musings (Oct 04)
SUMMARY... John Paul Lederach's
keynote was one of the best I've heard on any subject, period.
This and the panel on Righting Unrightable
Wrongs opened possibilities for those who wonder, "Yes, but
what can I do about all this?"
ideas resonated with me, two from speakers drawing on their aboriginal
heritage. The third arose from reflection on how transformative
mediation is a meaningful signpost for a profession at a self-admitted
mediation has deep roots in spirit. One might well
consider mediators to be those through whom spirit moves while they
work. Kalani Souza observed of that magical moment, that turning
point in a mediation when the parties decide they want to understand
each other, want to reach an agreement, “You can’t tell
me spirit isn’t there.” Afterward, Souza agreed with
me that other aboriginal healing practices, including shamanism,
can complement and inform the work of mediation.
many aboriginal cultures' traditional approaches to conflict resolution
have much to offer. Robert
Yazzie's presentation emphasized that these approaches have
survived for centuries because they satisfy profound human needs
for reconcilation and healing that many judicial processes do not.
mediation may be poised for growth. Several conference
sessions pondered what might help people to better understand the
ways that mediators can be vital resources (see below). The transformative
model describes the goal of mediation as "to help people have
a conversation." As third-party roles go, that description
is remarkably unburdened with objectives of settlement or other
expectations. It has intrinsic appeal to people who are considering
mediation for the first time, but are uncertain of what might happen
if they involve a third party in their situation. In other words,
come on out, let's talk, see what happens. The term "conversation"
itself -- a natural kind of interaction for nearly everyone -- is
relatively un-threatening word that can suggest, even to someone
skeptical of mediation, "Well, how bad could THAT be?"
-- and GOALS -- THAT MEET THE NEED
the profession?" was a recurring theme, and a question is consistent
with advice I got when learning about this work: "Honey, keep
your day job". Why haven't conflict resolvers been
eagerly sought out in the post-9/11 world? "This is not about
a marketing shortfall; rather, we don’t have product that
meets the needs," said Bernard Mayer. More>>
people instinctively believe that neutral third parties can help
them get what they want? Many people would prefer not to admit that
they'd like a playing field tilted in their favour. Speakers noted
roles other than "3rd party" for which people might more
eagerly turn to mediators: advocate, coach, or process designer.
ready are members of this profession to hear what people in communities
want, rather than to assume what we think they need? Lederach and
Mayer, among others, noted that resolution of conflict isn't always
what people want. Sometimes, people need to explore or deepen the
conflict; sometimes to halt it temporarily, to get time to re-consider.
FOR GOOD LEX, TOO
past 20 years have developed rich theory and lexicon for conflict
resolution as a profession and academic discipline. Practitioners'
success stories I heard suggest that that lexicon can discourage
rather than encourage people from working with us.
described client engagement made possible only when the clients
were able to use their OWN terms to talk about what they wanted
to do, and the process they wanted to use. "About the title
for the training: can we take the word 'conflict' out?" they
Bradt, Summit Insight LLC, 10 October 2004