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…

‘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…

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…

My colleague and fellow Kluwer author Charlie Woods has likened my scatter-gun approach to starting new projects and coming up with new ideas to “guerrilla gardening”. I am sure he means it as a compliment. Some ideas take seed…. So, here is another seed. Just a week or two ago, I was reading a (UK)…