"There is a dimension to the practice of mediation that has received insufficient attention: the combination of psychological, intellectual, and spiritual qualities that make a [mediator] who he or she is. . . . Indeed, this . . . may be one of the most potent sources of the effectiveness of mediation.
--Daniel Bowling and David A. Hoffman, Bringing Peace Into the Room: How the Personal Qualities of the Mediator Impact the Process of Conflict Resolution
Asclepius, the Greek god of medicine and healing, had five daughters. For conflict resolution professionals, two of his daughters represent different roles these professionals can play with clients. Daughter Hygieia represented maintenance of good health and the prevention of sickness. Her sister Panacea represented cure from sickness. Hygieia was preventative; Panacea was curative. Both roles have a place in dispute resolution.
As I am sure both Hygieia and Panacea know, the reactive brain can lead to unhealthy conflict just as the reflective mind can facilitate healthy conflict—and resolution. Noticing the reactive and reflective gives us a way of looking at who is in a conflict. For the Neuroscience of Conflict Resolution seminar, I created a diagram to clarify the various combinations of parties to the dispute. (Click on the diagram to make it larger.)
In the seminar we look at conflicts between
- people interacting with their reactive brains
- people interacting with their reflective minds, and
- reactive brains interacting with reflective minds.
Each results in a different quality of dispute and method of resolution.
Self-awareness is a requisite for using one's reflective mind. (In the seminar, I present a top ten list of practices to improve and strengthen self-awareness.) A self-aware person will likely experience fewer