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…

I wrote this piece for Strathclyde Mediation Clinic after a series of conversations with new and learner mediators. Some surprised me with their passivity in the face of parties’ lack of knowledge or understanding. After some probing I learned that many new mediators recognise the problem but believe the model they were taught prohibits them…

The importance of gaze

‘Because you’re distant, forgive me for being a little bit bossy’ (Paddy O’Connell, BBC Radio 4’s Broadcasting House) After plying their trade for a while mediators (and broadcasters) develop a persona, not so much bolted on as inhabited. Once in ‘the chair,’ voice, posture and gestures all coalesce to support their purpose and, with minimal…

Do Black Lives Matter

“Racially discriminatory behavior may be reduced more effectively when racial issues are made salient rather than ignored or obscured.” (1) This week I’ve been thinking about white privilege. Ok, my white privilege. Like much of the planet I was horrified by the casual, almost routine asphyxiation of George Floyd. I wasn’t surprised by protest and…

Going online is an opportunity to rethink old ways and try out new ones. For mediators, trainers, coaches, and teachers. Professionally the crisis can be an opportunity. While of course also a threat, with loss of business and income in many sectors, including mediation, facilitation and coaching. The competition for work may become tougher. This…

For readers who are new, the “Neuro-Linguist’s Toolbox” series is an ongoing series focused on using Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) in our practice of amicable dispute resolution. The first section (with 6 entries) focused on rapport (the first of which can be found here). This second section focuses on matters of self-care and personal improvement for…

money

Twice today I’ve found myself responding to mediator reflections in these terms: the money’s not about the money. Both cases involved financial negotiation, even haggling, but that’s deceptive. The key to settlement lay not in the realm of calculation and rationality but in the more opaque social world of face, punishment, justice and emotion. In…

“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…

Photo credit: Creative Commons Jean M.Mas 2/2007 Although my mediation training made no mention of it, 32 years of mediating have taught me that mediations generally unfold over two stages: Stage 1: “Who Did What to Whom”? Here parties (or their lawyers) follow the ritual of naming, blaming and claiming – recounting facts, providing evidence…

At a certain point, when another offer was denied, one of the managers showed a real disappointment with the hard negotiation approach presented by the other party: “You know what?! I lost my patience. I will not sit here any further… I will ask my lawyer to finish the formalities and let’s see each other…