What mediators do with words

‘The world is made, not found’ (W. Barnett Pearce) (1) I just spent an intensive weekend on Zoom with my students, helping them navigate their early steps into mediation practice. So much has changed. I have never met most of them face to face; we sit at home on our screens; there are no coffee…

Sometimes I wonder what the facilitation and mediation work I do is all about. By which I mean what purpose does it perform for clients. What is it that they are asking for from me, and what is it that they actually get? Do they always really want what they are ostensibly asking for? Do…

The introduction of the Singapore Convention on Mediation (SCM) last year has intensified the long-standing debate on professional mediator standards. A previous blog post called for China to streamline its legislation on commercial mediation, and another spoke of the prospects of proliferating and harmonizing standards in the Middle East. The idea of a global mediator…

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…

One of the positive aspects of the enforced changes brought about by lockdown is that it enables – or compels – us to try new things. So far, I’ve learned how to create and have issued 13 podcasts, the idea being to spread ideas as widely as possible at this crucial time. After much procrastination,…

Those who have practised theatre may have heard of Constantin Stanislavski’s “An Actor Prepares” – a book on acting published in 1936. The book is popular in Hong Kong not only among those in the performing art but also fans of the Asia famous Hong Kong comedian,  Stephen Chow, who posed to be reading the…

I was privileged recently to give opening remarks at a meeting of mediators in the International Academy of Mediators. The remarks were a reflection on the times we as mediators are living in. I share an adapted version here. “There is no us and them, only us”. These words were uttered here in Edinburgh in…