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…

This entry is an ongoing series focused on using Neuro-Linguistic Programming in our practice of amicable dispute resolution. For ease of reference and the convenience of readers, I will list in this and subsequent entries the series and links to it. 1. A Neuro-Linguist’s Toolbox – A Starting Point and Building Rapport In this, the…

In 1933 Alfred Korzybski wrote: “A map is not the territory it represents, but, if correct, it has a similar structure to the territory, which accounts for its usefulness.” More recently (2006), James Robertson wrote (to reference him once again, this time from ‘The Testament of Gideon Mack’): “We trust in maps because when we…

While I am watching hailstones the size of peas fall in the West of Ireland, a good number of my colleagues are celebrating the culmination of the ICC’s Mediation Competition in Paris, where in excess of 60 teams of mediators and negotiators compete to resolve disputes through mediation. The relevance of this to today’s blog…

More than 1,400 years ago, Japan codified Confucian and Buddhist approaches to governing in Prince Shotoku’s Constitution, whose first article provides that “[h]armony should be valued, and quarrels should be avoided.” The underlying principle, wa (harmony), was promoted and reflected in the fabric of Japanese society and may have contributed to a persistent preference for…

This post is based on the research of two professional communities – mediators and dialogue facilitators – in Ukraine (see the research article) and poses a few preliminary questions that require deeper thinking and more research. Although the fieldwork for my article was done in Ukraine, I was told that similar developments are also noticeable…

At the start of another year, it can be useful to conduct a bit of a personal stock-take. What holds us back from achieving all we could this year? How many of us suffer from silent self-doubt? How many of us would admit to feelings of inadequacy, anxiety and uncertainty about what we do? Far…

“It was impossible to get a good conversation going; everybody was talking too much. ” Yogi Berra I use the word “odd” here in two of its meanings in English: odd as in occasional or sporadic; and odd as in strange, worthy of comment. This blog is a reflection on recent conversations observed or engaged…

During Lex Infinitum, the international commercial mediation competition for students at V.M. Salgaocar College of Law in Goa, India, there was a lively and entertaining debate, in the best debating-society tradition. The motion was: “The Role of the Mediator Is Overrated.” Arguing this in front of a hundred and fifty students, mediators, lawyers and academics…

Mediation existed in the Middle East hundreds of years ago. In fact, the notion of deferring to a neutral and objective third-party for a decision towards the resolution of a dispute is well steeped in Arabic/Islamic traditions. For example, one of the most famous stories of Prophet Muhammad’s early life is that of him being…