This short article presents accounts of ten mediators about the factors affecting how we handle continuing streams of mediations – our mediation systems. We describe our personal histories, values, goals, motivations, knowledge, and skills as well as the parties and the cases we handle. We develop categories of cases, parties, and behavior patterns that lead us to develop routine procedures before and during mediation sessions and strategies for dealing with recurring challenges. Thus our accounts describe our mediation systems, which differ for different types of cases. Traditional mediation theories influence mediators’ thoughts and actions to some extent – along with many other factors.
The mediators are Debra Berman, Alex Carter, Doug Frenkel, Toby Guerin, Charlie Irvine, Ron Kelly, John Lande, Michael Lang, Sharon Press, and Fran Tetunic.
The mediators’ accounts can be used like data in a small qualitative study. This analysis has the advantages and disadvantages of such studies. The accounts provide deep insights into the mediators and their work – and there are limits to the generalizability, especially considering the amazing variety of mediators, parties, disputes, contexts, and cultures etc.
The article is part of the Real Mediation Systems Project. It is adapted from a forthcoming article in the Cardozo Journal of Conflict Resolution, Real Mediation Systems to Help Parties and Mediators Achieve Their Goals, and summarizes some of the major takeaways.
The mediators who wrote the accounts in this post probably are much more reflective than most mediators. Novice mediators have their own, very simple systems. Many mid-career mediators have more elaborate systems, though some operate mostly “on automatic,” largely unconscious about how and why they mediate as they do.
One goal of this project is to encourage mediators to be more conscious and intentional about their work. The next posts in this series will provide practical tools for instructors and practitioners to use these ideas in their teaching and practice.
The first two posts describe serious conceptual problems for the field and why we should use dispute system design as our central theoretical framework instead of ADR.
Originally published by John Lande in Indisputably
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