In recent years we have learned a lot more about what have become known as cognitive biases and how they may play a part in negotiation and mediation. These are mental shortcuts that save energy and get us out of tight spots that have evolved over thousands of years. Well over a hundred have been…

Anna Howard’s first book, ‘EU Cross-Border Commercial Mediation: Listening to Disputants – Changing the Frame; Framing the Changes’ (published by Kluwer), is an important contribution to the literature about the practice and promotion of mediation. It deserves a wide readership among academics and practitioners alike and I hope that potential readers will not be deflected…

The process of discerning what to write about in a blog is interesting. Sometimes inspiration comes quickly. On other occasions, there is a barren wilderness, or a hotchpotch of half-formed ideas. This month feels like the last of these. I thought to write about a really excellent new book by the Oxford economists, Paul Collier…

Forced into quarantine due to COVID-19, thousands of miles away from home; I have struggled with silence, but eventually made peace with it, thanks to my Jesuit upbringing. Over a decade ago, as a Jesuit novice, I ventured on a reflective journey called the ‘Spiritual Exercises’ – a month-long retreat that is the hallmark of…

This is a tale from an ancient piece of Chinese literature – Lu’s Commentaries of History – – compiled in 239 B.C. by Lu Buwei, the Prime Minister of the state of Qin.- “There was once a villager who had lost his hatchet. Thinking it was stolen by his neighbour’s son, Wang, he began observing…

Early in the morning, I got a call from a lawyer representing one of the parties in cross border mediation. “Would you consider changing the venue for our meeting?”, he asked. Usually not a surprising demand. This time an expected one. We were about to meet in Milan, Italy which at the time being had…

“You’ve done what?” It took just a moment. The red mist descended. The words were out before I could haul them back in. “You’ve just gone behind my back and undermined what I set out, and we had agreed, we would do….you might at least have had the courtesy…..” The lawyer had just told me…

Many years ago, a group of friends were driving in the south of England in a rental car and, in need of directions (pre-Google maps and GPS), we pulled over to the side of the road to ask a gentleman the way. I leapt out, approached him and asked for the directions, to which he…

“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…

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…