As Chip and Dan Heath describe in their book Switch: How to Change Things When Change is Hard, we are rational beings with a “Rider” that logically analyzes our surroundings. Our Rider tries to direct our emotional side, “the Elephant.” Although we like to think our Rider is in control at all times, in truth,…

Try this thought experiment: imagine a mediator without empathy. How and what would they do? Would there be drawbacks? Benefits? The response to these questions probably depends on our own experience of empathy. This simple yet often misunderstood term masks a complex and fascinating set of ideas about human connection. Because we believe empathy is…

It was a comment made a few months ago and it has stayed with me: “But Anna, mediators are all tree-huggers.” There have been many variants of this type in response to my answer to the very English question: “So, what do you do?” These comments continue to irk me. Finally, as this year draws…

A whole day of mediation without a “joint meeting”. The only time the lawyers met was to begin drafting the settlement agreement. The experts played no part. The day before, the principals had exchanged correspondence deprecating perceived personal insults directed at professional advisers which, it was felt, had damaged reputations. This was a long-running commercial…

Have you ever wondered who mediators are helping? The parties, obviously! Well, not so obvious to our critics. In this blog I consider worries about mediation’s approach to manifest injustice before making the case for understanding the mediator as co-creator, with the parties, of outcomes. I argue that co-creation enhances the prospects for justice. Stories…

It’s that time of year again! Mediation Awareness Week is about to kick off in Ireland, the UK and many other countries around the world. An enormous range of activities are being held to draw the attention of members of the public to mediation and its potential for resolving disputes. In Ireland alone these include…

The Olympics have come and gone with all of the emotion and inspiration they bring. In our recent, fully-subscribed, residential Summer School on mediation skills for leaders, we reflected on the learning from Rio. We watched a video replay of the men’s taekwondo -80kg final in which Team GB’s Lutalo Muhammad lost to his Ivory…

Despite some scepticism about the value of “roleplay” most mediation training involves asking people to run a pretend mediation session. I’ve tried various euphemisms to ease trainees’ anxiety – “skills practice”, “simulation”, “sitting with conflict” – but none seems to make it any less daunting. You can read about this activity, watch others do it,…

  Perhaps we shouldn’t be too surprised by the whole Brexit affair. I’m not talking about the result of the vote itself, but about the referendum process, the behaviour it engendered, and its aftermath. All the classic features were present. Classic features of what? Well, of binary processes. Those that offer a win/lose, yes/no, remain/leave…