Conflict Mediation
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Conflict Mediation
News and inspiration from around the Web on conflict mediation and peace building. All my commentary on this site is published under a Creative Commons Attribution licence. Thanks to etutoria on flickr for the listening rock icon.
Curated by Gabi Witthaus
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Bradford synagogue saved by city's Muslims

Bradford synagogue saved by city's Muslims | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
Faced with closure a year ago, today Bradford's synagogue's future is bright, a model of cross-cultural co-operation
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

This is a really heart-warming story, ironically coinciding with the Christian celebration of Christmas.

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Mediate or be damned

Mediate or be damned | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
In a landmark decision released yesterday, the Court of Appeal has upheld the decision to deprive a Defendant of part of it costs, for failing to respond to repeated requests to mediate, even though it made a Part 36 offer which the Claimant failed...
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

Interesting case which shows the value being attributed to mediation by the England and Wales Court of Appeal.

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Timberland’s CEO on engaging with angry activists and averting conflict (from HBR)

Timberland’s CEO on engaging with angry activists and averting conflict (from HBR) | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
When Greenpeace threatened to boycott Timberland, its CEO saw an opportunity to improve.
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

A very honestly written piece by Timberland CEO about how he dealt with 65,000 protest emails from Greenpeace supporters. It demonstrates the effectiveness of both the non-violent campaign of Greenpeace activists (who were apparently acting on very well-researched information) and the open response of Timberland in attempting to understand the issues being raised by the protestors and address the problems. 

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Online Mediation — Stop before you "Press Delete"!

Online Mediation — Stop before you "Press Delete"! | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it

"There are two fundamental reasons why cyber mediation cannot work:  1)  Decisions are emotionally driven; and 2)  email, text, and Twitter posts do not effectively communicate emotion (after all, we resort to emoticons as a means of communicating our feelings in emails and text messages)."

Gabi Witthaus's insight:

This blog post, by a self-confessed 'old-school' mediator, Bruce Friedman, expresses strong opinions against the idea of online mediation. However, it seems from the post that he has never experienced online mediation. His comments remind me of the protestations against the use of online technologies in the field of higher education that were prominent ten years ago, and to some extent still are. They are based on the following (erroneuous) notions:

 

1) Online communication is impersonal; it is difficult, if not impossible, to develop meaningful relationships with people using online communication platforms.

2) Online technologies are difficult/ cumbersome to use.

3) Everything about face-to-face education (mediation) is better, apart from perhaps some admin tasks such as exchanging paperwork.

 

In my own experience of online education, I can say that all these points are erroneous. (I did a Masters in Training and Development through USQ from 2005-2009, and am currently doing a PGC in Mediation through RGU in Scotland.)

 

My experience has been that:

 

1) Online communication can be deeply personal. I have built up highly stable and long-lastingrelationships with people I have never met face-to-face, and these relationships have enriched me personally and professionally.

2) The online technologies that are available today are not perfect, but they are quite adequate for the task of communicating.

3) Online communication is better than face-to-face communication in certain ways. For example, the combination of live web-conferencing (e.g. using Skype or similar technologies) with written communication (e-mail) provides for a balanced mix of real-time conversation and asynchronous, written reflection.

 

If used well, I believe that online technologies can enable effective communication, and as a mediator-in-training, I see no reason why these tools should not be used in mediation.

 

I am happy to see that Giuseppe Leone has already responded to this post (http://www.linkedin.com/groups/Virtual-Mediation-Lab-5136308) and has invited Friedman to join in a virtual mediation session to experience it for himself. The comments below Giuseppe's post are also worth reading.

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Crisis in the Courts: Making a Virtue out of a Necessity

Crisis in the Courts: Making a Virtue out of a Necessity | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
Crisis grips the California court system.
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

This seems to reflect a shift in mainstream legal thinking towards incorporating alternative disupte resolution/ mediation into every lawyer's toolkit. 

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Mediators in Spain: 2nd national encounter of mediation enthusiasts - ADR Resources

Mediators in Spain: 2nd national encounter of mediation enthusiasts - ADR Resources | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
Mediators in Spain organize the Second National Encounter of Mediation Enthusiasts to be held in Córdoba on October 4-6, 2013.
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

This is really interesting. I love the way free, Web-based networking platforms (LinkedIn in this case) are being used to enable collaboration between like-minded professionals - mediators and mediation enthusiasts in this case. (I count myself as one of the latter.)

