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<xTITLE>Mind-based mediation: Do you do it to clients or with them?</xTITLE>

Mind-based mediation: Do you do it to clients or with them?

by Stephanie West Allen
November 2008

From Stephanie West Allen's blog on Neuroscience and conflict resolution.

Stephanie West Allen

Caraa People have asked me, "Okay, so I know what the brain is doing during conflict and what my clients need to do in their brains and minds to come to a good resolution of the dispute but how do I get them to do it?" There are many responses to that question but first I usually will ask, "Have you told them what you know about the brain and the mind?" Rarely has the answer been anything but "no."

I find that puzzling. Why wouldn't a conflict professional give his or her clients tools that will help them? This mind-based mediation is not something you do to clients; it is something you do with clients.

When I spoke last Saturday at the Southern California Mediation Association annual conference, I included in my presentation three questions I asked of myself when I began learning about neuroscience. One of those questions was about transparency: Was I going to give this information to clients or use it on them? In discussing my answer, I read a quote I like because it provides what I consider a good take on manipulation. It is from David Maxfield (via Shawn Callahan at Anecdote):

Here is my test for whether a skill is manipulative: “Would it lose its power if people knew exactly what you were doing and why?” If the answer is yes, if the technique loses its power in the light of day, then it’s manipulative and I don’t want any part of it.

This quote tells a piece of why I choose transparency. I certainly am not saying that you have to answer the transparency question so you and I are in agreement. I only recommend that you take some time and thought to ask it of yourself and know the reasons and values behind your response.

Let's end on a related note. How do you define medipulator?

Image credit: anairam_zeravla.


Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar. While in CA, Stephanie completed several five-day mediation training programs with the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as a two-year intensive with Center co-founder Gary Friedman. She has been a mediator for over two and one-half decades.

She is the author of Triversity Fantasy — Seven Keys To Unlock Prejudice, Creating Your Own Funeral or Memorial Service: A Workbook and many articles on workplace and professional issues for such publications as Lawyer Hiring and Training Report, Colorado Nurse, The Complete Lawyer, National Law Journal, Of Counsel, Law Practice and Denver Business Journal.

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