I have been reflecting recently on the individual and collective professional journeys we all undertake – and on the different stages we reach. My reading has taken me to a thought-provoking book by theologian Richard Rohr, entitled Falling Upward. Rohr’s thesis, put very simply, is that there are two stages to life. The first, necessary,…

There are times in mediation when emotions are so powerful that it’s impossible to think of anything else. This week I witnessed, at the very least, despair, fear, anger, hurt, sadness, care, love and relief. They can be fleeting – a flicker of amusement, a nod of recognition, a disdainful glance. Or they can be…

Much has been written about the impact of body language on communication. I have in a previous entry addressed the connection between non-verbal communication and the building of rapport. While body language is the commonly used term, I prefer the term non-verbal communication for two reasons. First, the term “body language” is a metaphor that…

[Author’s Warning: This entry involves references to and discussions about the system of Cartesian Coordinates and how it might assist mediators in reality testing and reframing. Readers with a Math Phobia are advised to proceed with cautious abandonment.] [Author’s postscript: As I finish writing this, it becomes increasingly clear to me that some readers may…

Last Sunday in Edinburgh I took part in a panel on the subject of Intractable Conflict. The principal speaker was Oliver Ramsbotham, Emeritus Professor of Conflict Resolution at the University of Bradford, and author of ‘Transforming Violent Conflict: Radical Disagreement, Dialogue and Survival’ (Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge, 2010). He described a familiar, if depressing, phenomenon in…

Down here in New Zealand it’s high summer and most of the country will spend until the end of January at the beach. I remember, when I was still at my law firm 10 years ago, the feeling of brief respite at this time of year before having to put on my boots again and trudge…

Mediators often talk about the power of framing their own language and reframing the language of parties and others in mediation settings. For example, mediators may frame their comments in neutral, constructive and future-focused language. They may reframe party statements to detoxify offensive or destructive language or to create a shift from the negative to…

How many times have you confronted the mediator before the session begins with this question: “You’re not going to do a joint session are you? I don’t l think it will be productive.” The conventional wisdom in such a request is to avoid a moot court debate in which counsel are forced to advocate strong…

In this post I want to talk about an important thread that is emerging in the science of the twenty-first century. It is the finding that we are all interconnected, that we are porous beings with the ability to influence not only ourselves but one another in ways not previously contemplated. What we previously knew…

Part of my misspent youth was spent on immersing myself in reading about, taking trainings in and practicing Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP). Over the years, NLP has affected my thinking about and approach to my training and practice of mediation. Some readers may not be familiar with NLP. I will provide a, necessarily, brief background here…