Journal entry: New Directions Chapter 11

Personal Experiential Influence
This chapter talks about an 800 pound gorilla in the mediation chamber – the one that indicates that mediation theory in the transformative/relational tradition and mediation practice in the problem solving/individualist tradition are at odds, not speaking, and distrustful of one another – which is ironic, considering mediation might be a good way to bring about relatinal understanding between these two groups. They have so much in common – they want to help people, they want to resolve issues, and they want to take all the framing instances and find a common frame. However, because acting upon the criticisms and theoretical analyses of mediation might be considered experimental in real world practice, current mediator training is strictly focused on the practices and ideas that have come before. It is the antithesis of innovation, and seems much more like stagnation. Maybe what needs to happen is something like the case study that occurs in Chapter 12 concerning the Wolf population control issues in Alaska. If we could get critics, mediators, managerial 3rd party practitioners, and disputants who have both succeeded and failed in mediation to participate in a controlled dialogue on the issues of what’s right and wrong in individualistic vs. relational approaches to mediation, maybe we could all find something in common with other extant views.

Rifkin, J. (1994). The Practitioner’s Dilemma. In J. P. Folger & T. S. Jones (Eds.), New Directions in Mediation: Communication Research and Perspectives (pp. 204-221). Sage Publications, Inc.

Journal Entry: New Directions Chapter 1


The Benefits of Transformative Orientation of Mediation

The relational view of mediation provides an alternative to simple individualistic me versus you problem solving style mediation, which is the most commonly practiced style in the form now. Transformative style is poised to increase human awareness along two key axes: Empowerment and Recognition (p. 15).

It is important for mediators to avoid simply solving the problem for disputants, no matter how simple it might seem to be to do, as disputants are more likely to agree to and own solutions that they devise themselves through trusting inquiry.

The transformative methodology stresses the disputants being given the ability to devise and own a shared, collaborative solution to their conflict (p. 21). Active listening and monologues in turn is demanded as part of the process (p. 18). Individualist views emphasize me and my while transformative, relational views emphasize the me and my as they relate to you, yours, we, ours, and all of ours.

Folger, J. P., & Baruch Bush, R. A. (1994). Ideology, Orientations to Conflict, and Mediation Discourse. In J. P. Folger & T. S. Jones (Eds.), New Directions in Mediation: Communication Research and Perspectives (pp. 3-25). Sage Publications, Inc.

Practical Experiential Application:

Active listening, in particular, has been an especially useful tool for me in my own day to day conflict resolution toolkit. In normal conversations, we do more back and forth work in our communication, where I’m thinking about the points that I want to make next, the context of the moment right now, the ways in which I’m going to add to or refute what you just said. You’re dong the same thing. While practicing active listening, we put aside all of that cross pollination of ideas between my thoughts and yours and simply focus on those of the current speaker. In active listening, we act to silence ourselves, stifle our want to interrupt, and work to understand the similarities and differences between your ideas and mine. This is difficult to do while practicing active listening, but nearly impossible to do in normal conversation, where there is the constant flow of nonverbal data, environmental context, and our own babbling mind. Active listening is a form of working to silence all of that.