Chapter 3 in Mediation is about the process itself, and talks about some of the best practices (characteristics) in terms of what is necessary for successful (constructive) mediation in theory (p. 46). The 5 characteristics of constructive mediation are a safe environment, where disputants feel comfortable taking part in the process of mediation (pp. 53-55), collaborative communication, where the communication between disputants is reframed from a win/lose perspective to a we win perspective (pp. 47-48), power management where disputants are empowered to speak and participate in mediation as equals no matter what their rank role, or place outside of mediation (pp. 48-50), process management, by which mediation allows each person to feel respect, have a voice, and get a chance to participate in a fair way through the process itself (pp. 50-53), and finally face management, where hurtful or questionable statements are kept from going uncorrected so that disputants do not feel as though they’ve lost something just be being part of the narrative process (pp. 55-61).
Towards the end of this chapter, there is an exercise that asks us to “select one of the five characteristics of constructive mediation. Share positive or negative examples of this characteristic from your own lives and careers. Select one of these incidents and prepare two skits for the class, one in which the participants fail to achieve the characteristic, and one on which they do achieve it.” (p. 61) I’ll perform part of this exercise below.
Domenici, K., Domenici-Littlejohn, & Littlejohn, S. W. (2001). Mediation: Empowerment in Conflict Management, Second Edition (2nd ed., p. 198). Waveland Press.
Personal experiential influence:
I select power management and face management. Some positive examples of power management in my own life have been where I have been in a meeting with other people of differing levels of organizational hierarchy, from vice presidents down to coordinators, in which a difficult issue was being discussed, but also in which each person was allowed their full honest say in the matter, without interruption (for the most part) or pulling rank in order to snuff an idea that might be part of the solution. In terms of face management, if someone in one of these situations wanted to gently correct what I had to say, they did it in such a way as to first reinforce the accurate parts of what I had to say, and then use creative phrasing to quietly modify my statement in restatement form.
On the other hand I’ve been in many more meetings where I was carefully reminded that when I speak, I must be careful to remember that I do not speak for everyone, and that I should not state my opinion in such a way as to indicate that my view is the view of all. In one situation I remember clearly, the discussion was about ways that my organization could achieve something as a group in order to boost morale. I have had many conversations a with others in the organization who have said that the last thing they need is an award or a pizza party in order to feel that they are doing a great job, but rather a set of goals that can be clearly and markedly achieved, which might make us feel better inside. I might have said something during the discussion like “Due to conversations I’ve had, I feel that many of the people here feel that the point is not to win something that goes up on a wall, but rather to win something that we can feel proud of from the inside out.” I might have said this in a more diplomatic way, such as “I feel that intrinsic rewards are more important than extrinsic rewards” but regardless, because someone hierarchically higher than me disagreed with my statement, I was quickly stopped from continuing with it, with the statement that what I said was a clear example of what was wrong withour communication style in the organization, and that I should not speak as though I represent the other members of the organization. There’s some truth on both sides.