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Reflective Practice for Mediators

by Jeff Thompson
July 2011

Enjoy Mediation by Jeff Thompson

Jeff Thompson

Being a reflective practitioner is critical to being an effective mediator, ombuds, conflict coach, and any other conflict resolution role. The preceding statement is nothing new- I have said it many times on this blog as well as many others having said it in many other outlets.

A reflective practice can, and should be multi-faceted. Reflecting alone (perhaps by writing in a journal or taking time to review a recently concluded session) is beneficial but I do not think it should be the sole method of reflection. Just as we engage others during our job, engagement should also be a staple to our reflective practice.

I have been gravitating more towards academic research recently (I am currently striving towards a PhD with Griffith University Law School) and as part of my reflective practice, I took time away from my writing on nonverbal communication and mediation to do a brief survey on... well nonverbal communication and mediation!

I think the brief survey has already given me some valuable quantitative data which can (or should!) be further elaborated with qualitative means (that's what my PhD will attempt to do). What this information has allowed me to do is to reflect on various nonverbal elements which has a direct role in me being an effective, or in-effective, mediator. The second step then is after that personal reflection is to then see how it compares to others.

The comparison is not from the mindset of someone being "right" or "wrong" but rather seeing other peoples opinions and thoughts. Here's some quick tidbits:

21 mediators
65% were certified mediators
35% not certified

Mediator's Introduction (n=20)
60% believe it is very important
40% believe it is important

Believe Nonverbal Communication is important for mediators (n=21)
65% very important
35% important

Appearance
68% think a mediator (male) wearing a suit is not appropriate for community mediation (n=19)
100% think a mediator (male) wearing a suit is appropriate for divorce mediation (n=20)

I'll save my interpretations and opinions for another post. I'd much rather hear/read what everyone else has to say.

Enjoy.

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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