Cris M. Currie has been a mediator and conflict management trainer since 1987. He holds a Master of Arts degree in conflict resolution from Antioch University. He co-designed the Certificate in Conflict Management program at Eastern Washington University and teaches courses in conflict resolution, negotiation, and mediation. He is a founder and former director of the Dispute Resolution Center of Spokane County, and a former president of the Washington Mediation Association. He is also a practicing home health registered nurse in Spokane, WA.
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Articles and Video:
Mediating Off the Grid
The debate over “evaluative” versus “facilitative” mediation is now largely between attorney-mediators and mediators who are not attorneys. Those on both sides of this divide are becoming ever more frustrated with the divisive labeling. Leonard Riskin tried to help resolve the issue with his well-known “grid for the perplexed.” Instead of creating clarity, the grid, in my view, has led to even greater confusion. The problem is that it provides no guidance as to how mediation could or should be done, or how it will be done by any particular mediator. Therefore, it provides little help with decision making about the selection of a mediator. Nevertheless, and this is most troubling, the grid has been widely used to support and legitimize several questionable forms of mediation practice.
Connecting Neurobiology and Mediation
Recent research in neurobiology, as summarized in Synaptic Self: How Our Brains Become Who We Are by Joseph LeDoux, has some very important implications for mediation.
Should We Negotiate with Terrorists?
While it may seem that those of us in the field of conflict resolution have had little to say since September 11, 2001, professional negotiators have not been silent on the subject of terrorism. Roger Fisher addressed this very question in the second edition of Getting To Yes, and in January of 1992, the Negotiation Journal published a special issue called Reflections on the War in the Persian Gulf. The insights found in these publications are just as valid in the aftermath of the World Trade Center attack as they were for the terrorism of the 1980s and early 90s.
When Interest-Based Bargaining Is Not Enough
What good is identifying interests if once they are identified, they are beyond one’s ability to
comprehend? How can parties whose motivation is based on completely different moral
values negotiate the termination of hostilities? Two recent works, one readily available and
the other relatively inaccessible, attempt to shed some light on the complex subject of
seemingly intractable human conflict.
Transformation To What?
As we mediators struggle to find the right words to define our personal styles of mediation,
descriptors such as transformative, facilitative, and problem-solving are appearing more
and more. Baruch Bush and Joe Folger made a strong case for these distinctions in their
influential book The Promise of Mediation, but it would be prudent to remember that this
book was written more as a dialogue opener than as a definitive treatise on mediation styles.
Should A Mediator Also Be An Attorney?
Among the more hotly debated issues concerning appropriate
qualifications for mediators is the question as to whether it is preferable for mediators to also be lawyers.