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…

This post is unlikely to win me friends on America’s West Coast and it may even see my US mediation teaching visa withdrawn, however when the issue even has its own Facebook group called Save the Mediation Joint Session and Promote Party Participation with over 50 of the world’s top mediators signed up, then the patient is more critical than I thought. The rise…

Last month, Al Jazeera carried a piece called “‘Mama Boko Haram’ grasps for peace in Nigeria”. It detailed the activities of Aisha Wakil (pictured above), a Nigerian lawyer who has become a de facto mediator between Boco Haram and the Nigerian government – often at considerable risk to herself. “Mama Boko Haram”, as she has…

Talking to Dr Gilbert Wong Senior Superintendent, Commanding Officer, Police Negotiation Cadre, Hong Kong Walking into Gilbert Wong’s office is like stumbling into Aladdin’s Cave – a treasure trove of memories and stories of his 21 years in the Hong Kong Police Force. Amongst his library of books on crisis negotiation, psychology, counselling, psychotherapy and…

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,…

The legendary cellist Pablo Casals was once asked why he continued to practice at the age of 90. “Because” he replied, “I think I’m making progress”. It is an extraordinary acknowledgement from a man widely regarded as one of the greatest ever cellists. Let’s be clear – Casals was a colossus in his world. Fritz…

In the early days of personal computing, the development of the “graphical user interface” was accompanied by the acronym, WYSIWYG: “What you see is what you get”. While frustrated computer users know that this was never entirely true, or might only have been true for the computer boffins who designed the interface, the idea was…

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…

Mediators deal in words – not exclusively, but a great deal (and perhaps sometimes too much, but that’s another blog). So it pays for us to think carefully about what words really mean. A couple of years ago, I came across an article entitled “US facilitation yes, mediation no: Omar”. It detailed how Pakistan, through…

There is a famous sketch by Monty Python in which the lead character (Michael Palin) is looking to buy a five-minute argument. He walks into an office where the receptionist offers him some options. One of the options involves a person who is too conciliatory. She decides that there is a good argument available and…