This chapter focused on the basic skills and structure required for mediation. It talked about the flexibility and overlap of the phases of mediation, and specifically about 4 likely phases of mediation. It progresses along a sometimes meandering path between introduction, storytelling, problem solving, and resolution phases (pp. 63-64).
During introduction, an agenda is set, people are introduced, mediation is defined, and hopefully, trust is established (pp. 69-71).
In storytelling, information and individual points of view are offered as a way of establishing a starting point of understanding of the issues at the present. Active listening is performed by disputants as part of the process (pp. 71-82). It is important during storytelling for the mediator to give regular feedback to disputants to ensure that the message being delivered is accurate, which is done by rephrasing, summarizing, asking questions, reframing, reflecting, and acknowledging. This must be done in a non-authoritative, nonthreatening manner, and it must not be perceived as judgmental or attacking. These tools can be used to increase clarity, improve transparency, diffuse tensions, identify commonality, and create empathy (p. 78).
In problem solving (p. 82), we take what we learned in storytelling, and we begin to sift out resolvable issues. This is done through a process of careful structuring of clarified issues, separation of issues from people, and the differentiation of goals from actions. An agenda may be built in order to allow each issue to be defined, clarified, and seen as solvable in and of itself. Much of this process can be guided using Fisher and Ury’s principled negotiation, so that ideologically, we can begin to see the actual solvable issues, away and apart from their chaotic context (pp. 82-95). Many options are generated as possibilities for solutions to issues. It is important for the disputants to be the primary source for solutions and be in clear agreement about how the issues can be resolved.
In the Resolution stage, we begin to record in the agreement what we have learned in terms of how to resolve the issues. It is at this stage that the physical agreement is filled out, signed, and agreed to.
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 found the task of building your own mediation instruction very useful, and I’ve revised it once or twice in order to make it more realistic. When I first created my introduction using cards, it was very bullet-point oriented, and was hard in practice for me to actually remember all that I wanted to say. After I made it into more of a narrative script, I found it easier to really touch on all of the points that I wanted to. You can see both my original introduction solution on this blog as well as my latest revision. I plan on doing a recording of it on YouTube before the semester is over.