The Nature of Mediation

Marvin Garbeh Davis posted 1 year ago, 1 Responses
Short Description of the Mediation Process
Conflict occurs whenever two or more parties believe they have incompatible goals or limited resources. Conflict is inevitable, but is destructive only when the parties cannot resolve their differences. Dispute occurs when parties get “stuck” in their normal methods of resolving conflict. Various processes have been used by people to settle disputes, from informal discussion and problem solving to violent interaction. Mediation is a process that allows the parties to maintain control of the decision ¬making, while utilizing an additional party to help make the process work. 
The intervention of an impartial and neutral third party who had no authoritative decision ¬making power allows the parties to negotiate in a safe climate where all concerns, interests, ideas and information can be heard. The parties are then able to reach their own mutually ¬acceptable settlement of the issues in dispute.  
Mediation often provides a timelier way of resolving disputes, especially when court calendars are so full the hearings are often months apart. This is especially valuable for parties who need to have a continuum relationship, and wish to put the dispute behind them and get on with their lives. Since mediation settlements are mutually agreed upon, parties generally are more satisfied with the solutions compared to those imposed by a third decision maker (e.g., a judge or arbitrator). Finally, parties generally comply with the terms of agreements that were crafted by themselves more often that they do when the terms are imposed upon them by someone else. 
 Mediators can be helpful in dispute resolution when:  The parties’ emotional involvement is intense; communication between the parties has not been effective, and the parties cannot change the situation on their own.
 Mediation begins with the development of a rapport between the parties and the mediator. This allows the mediator to collect and analyze relevant data about the parties that will allow the development of an appropriate strategy. Once the parties are brought together at a mediation session, the mediator assists the parties to broadly define the topic areas of concern, obtain agreement on the issues to be discussed, and determine the sequence of discussion. The mediator establishes the ground rules that will provide the safe environment for the parties to discuss their concerns and interests, and then helps them generate options that would resolve their issues. The mediator then aids the parties to individually and collectively determine interest based criteria that allow assessment of the options. Then, bargaining for a final substantive agreement that best matches the needs of the parties can occur. The final part of the process is the development of a formal agreement that identifies the steps required to achieve the agreement establishes an evaluation and monitoring procedure, and creates an enforcement and commitment mechanism.
 I have used and witness some of the listed points in both conscious and unconscious ways. For instance, I have used the guideline consciously when I have to mediate disputes between my teenage children. Other times, I have used some points in the guideline without thinking about it. It just happens – for instance - when two friends have a conflict and they asked you for your input. 

Here is another type of guideline that shows my understanding of a logical procedure in mediation:
1)	Introductory Remarks
2)	Statement of the Problem
a)	Party A
b)	Party B
3)	Information Gathering
4)	Problem Identification
5)	Bargaining and Generating Options 
6)	Reaching an Agreement

Several points are very important to me:
It is important to understand as a Mediator that obtaining information on the conflict environment is not necessary. The Mediator must work with the information provided by the disputants. 
The Mediator creates, using a combination of problem solving skills, an environment that allows the disputants to show mutual respect for each other. Using different tools, the Mediator also help disputants to recognize their perceptions and decision making processes and see the conflict in a detached fashion.
One of the most important thing I took away is about compromises. In the process of handling the conflict, the Mediator should enable the disputants to exchange views, articulate their needs and their viewpoints in order to unveil the layers of the conflict. Most importantly the Mediator should avoid the disputants to reach compromises as a way of reaching a solution or agreement. If solutions involved compromises, even small compromises, the possibility for the rebirth of the conflict is possible especially if one disputant departs from his position to reach such a compromise.


Here are some of the competencies I find within myself:
•	Ability to communicate
•	Ability to probe and ask meaning questions 
•	Ability to define and clarify issues.
In addition to these competencies, I have great interviewing skills coming from the HR background. However, I need to hone this skill in making sure I can clarify issues that the disputants have so that they can find solution. In HR, my interviewing skills were used to hire the best candidate, to see who would be a good fit for my organization. In Mediation, the interviewing skills should be directed at helping the disputants to find a common ground.

I also need to always improve my listening skills. Of all our communication skills, listening is the one most called upon but most neglected. Sometimes I hear something and before I know it-, I have labeled, categorized and shelved it. If I don’t take anything from this online course, I want to take away Mindful Listening.

I think competence in Mediation depends partly on the context of the dispute and the expectations of the parties. It also depends on whether the Mediator has the right mix of acquired skills, training, education and experience and natural ability to help resolve the specific dispute. 

