Comments: Making The Best Of Mediation: From Breakfast To Bedrooms And Beyond

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Alan , Rochester NY   10/07/12
I understand the reluctance of some mediators of using the term omni-partial to describe their work. In the restorative justice community it is perhaps a bit more fitting as we look at our work as supporting all persons engaged in conflict situations in a process focused on repairing harm. Our challenge is to guide all sides in conversations which repair harm all the while guarding against participants from harming each other in the process. Participants only enter into the process when they trust the facilitator to be supportive of them and have confidence in them to guide the process. So whether it is empathetic impartiality or omni-partial facilitation we may be talking about the same thing. (Omni- a Latin prefix meaning "all" or "every.")

Philip Hesketh, Manchester UK   02/09/10
pre-drafting agreements
I agree that the lawyers really should put effort into drafting the agreement before the mediation. I don't think this is putting the cart before the horse. I ask the lawyers before hand to consider what the final agreement might look like and bring along a draft. OK they won't know what numbers to put in but they can work on more technical clauses so that we're not still at the mediation drafting three hours after agreement was reached.

Antony Sendall, London     02/09/10
"Multi-Partial" and "Omni-Partial"
An interesting and thought provoking article. However, I almost stopped reading when I reached the expression "multi-partial". I have noticed its occasional use by mediators along with another truly ghastly expression "omni-partial". Insofar as I can grasp meaning from them, I think the writers intend to convey empathetic impartiality. I really struggle with the concept of being on more than one side at the same time. Surely, a mediator is never on the side of any of the participants let alone on the side of all of them at the same time? One needs to understand and to be seen to be at least empathetic to the plight of all participants, but is it really helpful for a participant to believe, even for a moment, that the mediator is actually on their side ? If I struggle with the idea of omni-partiality, I am fairly confident that most particpants in a mediation would hate the idea that sometimes (or perhaps implicitly all of the time) the mediator is actually batting for both teams. To my, possibly rather simple mind, there are really only two possible states partiality and impartiality. Multi-partiality and omni-partiality are essentially oxymoronic, except perhaps to those who also subscribe to omniscience and omnipresence - but I thought those were attributes more commonly ascribed to divine superbeings rather than mediators ! [pause while everyone reading this thinks of a mediator or two with a slight tendency to believe they are such a deity] If anyone wants to explain either of these expressions, "multi-partial" or "omni-partial" in a way that makes sense of the concept, I am always only too eager to learn. In the meantime I am going to plug away at doing my utmost to be empathetic but impartial. So, having lit the blue touchpaper, I shall now retire to a safe distance to watch the fireworks...

Dan , Dublin GA   02/08/10
Refreshing Crossing of the Lines of Convention
Thank you for the innovative entry into the process of mediation. The breakfast idea sounds interesting. Your brief treatment of several helpful topics in list and comment fashion makes for easy reading. Best wishes for continuing success on your side of the Atlantic and elsewhere according to opportunities that may open.