Section: B) - Syllabus 2

Anna Gazdag posted 4 months ago, 1 Responses
Section “B” is about the nature of mediation. 
The role and right choice of a mediator is explained by stating that a mediator shouldn’t judge or “solve” the situation, instead should be a trusted third party that helps the parties in dispute solve their problem. A mediator is also responsible to keep an eye on the legal consequences of the resolution, which can happen in a form of consulting a legal professional. It is crucial to understand the conflict in its complexity otherwise the final agreement probably won’t be the right fit and the dispute will go on after a while. This also means to make sure that the parties understand each other perfectly, so when a similar situation would emerge between them again, they would already have a clear understanding of each others motives and they would have the tools to reach a mutual agreement. Understanding each other requires from both parties and the mediator mutual respect, listening, time and energy invested into reaching the common goal which is to establish peace between the parties.

After laying down the foundation of mediation the text goes on by explaining the alpha and omega of mediation. The mediator works with the information provided by the parties and works on finding the right information with(in) the parties. In order for the process to bring positive change all negative inputs should be excluded. In this section I find it really important to listen to every tiny detail even if it seems unrelated to the conflict at first sight and to exclude negative input. The little details might be crucial when we look at the bigger picture. One tiny thing might piss off someone and they will bring up a completely different reason to be pissed off, just because for instance that is more socially acceptable. The negative inputs are destructive to the process of mediation so they should not be included to make the process more focused hence more efficient.

Next, the competences of a mediator are explained. He or she should be the stable person in the middle by being calm, confident and mature and the one emotion that a mediator should emphasise is empathy. A mediator is meant to bring peace and to do it tirelessly one needs not only a conscious decision but an inner call. My greatest strength might also be my greatest weakness when it comes to mediation. I am overly empathic and I am not sure if I can always manage that when I need to stay focused on the goal of creating understanding instead of advocating for one party or the other. I also sometimes have a hard time putting aside my own believes and principles which makes it impossible for me to mediate between myself and others that I have conflicts with, because I am blinded by my conviction even if I try to understand the other person.

Public peace messengers are for instance Charlize Theron who fights violence against women, Leonardo di Caprio who often speaks on the consequences human life has on our environment, Steve Wonder who speaks to educate on civil and human rights and to improve the lives of those less fortunate and Malala Yousafzai who won a noble peace prize and became the youngest UN peace messenger for fighting for girls all over the world being able tolerant and become great role models. They inspire me with their tireless efforts and determination to make the world a better place even by changing one tiny aspect of it.

In the final part of this section conflict management is described as a diverse and multidimensional activity. The conflict manager lately heard from in the media is Matthew Nimetz who worked on the Macedonia naming dispute for more than two decades and finally reached an agreement. 

To summarize the conflict management procedure I continue with my observations regarding the topic. I find it really important to make sure that the mediator reflects on her own opinion about the conflict before the process of mediation starts and separates her personal point of view from the facts and emotions of the parties in dispute. The mediator’s opinion can be very dominant in judging a situation that she is not a part of unless she consciously disregards her personal believe system, principles and interests. Instead she needs to concentrate on the above listed aspects and keep this distinction in mind during peace making.
Keeping the above explained principle in mind it is essential not to confuse private and professional opinion. Even if a mediator brings some of her professional opinion into her mediation process it must stay neutral and only aiming to reach an agreement in the end. This solution must be defined by the parties and the mediator is in no position to express approval or disapproval which is mentioned in the chapter specifically.
In my opinion it is also crucial to point out when one of the parties is abusing the mediation process in anyway. It might happen in a small segment of the conversation in the form of manipulation, but it can possibly be more diverse and more detrimental than that. In this case it doesn’t only damage the mediation process and lowers the chance of an agreement, but also undermines the efforts of the mediator hence it is the right of the mediator to speak up against it, or decide on the consequences in case it’s been stated before the process began that such behavior might lead to the termination of the mediation itself.
The process and the participants (including the mediator) need to be as flexible as possible in order to reach common grounds. While a mediator might act as dental braces for crooked teeth when she tries to lead the parties back to parallel mind-sets she can never disregard their individuality and their comfort zones. Unfortunately, my real-life experience has been that when people have problems with each other, it might even be an open conflict but most of the time they ask people for advice who don’t know both parties and their situations on the same level. It leads to an uneven situation where the “mediator” is appointed by the pure circumstance of one party’s trust. This mediator is listening to a story from only one perspective and tries to imagine the other side and giving advice based on assumptions. This can either be helpful or even more damaging than doing nothing. My impression in these situations has been that the other party either didn’t know me that well (hence didn’t trust me) or didn’t want to acknowledge the conflict in a way of discussing it openly.

It is difficult to identify and even harder to define but if I had to put it into words, to me mediation is something that floats amongst people who can never truly step outside of their singular aspect of the world and they still try to do so in order to ease the pain of the struggling parties. Their only tool in this impossible mission is communication and they are mostly driven by selfless motives and maybe a little curiosity.

Dear Anna,

focussing on the details is great. As you said, such details can be a visual point of a huge field of interest. And yes, going into details requires a lot of time, sometimes almost endless time, but it is also a healing process for the parties, and could cause a new level of harmony between the parties.

Oh my God, you truly break my heart with these wonderful words: ‘It is difficult to identify and even harder to define but if I had to put it into words, to me mediation is something that floats amongst people who can never truly step outside of their singular aspect of the world and they still try to do so in order to ease the pain of the struggling parties. Their only tool in this impossible mission is communication and they are mostly driven by selfless motives and maybe a little curiosity.’

I am truly moved,

Daniel