Task 4
My reflection on the Song – We are the World (Song and Video) Michael Jackson
I have watched the video before but not as intentional as I did. Maybe because it stems from the fact that you asked me to take a moment to listen to the lyrics. I also watched the video while listening. I think it was surreal. It was beautiful having all these singers coming together to share their talent for a good cause. The song is amazing and I believe everyone should look into their hearts and see the interconnectedness of our humanity. We can then use our places, our positions, our wealth, our education etc. to make the world a better place. 
The downside of the video is that all the singers in the video have lots of money but have not made significant contributions to changing the world. If they feel that all of us are world, they should begin to invest in their communities and backyards and make that change through their wealth.
     They worked hard for their money so they should keep it and spend it selfishly right? Wrong. In my opinion if you’re lucky enough to have been blessed with a talent, and you have made money from it, you should use it for good causes not selfish ones. No one needs a 5-million-dollar house or 4 cars (Michael Jackson for instance had a car for each day of the week) to themselves when there are people starving, or don’t even have clean water!
Well just my thoughts!
Desmond Tutu
Desmond Tutu was a South African Civil Rights leader. He worked to end South Africa\'s strict racial segregation policy, known as apartheid.. Tutu describes the apartheid system as \"evil and unchristian.\" Desmond Tutu formulated his objectives for a democratic and just society without racial division and for everyone to have equal rights. He set forward these following points: the abolition of South Africa\'s passport laws, a common system of education, the cessation of forced deportation from South Africa to the so-called \"homelands\" and equal rights.
What impresses me most is how one individual who is well off in human terms would sacrifice HIS life in ensuring that others are treated with human dignity.

Martin Luther King
Drawing inspiration from both his Christian faith and the peaceful teachings of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr. King led a nonviolent movement in the late 1950’s and ‘60s to achieve legal equality for African-Americans in the United States. While others were advocating for freedom by “any means necessary,” including violence, Martin Luther King, Jr. used the power of words and acts of nonviolent resistance, such as protests, grassroots organizing, and civil disobedience to achieve seemingly-impossible goals. He went on to lead similar campaigns against poverty and international conflict, always maintaining fidelity to his principles that men and women everywhere, regardless of color or creed, are equal members of the human family.
Leymah Gbowee
Liberian peace activist Gbowee was a driving force for the women\'s movement that helped end the second Liberian Civil War in 2003. As a result of staged pray-ins, nonviolent protests and peace-talks led by Gbowee and other women coalitions, Liberian president and warlord Charles Taylor went into exile. The most intriguing thing about Gbowee’s advocacy is that Charles Taylor did not only inspire fear, he got rid of his perceived enemies. Gbowee continued her advocacy among women in spite of the threat to her life.

Here is a list of few persons I know that had the official mandate of their people to manage conflict both nationally and internationally.

1.	Nelson Mandela
Harvard Law School recently named Nelson Mandela as one of the best negotiators in history. He was well known for his patience, strategic thinking, practicality, and unwillingness to quit. He was able to make concessions, but refused to back down from what he thought was most important. In negotiating with a government that prized violence and resistance, Mandela brought a quiet resolve. This led to an uncanny ability to persuade his adversaries, one that was unmatched in the 20th century.

2.	Theodore Roosevelt
Teddy Roosevelt is well known for many things; his “Citizen in a Republic Speech” is one of the most famous in American history. He also famously delivered a 90-minute speech soon after he was shot by an innkeeper in 1912. “It takes more than that to kill a bull-moose,” he reassured his audience, referring to the name of his Progressive independent party.
Roosevelt was just that – as stubborn as a bull-moose, unwilling to budge on the issues that were important to him. He also was famed for his soft side – in fact, his act of mercy toward a wounded black bear on a hunting trip made him the subject of jokes in the press and led to the creation of the “Teddy Bear.”
3.	Henry Kissinger
Members of the Nixon administration will go down in history for many things, but few of them are positive. Henry Kissinger, however, is the notable exception. In his capacity of Secretary of State and National Security Advisor to both the Nixon Administration and Ford Administration, Kissinger weathered adversity and came out on top. From establishing diplomatic relations with China to diffusing geopolitical tensions with the Soviet Union, his actions ushered in peace in a time of American discord.

The following Peace Makers and Conflict Managers altered the course of global history, whether through toppling evil governments or preventing potential war. Though we may not think about it often, these three conflict managers prevented bloodshed and ushered in eras of peace, both in America and around the world.

Dear Marvin,

thank you once again. Please check your email account as I resent my comments on your previous report.

I think it is very important that you find your own key to the mediation process and procedure. Practising mediation, it is at least my experience, that the mediator runs the risk to cut off the positive flow a party or both may have by keeping to a fixed model. How could a mediation concept look like without putting chains on it?

BR, Daniel