For those mediators who read this blog and do not read idealawg, I point you to a blog post by Geoff Sharp: The legal community has learned to accept low-functioning mediation. I linked to it from idealawg today and only occasionally link to one thing from both blogs. Sharp's is an important post so I want to bring it to the attention of as many readers as possible.
The post looks at dialogue between parties to a conflict, and at the very common practice of keeping the parties separated while the mediator shuttles back and forth. Considering the brain and the mind, there are many reasons why the former would be preferable. Just one: The degree of neutrality of the mediator. (I will post others this summer.) We know that the brain is an energy-conserving and often sloppy organ and true neutrality depends upon the mediator's level of self-awareness. Some mediators are very self-aware and thus able to maintain a high degree of conscious neutrality; others are less self-aware and thus may be less neutral. To have the parties in the same room protects everyone.
I also urge you to read the article "Moving Mediation Back Towards Its Historic Roots" written by my old friend Joe McMahon. The article is the focus of Sharp's post and is an important one; it will make you think.