“What’s the point?” asked the preacher, rhetorically. “Vanity of vanities, all is vanity” was his text, taken from Ecclesiastes, an Old Testament book apparently attributed to Solomon, whose wisdom we have all heard about over the years. The child and two women each laying claim to being the mother – and all that. What profit…

“For nobody would understand, And you kill what you fear, And you fear what you don’t understand.” Powerful words. As a progressive rock music aficionado, these lyrics taken from the song “Duke’s Travels” by my favourite band, Genesis, have often brought me up short as I listen to the album from which they come, 1980’s…

Being a mediator brings surprises along the way. For me, I was presented with what turned out to be the biggest challenge of my professional career last November when the Cabinet Secretary for Health in Scotland appointed me to conduct a review of allegations made by staff (through whistle-blowers) of bullying and harassment in Scotland’s…

“In negotiations of all kinds, the greater your capacity for empathy – the more carefully you try to understand all of the other side’s motivations, interests and constraints – the more options you tend to have for potentially resolving the dispute or deadlock.” These are wise words from negotiation guru, Deepak Malhotra of Harvard Business…

A number of recent mediations have reaffirmed some essentials which I share here in the hope that they might be helpful to others: It’s not all about the money. Mr A had a very substantial claim against a bank running into hundreds of thousands of pounds Sterling, most of his life savings. When I asked…

“If you had not held us back that evening, the deal would not have been done.” “Thank you and I wish you well.” In this post, I return to a familiar theme for mediators and for lawyers acting for clients in mediation: perseverance. The first of the two quotations above comes from a participant in…

The Dilemma: At an initial private meeting with a lawyer and his lay client in a mediation, it became obvious to the mediator that he had previously mediated in a matter which was related to the present dispute, the outcome of which was not known to the present parties. In the mediator’s view, it had…

My last blog reflected on an excellent mediation conference in Frankfurt on the Oder where the strength which comes from working together was clear. I started this present blog on the day that the EU agreed the terms of the UK’s departure from the organisation that has been such a significant part of Europe’s post-second…

At a recent excellent conference hosted by Professor Ulla Glaesser at Viadrina University in Frankfurt (Oder), one of the workshop sessions focussed on the extent to which mediators can or should disclose or express their views when engaged in politically-related mediation work – or more generally. What a fascinating conversation we had. It was no…

“The last great act of a courageous leader is to let go,” I suggested to the CEO as he pondered whether this was in fact a good time to step down. He had many reasons not to leave. He attributed these to other people’s needs for a good transition, giving him a decent send-off, planning…