Brings you down to buy a paper If you read between the lines No one seems to have the answer To living in these troubled times Still you try and you try And you do what you must do “Living in these troubled times” R. Cook, S. Hogin, P. Donnelly; sung by Maura O’Connell (amongst…

A couple of weeks ago I came across a poem by the Native American writer Joy Harjo, entitled “Conflict Resolution for Holy Beings.” The title made me curious, as might be expected for a mediator. You can find the whole poem online on the Poetry Foundation website, or you can buy the book of poems…

Values drive practice

(I first wrote about mediation’s values 12 years ago at the tail end of a Masters in Conflict Resolution and Mediation Studies.(1) Two years of study had convinced me that it is our values, rather than the techniques we learn, that tell us what to do and say when when mediating. The intervening years haven’t…

“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…

Despite efforts over the last 20 years to promote mediation and the roles of the mediator at EU level, mediation is very, very little used. This result is observed even after implementation of large-scale promotion projects and education programs regarding the benefits of mediation for the health of relationships between people, groups, companies, states, and…

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…

Formality and informality

Place matters It’s good to see authors on this blog referencing academic research – see Rick Weiler’s recent post on decision-making. Similarly, a new chapter by Singapore judicial mediator Dorcas Quek Anderson (1) has got me thinking about the old chestnut of formality and informality. Anderson considers the impact on people and processes of the…

Last week I was reading an essay by the American novelist Jonathan Franzen, and was struck by the following thought: “The essay’s roots are in literature, and literature at its best […] invites you to ask whether you might be somewhat wrong, maybe even entirely wrong, and to imagine why someone else might hate you.”…

We are living in an every expanding web of interdependence; built around trade, investment, cultural exchange, digital technologies, and global politics. In such an environment effective cooperation is an ever more crucial. Yet alongside this need there are equally strong drivers spurring on ever more competition for resources, markets, talent etc.  Both cooperation and competition…