…

Formality and informality

Place matters It’s good to see authors on this blog referencing academic research – see Rick Weiler’s recent post on decision-making. Similarly, a new chapter by Singapore judicial mediator Dorcas Quek Anderson (1) has got me thinking about the old chestnut of formality and informality. Anderson considers the impact on people and processes of the…

good mediation seen through a client's lens

“Like poets, but with less time” The Deep End Getting to grips with mediation can leave students and trainees overwhelmed. That favourite training tool, the roleplay, throws most in at the deep end. The sudden immersion forces them to speak, listen and observe while trying to remember models and skills plus a sea of reading…

Time Limited Mediation

“It is pointless to do with more what can be done with fewer.” William of Ockham A colleague recently asked me to present a workshop to employment mediators on ‘Time Limited Mediation.’ Until that moment, like Molière’s bourgeois gentleman realising he’s been speaking prose all his life, it hadn’t occurred to me that this was…

Brexit negotiated!

In this blog I discuss the rise of ODR (online dispute resolution). I review recent developments including a live, online Brexit negotiation, which point to a mainstream future. I conclude that ODR will become an integral part of the justice system. When Frank Sander coined the term ‘Alternative Dispute Resolution’ his relatively modest proposal placed…

(This post is being republished because of technical problems when it was first published.) One of the key debates among mediators centres on the word ‘evaluation’. I’ve written about this before – see Has the evaluative label outlived its usefulness? I’m sure many readers are familiar, even bored, with the claimed polarity between facilitative and…

Try this thought experiment: imagine a mediator without empathy. How and what would they do? Would there be drawbacks? Benefits? The response to these questions probably depends on our own experience of empathy. This simple yet often misunderstood term masks a complex and fascinating set of ideas about human connection. Because we believe empathy is…

Negotiation teachers often scratch their heads looking for scenarios to engage students – something realistic, complex and with high enough stakes to motivate participants. Recently it came to me that we in the UK are sitting on a negotiation goldmine. The Brexit negotiations are certainly real, arguably the most complex we’ve ever undertaken and have…

This post riffs on Elvis Costello’s “What’s So Funny Bout Peace, Love and Understanding?” to probe the usefulness of the words “trust” and “respect” in mediation. Invitation Mediators the world over are taught to invite their clients to speak. We’re not there to tell people what to do; rather to ask them what they want…