More About Mediation


Ground Rules for Mediation

These are the rules I propose at the outset of every mediation. Ground rules keep the discussion focused, respectful and constructive. Getting the parties to agree to these core values makes everyone feel safer and it protects the process. Perhaps even more important, it aligns the parties in an agreement, which gets the mediation off to a good start. Sometimes the parties themselves have other ideas they want to add, and this is fine. I have framed my ground rules as an acronym, REAL, to make them easy for me to present and easy for the parties to remember:

Respect

Use a conversational tone of voice

Refrain from using insulting body language (e.g. rolling eyes, turning away)

No name-calling, put-downs, insults or sarcasm

Take turns, avoid interrupting

Effort

Have an open mind and an open heart

Recognize that there is no “microwave” solution to a complex issue

Authenticity

Be as honest as you know how to be about the facts

Be as honest as you know how to be about your feelings and reactions

Listening

Listen more than you talk

Listen to understand rather than merely to rebut or refute

Remember that understanding does not necessarily equal agreement

Conflict Coaching

I work one-on-one with parties who, for whatever reason, are unable to mediate a conflict situation or a conflictual relationship. Together we can explore the kinds of changes you are hoping for, what is working, and what isn't working. Conflict can be seen as a dance. If you change your step, your conflict partner will have to move differently too! Only you know what this might look like. My job is to help you discover and hone it for maximum results.

Facilitation

I am available to facilitate meetings of workplace teams, schools, non-profits, and community agencies. Sometimes groups develop bad habits. For example, they succumb to inertia, or allow a small number of members to dominate, or fall into disrespectful or ineffectual patterns of communication. I help the membership to re-align themselves with their mission, decide together how things can be improved, and embrace behaviors that can help the group functioning more effectively and fairly.

Peer Mediation Training

I train and coach school kids (older elementary age through high school) to be mediators. I feel that in this way I can contribute towards a more mediation-friendly future while helping create a better present. My students, once trained, have the skills to help their peers when conflicts occur within the school setting. I work closely with the administration and faculty sponsor to tailor a program that works for the school. Ideally, a student participates for two years, so I work with students in the two highest grades at a given school. My program is presented in two parts:

Part One: Conflict Education

I prefer to present this part of the training to all the students in the pool of eligible mediators. Most kids haven't had the opportunity to view conflict from a theoretical standpoint, and it's not always obvious at the outset which students have an aptitude for mediation. I try to get them thinking about all kinds of disputes: in the family, in the community, on the world stage. They begin to understand that conflict is natural and inevitable. I also present the students with tools for handling conflict situations: what are some options besides the primal "fight or flight" response? The general theme of this phase of the training is that conflict is altogether normal and that it can be an opportunity rather than a nuisance. 

Part Two: Peer Mediation Training

I offer the second part of the training to those kids who decide they want to learn how to be Peer Mediators at their school. Once the training has been completed, I work with school staff to ensure the ongoing success of the program. Periodically, I meet with Peer Mediators for a brown bag lunch during which trainees can ask questions, present case studies for discussion, and otherwise develop their expertise.