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Musings on the Mediator’s Job

by Tammy Lenski
January 2013

Tammy Lenski's Conflict Zen Blog

Tammy Lenski

I’ve been working my way through research notes for my upcoming book and today came across these excerpts on the mediator’s job from Winslade and Monk’s 2000 classic, Narrative Mediation. If you’re a mediator and you haven’t read it, you ought to. They have several worthy sequels, too.

“If mediation is about creating new meanings in a dispute where existing meanings have become stale or stuck, then deconstructive listening and deconstructive questioning are useful tools in this creative task…The mediator’s task is to unpack the suitcase and take out the pieces and hold them up for view by the parties. This unpacking involving adopting a naive posture and asking questions, not so much about the hidden depths of the suitcase but about the obvious and ordinary aspects of the baggage that comes with the dispute.”

“…the mediator is not listening to the stories people tell with a view to sifting out the facts or the truth from among the details of what people say. Such an aim risks communicating a subtle disrespect for people’s stories. It sets them up as falsehoods gained by personal bias and implies a process of replacing people’s stories with a higher truth based on a more rational objective account. The alternative stance is to listen to people as experts on their own lives.”

Your thoughts?

Biography


Dr. Tammy Lenski helps people resolve conflict in ongoing business and personal relationships and bring their "A" game to difficult conversations. Since founding her NH-based conflict resolution firm Myriaccord LLC in 1997, Tammy has worked with individuals and organizations worldwide as a master mediator, executive coach, speaker, and educator. Author of the award-winning book, Making Mediation Your Day Job, she recently received the Association for Conflict Resolution’s prestigious Mary Parker Follett award for innovative and pioneering work in her field. Her second book, The Conflict Pivot, was released in 2014.

 



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