Pollyanna/pɒlɪˈanə/ noun/an excessively cheerful or optimistic person. “what I am saying makes me sound like some ageing Pollyanna who just wants to pretend that all is sweetness and light” Every mediator has been called a Pollyanna at some time or other, usually when encouraging those in conflict that resolution is just around the corner – and often in that…

A few recent observations prompt this blog about language and the world of words that we work with in mediation. First, in reading around the burgeoning literature on online dispute resolution and – especially – at the algorithm-based, automated end of the scale, I note the suggestion that dispute resolution and mediation are based just…

Wherever we look, there is a variety of articles, blogs, keynotes and workshop topics all talking about the necessity to develop future leaders, understand the next generation(s) and attract the right talents. The mediation profession is no exception. With this article, I am encouraging every reader to actively develop and shape the future generation of…

This blog entry arises not so much from any mediation, but from one aspect of regular social encounters that is all too normal a part of negotiation and mediation. As the title suggests, it’s about the role of inquiry, asking questions – not merely gathering information, but going beyond that in the expression of interest…

Once again, we find ourselves on the eve of the annual ICC Commercial Mediation Competition which is about to kick off in Paris, France next week. Last year I posted 10 tips for participants, one of the most important being that mediation remains an oral sport, and the most effective counsel and parties in real…

Something is in the air at the moment. And it goes to the heart of what we mediators do. On the one hand, noted mediation thinkers such as Robert Bush and Joseph Folger write an empassioned challenge to the profession “Reclaiming Mediation’s Future: Getting Over the Intoxication of Expertise, Re-Focusing on Party Self-Determination”, arguing that…

“The key to doing well lies not in overcoming others, but in eliciting their co-operation.” Robert Axelrod “Although negotiation takes place every day, it is not easy to do well. Standard strategies for negotiation often leave people dissatisfied, worn out or alienated…..” Roger Fisher and William Ury For probably the final time, I am writing…

Tension Raising Behaviours; 100% statements Labelling Put downs and excitable statements Threats Interpreting/analysing/patronising/matronising Collecting allies Non-verbal behaviours Preparing an attack Sarcasm Defensiveness/self justifying Over detailing Tension Reducing Behaviours; Acknowledging probable legitimate concerns Put in perspective Be specific Own the interpretation Own the personal response Invite feedback Invite response

I write here about two contrasting experiences which have, for me, underscored the richness of the mediation process. In one mediation, involving business partners with an ongoing management issue, one of the protagonists (A) suggested bringing in another partner (D) who was not perceived to be a part of the present problem, simply to observe,…

This is where I did my best work in Christmas week – in the twilight zone between the joint session room to the right of the water cooler and the private caucus room off to the left by the green bins. Corridors can be furtive and risky spaces on mediation days – ‘don’t ask me…