It is trite that one of key tasks of a mediator is to sort out what Patton, Stone and Heen in their book “Difficult Conversations” refer to as the “What Happened” conversation. Although they write about this and two other conversations in the context of negotiation, their insights are pertinent to mediators as well. One…

I’m not often drawn to practical tips. I once discovered that I am an “activist” learner. This apparently means that I learn best when “thrown in at the deep end” and less well when “absorbing and understanding data” (see http://archive.excellencegateway.org.uk/page.aspx?o=152477 for a description of learning styles and http://www.peterhoney.com for a self-evaluation test). It perhaps explains…

Interesting ripples on the interweb about mediator ‘styles’ – (see the LinkedIn group ‘ADR, Conflict Resolution and Mediation Exchange’). One discussion thread was prompted by a nice ‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ question: can a mediator have any style or does the style vary from situation to situation? The discussion has ranged from styles to models, with…

I read a long time ago that lessons for life can be found everywhere as long as we look for them. As with many of these quotes that we read, my response was to nod sagaciously, file it away for future reference and then forget all about it. I was driving the other day, about…

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…

In the last year I have had the privilege of joining a group of mediators for their monthly CPD (continuing professional development). We are all loosely in the commercial sector, which can include workplace, family business and public sector disputes. This being Scotland (see previous posts on judicial resistance to mediation) no-one is making their…

In mediation training and experience are key words that path the way to success. Good mediators must learn to be conscious of their own emotions and to be aware of the emotional reactions of mediation participants to intervene effectively in a conflict. When starting a mediation career one could believe that access to training and…

In this posting I want to reflect on how, as a mediator, I’ve learnt much from the related but independent conflict management process, called conflict coaching. Before I get ahead of myself, however, let me start by offering an explanation of conflict coaching. Conflict coaching is a service provided by a conflict specialist to a…

On the final day of an advanced mediation skills training I took many years ago, the trainers brought in a group of improvisational actors. The idea, as you might readily guess, was to invite us to shake off our habitual responses (together with our post-lunch lethargy) and, unbound by convention, let our creative impulses off…

I come from a Western mediation tradition that argues strenuously for neutrality and impartiality in a mediator. Indeed, one of the first questions lawyers will ask when hiring me is whether or not I have any conflict of interest – in other words, do I know those involved in the dispute, have I worked with…