“You cannot direct a living system; you can only disturb it”1 When mediators join a conflict, they enter a living system. Realise it or not, that system is instantly changed by their arrival. Change may be for the better, and we hope our influence is benign, but nothing is the same again. It therefore makes…

It’s not always easy to spot trends. But one that I have noticed over the last year or two is an increase in the number of cases I am being asked to mediate in which litigation or arbitration proceedings have not yet been issued. This produces different challenges. On the upside: • The parties have…

I was twenty-five years old when I joined Young Mediators’ Initiative (YMI) and first participated at the Andalusian System for Labour Conflict Resolution (S.E.R.C.L.A) as an official mediator. At SERCLA, we normally have an average of ten people at the mediation table. Sometimes, not only am I by far the youngest person in the mediation…

(This is the final part of a keynote address to the YMCA Conference “From Reactions to Relations” in Burton on Trent on 20 November 2014.) Having considered what we can’t help noticing about our clients and about conflict I now turn to the tricky business of self-knowledge: what has our unique perspective at the heart…

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…

It was just a few moments. “You can’t play on our course without proper golf shoes.” “But we played here two days ago in these shoes.” “My colleague must have made a mistake”. “But it was you who let us play…”. “It’s in our rules.” “Where?” “Here.” “No it’s not. There is nothing about soft…

Recently my good friend Canon Andrew White (aka “the Vicar of Baghdad”, as he is the Anglican priest at St George’s Church, Baghdad) convened a meeting of religious certain leaders from Iraq and Israel, bringing together senior Iraqi Muslim and Israeli Jewish figures in Cyprus for several days of talks about peace. It was by…

My December blog was centred around a 15th Century occurrence. This month, I am in the final two years of the 14th Century. Last night, I went to see Shakespeare’s Richard II at the Barbican Theatre in London. The title role was played (quite brilliantly) by David Tennant – a piece of trivia for all…

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…

Here is a confession. I have a theory (in the best traditions of Monty Python). It is totally untested. I am pretty certain that it would not survive rigorous, double-blind trials. It may, however, contain some seeds of insight. My theory – wait for it – is that mediations where one or more of the…