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Interfaith Mediation

by Jeff Thompson
May 2011

From Jeff Thompson's Enjoy Mediation Blog

Jeff Thompson

My two main job professions is working in mediation/conflict resolution and law enforcement. One of my primary tasks working as a Detective in the NYPD is doing interfaith work the many different religious groups in New York City.

Something I have long been working to do in this capacity is bring together the mediation community and the interfaith community together as both sides can work together to increase the use of communication as a means of reducing and preventing conflict.

It is still something that I consider a work-in-progress, and was happily surprised to find the following article of the work being done in Pittsburgh:

Zen centers are supposed to epitomize calm, but there was anguish at a national Zen meeting last year as devotees reacted to sexual misconduct scandals involving prominent monks.

The Rev. Kyoki Roberts, head priest of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh, was as appalled by some of the responses as by the abuse itself. "I heard a Zen Buddhist teacher use the word 'vitriolic' to describe the victims," she said.

Rev. Roberts, who was a professional mediator before becoming a priest, knows that congregations of all faiths tear themselves apart after a scandal involving a trusted leader. Certain that there are ways to prevent that, she returned to Pittsburgh and founded An Olive Branch. It is dedicated to the prevention of misconduct in the wake of accusations

..."Our mediations were volatile. We were literally telling people to check their guns at the door. But we had a 98 percent success rate," she said.

Their success came from identifying and addressing deeper concerns behind the issue that people were fighting over, she said. If a group is torn over whether to keep a door opened or closed, they aren't really fighting about the door -- one group may have health concerns about an overheated building while another has safety concerns about who might walk through the door. Only when health and safety are addressed can a decision be made about the door.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/11087/1135290-53.stm#ixzz1K9zSPOaP

Biography


Jeff Thompson, Ph.D., is a professor at Lipscomb University, researcher, mediator, and trainer. He is also involved in crisis and hostage negotiation as well as a law enforcement detective. His research includes law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation in terrorist incidents. He received his doctorate from Griffith University Law School having researched the impact nonverbal communication has in conflict situations with respect to developing rapport, building trust, and displaying professionalism.

Dr. Thompson has presented and trained on the topic of conflict, mediation, (crisis and hostage) negotiation, communication and nonverbal communication internationally for a variety of audiences including police personnel, government officials, judges, attorneys, physicians, sales people, business professionals, and both graduate and undergraduate students. He has also been published in numerous professional and academic publications.

He is the co-chair of ACR's national Crisis Negotiation Section, and he is an ad-hoc reviewer for multiple academic journals. He received his MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from the Werner Institute, Creighton University School of Law.

(All posts by Jeff Thompson represent his personal reflections and opinions and not that of any organization.)



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