I wrote this piece for Strathclyde Mediation Clinic after a series of conversations with new and learner mediators. Some surprised me with their passivity in the face of parties’ lack of knowledge or understanding. After some probing I learned that many new mediators recognise the problem but believe the model they were taught prohibits them…

The importance of gaze

‘Because you’re distant, forgive me for being a little bit bossy’ (Paddy O’Connell, BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House) After plying their trade for a while mediators (and broadcasters) develop a persona, not so much bolted on as inhabited. Once in ‘the chair,’ voice, posture and gestures all coalesce to support their purpose and, with minimal…

Photo credit: Christof Häuser, via Nathalie Birli We mediators are accustomed to recognising empathy as an important part of our mediation repertoire which is consistently reinforced in our training and professional development. It is front of mind for many of us as we plan for and conduct our mediations. This blog has seen its fair…

“If two people are in a room, there are actually six to consider: “What each person is; what each person thinks he or she is; and what each person thinks the other is.” So began a recent Guardian editorial on relations between Iran and the USA. This observation is attributed to the late wife of…

‘A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush’ is thought to originate from mediaeval falconry! There are a number of variations on the theme – apparently in central Europe the saying is ‘a sparrow in the hand is worth a pigeon on the roof’! A number of cognitive biases are at play…

“Hi, I’m Rick. I’m your mediator for today. I can’t decide what happens in this dumb dispute or how you resolve issues. My job is just to help people who are incapable of resolving conflict, like yourselves, find areas that you can agree on. That means I get to control what appears in the messages,…

Quite often, we hear mediators and mediation trainers using the fable of “Blind Men and an Elephant”, which is a story about several blind persons describing an elephant differently out of their own experience by way of their respective touches of the different parts of the same elephant, to illustrate that a party’s own interpretation…

Bloomberg (not my usual reading fodder, I confess) carried an interesting piece a couple of months ago, entitled “Meet the Real Force Behind the Brexit Talks”. Yes, it was about Brexit (yawn) but it was about an unseen side of the negotiations. Opening with the line “In every negotiation the most important work is done…

Here in Singapore, along with the rest of the world, we await the Trump-Kim Summit scheduled for Tuesday 12 June. What can we expect? While we may have learned to expect the unexpected from these two leaders, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-Un, recent media reports have highlighted one apparently predictable feature of Trump’s negotiation approach….