Dan McLean, Helena MT 09/03/04
Robert's article is important stuff. I had the distinct privilege and good fortune to receive training from Robert recently -- I came away very encouraged about my prospects of extending my Trust and Esates legal practice experience to resolving disputes among families in turmoil over inherited property, which often is a disguise for more deep-seated personal issues.
My legal experience confirms what Robert emphasizes in this article -- credentials are much less important than genuine personal engagement. That applies in all aspects of our personal as well as professional lives. Thanks Robert.
Bruce Cropper, Auckland, New Zealand firstname.lastname@example.org 08/24/04
After more than three decades in the law, I have moved to mediation and beyond to formal counselling, mainly of couples. I can relate to Robert's "professional schizophrenic" feeling. Former legal colleagues may regard me as "flaky" and counsellors as "legalistic" and rational.
I believe that Robert has, if anything, understated the situation, and we are drowning under a weight of bureaucratic language and requirements. The question is becoming increasingly not whether a mediator is competent and/or effective, but whether s/he has documentation to "prove" competency. Learning *about* mediation is (in my opinion) a poor second to experiencing the mediation process, and constantly learning from the process itself. Furthermore, to have done X mediations is not a guarantee of skill and ability. What is important is what the mediator learned and incorporated from doing those mediations. That I suggest is where some of the "tacit knowing" is generated - much of it will have its origins in all of life experience.
We have a largely unsolved problem, namely a lack of objective means of measuring the extent of a person's "gut" abilities.
John , Berkeley CA 01/27/04
Included is the comment Robert was responding to, it is out of sequence due to Editorial modification. See Below.
"Person X Was charged with assulting person Y. X was sentenced to 2 years probation, and community service hours. She is currently trying to obtain mediation courses to become a mediator. Should a person who was convicted of assult be allowed to work in the courts or with people who are involved with the law? "
Editors comment: This is an interesting question and aptly responded to by Robert, however this is not a place to point out specific persons. I have removed names.
Benjamin r.d., Portland OR email@example.com 01/27/04
In response to Myrna, Absolutely. Someone with a criminal record might be a very effective mediator, appreciating the dynamics of conflict at a 'gut level'. Of course, the mediator has an affirmative responsibility to have some sense of the sources of her personal responses to conflict and may, in appropriate cases, have the duty to disclose her background, if there is any potential or real risk to that fact contaminating the mediation process.
María Marta Neumann, Buenos Aires,Argentina firstname.lastname@example.org 02/13/03
Call it gut instinct, intuition or even "passion"...to me as essential in mediation and negotiation as any other credentials, or maybe even more! "Passion" understood as true engagement and full presence in the process; a "head" issue as much as a deep and full connection with our whole self. I´m Latin American after all !!
"NO THEORY CAN TAKE THE PLACE OF GUT INSTINCT".Great article Professor Benjamin!!
Christine Passnick, Kingston On email@example.com 01/10/03
A very good article....not too long ago I read an article in a local newspaper, the Napanee Beaver, where a man who was celebrating his 107th birthday was interviewed....the jist of what this wise elder said was:
"What we need is a little less education, and a little more common sense"
How true this is, particularly in the mediation profession.
Georg , Banja Luka BA 04/22/02
Dear Mr. Benjamin,
I liked your article on mediation. In Germany the courts at all levels have to practise it (otherwise they would be unable to do their work). The advocates like it because the fees grow 1/3 (this the happy patient comes to know later).At the labour courts in Germany the first meeting is an obligatory ADR session, having a success rate of over 50 %.
There is no doubt that the capacity for practising ADR needs many years of experience. There are also cultural aspects. In Asia the ADR is performed by the parents of the quarreling parties. In Catholic or Jewish communities the religious leader is often practising ADR. Myself I had only few positive results.
All in all ADR is something very very old and should get more attention today.
Geoff Sharp, Wellington, New Zealand firstname.lastname@example.org 04/07/02
Ahhhh.... a fellow traveller at last. Great article, any more?