The third edition of Party-Directed Mediation: Facilitating Dialogue between Individuals is now on-line as a free PDF download. This controversial book explains two mediation models in depth. The first model is used to deal with conflicts among peers; the second, disputes between superiors and subordinates. As a result, it makes for an ideal book on workplace mediation. Party Directed Mediation (PDM) is an effort to present practical, sound, research-based ideas hopefully leading to the improved management of deep-seated interpersonal conflict, supervisor-subordinate conflict, and multiethnic conflict.
The book also contains chapters on empathic listening skills as well as interpersonal negotiation skills. The book clarifies the difference between empathic listening and active listening, as well as suggestions as to when to use each approach. The interpersonal negotiation skills chapter is directed to your clients, who may benefit from reading it as preparation before their mediations. There is a new section on both confronting others when we have a difference in opinion or concern, as well as responding without defensiveness when we feel attacked. The book is written in an easy to read style and includes lots of transcribed audio and video clips.
One of the appendices covers the literature on the pros-and-cons of caucusing and pre-caucusing. PDM makes use of pre-caucusing with the idea that in the joint session the parties will mostly speak to each other. Pre-caucusing continues to be a potentially dangerous procedure (putting in doubt mediator impartiality) unless it is coupled with a joint session where parties are prepared to talk directly to each other with little mediation interference, as we see in PDM. This approach provides for a positive and elegant use of the pre-caucus in a transformative setting—with a reduction of the associated dangers. This is because the mediator truly plays a support role in the joint session and most of the work is carried out in the pre-caucus, preparing the parties to speak and listen to each other.
I was invited to be a co-presenter at the 2013 ABA Dispute Resolution Section, Spring Conference, in Chicago. At my request, my colleague suggested a number of references on more traditional mediation approaches. I really enjoyed Anatomy of a Mediation. I am now reading The Practice of Mediation (2nd edition), truly a superb book which I will widely recommend. In the latter, despite a suggestion that relational conflicts are not covered, there are plenty of relational issues involved. Traditional mediators—who continue to be weary of pre-caucusing—would benefit by employing skilled individuals who could provide parties with: (1) empathic listening and (2) interpersonal negotiation skills coaching. These services could be contributed by someone other than the case mediator. Providing listening and coaching pre-mediation services to parties would likely: (1) delay premature caucusing, (2) reduce the total amount of time required for caucusing, and (3) improve the communication between parties during the joint session and after. The 3rd edition of PDM has much to offer even to traditional mediators.
PDM is especially useful for relational issues and requires more time than traditional mediation, but is particularly well suited to volunteer mediators, intercultural conflicts when issues of saving face are important, and other conflicts in which emotional factors are high. This approach is especially geared to help parties who will continue to live or work together after the mediator leaves, and where parties need to learn interpersonal negotiation skills for handling future differences.
The third edition is full of photographs, refinements, and new information. Download here. It is provided as a public service of the University of California.