I come from a Western mediation tradition that argues strenuously for neutrality and impartiality in a mediator. Indeed, one of the first questions lawyers will ask when hiring me is whether or not I have any conflict of interest – in other words, do I know those involved in the dispute, have I worked with…

This week the 5th World Summit on Elder Mediation is taking place in Glasgow: see http://www.eldermediation.ca/styled-2/index.html. It is an inspiring gathering, bringing together mediators from Canada, Ireland, Spain, Switzerland, England and Scotland, all committed to helping older people deal with conflict in a way that is humane and just. The range of issues is daunting…

I have in previous posts referred to the distinction between direct and indirect forms of communication. Mediators will certainly have encountered these forms of communication before. Without seeking to offer a comprehensive or technical definition of what direct and indirect communication is, I would like to share some thoughts on this topic. First, it is…

Scotland is a practical nation. The list of its inventions includes penicillin, anaesthetics, steam engines, tarmac roads and even the decimal point (see http://www.magicdragon.com/Wallace/thingscot.html#Ta). Like the rest of the UK its culture was in part forged by the ‘practical man’ of the Industrial Revolution, rejecting grand theory in favour of trial and error. Its lawyers,…

I recently came across a new word – new to me, at least, which was irritating because I pride myself on having a pretty good vocabulary. The word is “Chaordic”. To quote Wikipedia, “The portmanteau chaordic refers to a system of governance that blends characteristics of chaos and order”. The term was apparently coined in…

It’s been a tough week. In fact, it has been a tough month. And, on reading Geoff Sharp’s post from 30th November, I am amused and reassured to see that I am not alone in thinking this! Maybe it’s the time of year, maybe it’s the weather over here in the soggy Northwest of Ireland,…

How good are the decisions you make? Are they free from error? From unconscious bias? Are they consistently the product of careful reasoning? Before you answer yes, consider the following questions: 1. A bat and a ball cost $1.10 in total. The bat costs $1.00 more than the ball. How much does the ball cost?…

Hong Kong is the global city of designer ‘labels’ as even the most reluctant of shoppers cannot fail to observe. It is also the city of fakes – fakes with labels and fakes without labels – and the place where the ‘No Fake’ label and the ‘No Label’ label thrive! Confused? Well don’t worry, Hong…

1. Unlike the arbitral process where courts strive to distinguish between the concepts of a private process and a confidential process, the mediation process is indisputably and inherently confidential. But what happens if one party breaches this confidentiality during the mediation? In formal terms, can the act by one party in breach be treated as…

Most mediators are pragmatists. This may not be our reputation, but in reality we wrestle daily with practical matters such as who will do what, when they will do it and how much it will cost. I once taught mediation to a group of therapists. Their ‘soft’ skills (this doesn’t mean easy) were fantastic, actively…