My reflections on applied mediation

Devika Sammy posted 1 month ago, 1 Responses
This section gave me much food for thought. I have outlines below my reflections as I went through this part of the training:
In mediation, a neutral third party may not necessarily be what the parties want, for example in a faith-based family mediation session. This bring to the fore the principle of self-determination in mediation.
How can mediation be voluntary when the court orders parties to go to mediation or when it is built into an agreement as a condition for a contract. Persons may not agree with mediation as a recourse, finding it a denial of their legal rights, but may not have a choice in cases where they do not have the power to oppose it. This calls into question the principle of fairness in the process and how important is it to balance power between parties. 
I spend some time reflecting on parties writing their own agreement (perhaps proposed agreements at the start of the session/ submissions, briefs and BATNA/WATNA). I have not spend a lot of time in figuring out exactly how I would like to do this. However, I think some question addressing the areas I outlined in the brackets might be a good starting point.
The mediator’s job is to explore underlying needs behind conflict/ requests so that those needs can be met. The main technique used is deep listening.
Each conflict is unique along with its corresponding agenda.
Steps in the mediation process:
1.	Introductions
2.	Story telling
3.	Responses from each side
4.	Brainstorming
5.	Agreement writing
6.	Evaluating
7.	Closing.
The Alpha and Omega of Mediation
Use only information provided by parties (the question of prior research of issue before mediation for mediator and having all the facts of the issue, reading the file before mediation). 
The mediator\'s job is to create an environment of mutual respect that can lead to mutual understanding between parties. (Focus on self-determination nature of mediation).
Mediator competency to motivate parties to reflect and share may require trust building between parties and perhaps showing the mediator to be human and creating a safe environment to share where persons are encouraged to be positive and not attack each other, build consensus by focusing on what was agreed.
Areas to consider pre-mediation preparation: Needs, Interests and wishes.
Maybe ventilating personal hurts may be good in the story telling phase so that it does not become an invisible barrier to conflict resolution. Using empathy to acknowledge the hurts may allow for some release of pain.

My goals for competency as a mediator:
Diversity in training and cultural exposure
Mindfulness: training, mediator’s diary
Integrity/ Ethical: periodical review of code of ethics and reflections on applications, peer conferencing.
Genuineness: Self-reflections, naming values and reasons for value orientations
Fairness: very high, check biases, perspective taking, understanding others’ challenges, strengths and weaknesses and correcting for unfairness; reflection
Commitment to inclusivity: cultural awareness, current affairs, openness and curiosity to learn about differences.
Curiosity: Not taking positions but asking questions to learn more, sometimes it will aid collaboration and sometimes not. But being curious anyway.
Love of people: loving the differences in people. Caring about their concerns. It makes one more patient and able to listen deeply. Remove self-interest when listening.
Helping orientation: A commitment to providing the support people need to overcome barriers to peace-making. 
Learning Orientation: Being humble enough to admit that I do not know enough. Keeps me seeking out opportunities to grow. 
Growth mindset: Expansive attitude towards learning.
Positivist worldview: Believe that people can get better. Or else I would not be motivated to help. 
Reflective practitioner: reflect before, during and after mediation. Professional peer group.
Problem solver: looking for solutions. Pulling information together to create answers to questions.
Leader: Believe in a cause even without support because sometimes people don’t understand unless I send time and energy telling them why. Not being offended by naysayers. Using negative comments as feedback and being the change. Coaching orientation.
Humanitarian: Human right for peace. Wanting better for humankind.
Listener: We cannot move forward if we do not hear people’s concerns and suggestions 
Observer: Look at patterns to come up with issues. Listen and watch for body language too.
Activist, altruistic, 

Peace Messengers:
Gandhi: non-violence
Martin Luther King Jr.: human rights activist, anti-racist
Nelson Mandela: peacemaker, forgiveness
Mother Theresa: humanitarian activist
John Maxwell: Coach, positivist 
Dr Marshall Rosenberg: non-violent communication
William Ury: Anthropological peace-maker
Mediation is an act of social responsibility rather than evidence of lacking a skill.

Dear Devika,

isn’t it funny …? The very superficial users of the term Mediation talk about neutrality and this is actually the point most difficult to find in mediation, as it is per se a term to put in question.

Imagine, if the Silent Educator taught the mediator and one party similar lessons. Would they match somehow? Would the mediator be influenced by this latent harmony? Would the mediator be able to identify this process of harmonization and keep distance? What would such distance keeping look like when both got the same or similar environmental teachings?

Haha, isn’t life wonderful?

Enjoy your day.

Daniel