At this time of annual reflection, I always feel it is worth looking back and picking out some of the better readings and materials I have come across over the past number of months. My father recently said he wished he had been in possession of a wheel barrow when visiting Harvard University’s bookstore, and…

“The key to doing well lies not in overcoming others, but in eliciting their co-operation.” Robert Axelrod “Although negotiation takes place every day, it is not easy to do well. Standard strategies for negotiation often leave people dissatisfied, worn out or alienated…..” Roger Fisher and William Ury For probably the final time, I am writing…

It was just a few moments. “You can’t play on our course without proper golf shoes.” “But we played here two days ago in these shoes.” “My colleague must have made a mistake”. “But it was you who let us play…”. “It’s in our rules.” “Where?” “Here.” “No it’s not. There is nothing about soft…

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…