Try this thought experiment: imagine a mediator without empathy. How and what would they do? Would there be drawbacks? Benefits? The response to these questions probably depends on our own experience of empathy. This simple yet often misunderstood term masks a complex and fascinating set of ideas about human connection. Because we believe empathy is…

In 1933 Alfred Korzybski wrote: “A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.” More recently (2006), James Robertson wrote (to reference him once again, this time from ‘The Testament of Gideon Mack’): “We trust in maps because when we…

This post is based on the research of two professional communities – mediators and dialogue facilitators – in Ukraine (see the research article) and poses a few preliminary questions that require deeper thinking and more research. Although the fieldwork for my article was done in Ukraine, I was told that similar developments are also noticeable…

At the start of another year, it can be useful to conduct a bit of a personal stock-take. What holds us back from achieving all we could this year? How many of us suffer from silent self-doubt? How many of us would admit to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and uncertainty about what we do? Far…

“It was impossible to get a good conversation going; everybody was talking too much. ” Yogi Berra I use the word “odd” here in two of its meanings in English: odd as in occasional or sporadic; and odd as in strange, worthy of comment. This blog is a reflection on recent conversations observed or engaged…

Mediation existed in the Middle East hundreds of years ago. In fact, the notion of deferring to a neutral and objective third-party for a decision towards the resolution of a dispute is well steeped in Arabic/Islamic traditions. For example, one of the most famous stories of Prophet Muhammad’s early life is that of him being…

Over the Christmas break, I had the pleasure of reading Ken Newell’s memoirs, “Captured by a Vision”. Ken was (until his retirement some years ago) a Presbyterian Church minister in Northern Ireland who, out of deeply held conviction arising out of his Christian faith, played a central role in bringing together representatives of both sides…

It was a comment made a few months ago and it has stayed with me: “But Anna, mediators are all tree-huggers.” There have been many variants of this type in response to my answer to the very English question: “So, what do you do?” These comments continue to irk me. Finally, as this year draws…

As the year comes to an end, I am expanding upon a story to which I referred in a previous blog, in the hope that it may provide a couple of useful reminders of what we do as mediators. I had eaten a chicken curry rather hastily at the hotel where I had been mediating…