Comments: Are Mediators Indoctrinated or Evolving?

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Gillian Brady, Davis CA     03/07/12
I agree with your points, especially the danger of the attorney mediator who falls into the role of the "decider" and simply tells the Parties what to do. True mediation is both much more complicated and much more rewarding for the Parties. Our job as mediators is to keep educating the public and even the professionals in the conflict resolution arena about mediation; what it is and, more importantly perhaps, what it is not! Thank you for the article.

Barbara Wilson, Portsmouth UK     03/07/12
This is a timely article. The discrete expertise of mediators differs from that of experts (from whatever background) who happen also to engage in fora that may only loosely qualify as ‘mediation’. The result is fundamentally different practices, and is not just about semantics. Henry has rightly drawn attention to this point. Mediation needs to be reclaimed from colonisation by other types of dispute management, or strategies which are essentially forms of arbitration.

john settle, Arlington   03/07/12
Mediators "evolving"
Another facet of mediator "evolution," in my experience, is that it is no longer enough to be simply a mediator. Clients have learned enough about mediation & conflict management to want more -- although they know just enough to be dangerous (e.g., by asking for an intervention that may not be the "right fit"). At least in employment/organizational development areas, the mediator needs to have the additional skills and knowledge of -- a facilitator, coach/mentor, conflict management analyst, etc. And the tact and know-how to ask the right questions to uncover, or at least help the client consider, what's really needed in addition to, or instead of, mediation.

Alan Sharland, London     03/06/12
Henry, I totally agree with your delineations of the ways in which many practitioners, particularly those operating under the oxymoron 'evaluative mediation' are not showing a level of understanding of the underlying philosophies and practises of mediation. All of your sample statements by 'mediators' at the end are ones I recognise and have heard and I love your elaborations of what that indicates when a mediator makes such a statement in relation to how they are approaching their 'mediation' practise. I'm forwarding this and sharing it immediately on finishing this message. Thanks. Great article.