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Give peace a chance on 21 Sept

Give peace a chance on 21 Sept | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
The United Nations observes International Day of Peace on September 21. Kasmin Fernandes takes this opportunity to explore ideas to resolve conflicts in different spheres of modern life - from the...
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

This is an entertaining, if ambitious, article from the Times of India which aims to get readers thinking about how to celebrate the United Nations Day of Peace on 21 September. It covers Marshall Rosenberg's Non-Violent Communication, the concept of Appreciative Inquiry (I'll follow up on this one in a separate scoop) and something called 'Ontological Coaching', and finally, the notion that we can learn a lot from our close relatives, the bonobo monkeys of the Congo. (They know how to play, apparently.) 

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Ideographically and pictographically speaking: Using images to solve problems is brain-friendly

Ideographically and pictographically speaking: Using images to solve problems is brain-friendly | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
Doctors do it. Trial lawyers do it. Kids do it. Why aren't more lawyers doing it? Why don't we see it more often in mediations? "It" is drawing.
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

I'm loving reading back-posts by Stephanie West Allen. This one has links to other sources to learn about using pictures ('pictographs') in mediation. 

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Brains On Purpose™: All mediation is brain-based: It's impossible to resolve conflict without a brain (And other Friday-the-13th reflection)

Brains On Purpose™: All mediation is brain-based: It's impossible to resolve conflict without a brain (And other Friday-the-13th reflection) | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
To write the title of this post, I have paraphrased a sentence in an article from PopSci: "[A]ll education is brain-based. It is impossible to learn without a brain." That statement is true for education—and my version fits for mediation.
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

I have just discovered the work of Stephanie West Allen, a mediator with a background in Psyhcology, who applies concepts from the field of Neuroscience to help us understand conflict. Here she draws parallels between mediation and coaching, and makes the case for *not* using 'technique-driven' mediation. As a mediator-in-training, with a background in education and deep interest in how people learn, I found this a fascinating read.

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Mediation in the UK - the official line

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This page explains how mediation is integrated into the legal justice system in the UK.

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Online Mediation: Can the process function online? by Lorraine Lally presented at the SLS Conference 2012

Online Mediation: Can the process function online? by Lorraine Lally presented at the SLS Conference 2012 | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
Online Mediation: Can the process function online? by Lorraine Lally presented at the SLS Conference 2012
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

This looks like a very interesting conference presentation by barrister Lorraine Lally at the Society of Legal Scholars, Edinburgh Conference 2013. It would be great to get access to the paper, slides or a recording of the session if available. I am including Lorraine in a tweet with this posting in the hopes that she will be able to help!

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50 young persons trained as peer mediators - Trinidad News

50 young persons trained as peer mediators
Trinidad News
“This camp taught us about conflict and how to avoid conflict.
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Pakistan launches mobile mediation court to help back logged court

Pakistan launches mobile mediation court to help back logged court | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
PAKISTAN-MOBILE/COURTS (PIX):Pakistan launches mobile mediation court to help back logged court
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

This looks like an innovative solution to the problem of lengthy delays for minor issues to get through the courts system in Pakistan.

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International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution - interview with Dan Rainey

International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution - interview with Dan Rainey | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
In this 58th episode of the Conflict Specialists Show, Dave Hilton interviews Dan Rainey for Cyberweek 2013 and discusses the new International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution. Some of the top...
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

Another great interview by Dave Hilton - this one is with Dan Rainey, who is just about to launch the new International Journal of Online Dispute Resolution. Sounds like this is going to be a great publication, with a good mix of both academic and practitioner input. The journal website is at http://www.international-odr.com/.

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Guatemala remembers conflict victims as new battles ignite over resources - The Guardian

Guatemala remembers conflict victims as new battles ignite over resources - The Guardian | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
The Guardian
Guatemala remembers conflict victims as new battles ignite over resources
The Guardian
There are echoes of Rabinal in today's social conflicts that pit mining and hydroelectric companies against indigenous communities.
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

This article describes a litany of conflicts in Guatemala - historical and current - primarily between poor farming communities and big business owners or government over resources. It's hard to imagine what kind of conflict resolution strategies could be used in such an environment, where massacres and brutality seem to be the order of the day.

 

Thanks to Kisame Christian for suggesting this post.

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Review of web conferencing software for online mediation

Review of web conferencing software for online mediation | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
If you are interested in Online Mediation and believe that the "visual" component is crucial for gaining the parties' trust in you and in the mediation process, you'll soon be faced with two questi...
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

The link in the title of this post takes you to Giuseppe Leone's summary of the web-conferencing tools that have been tested so far as potential platforms for online mediation. I was involved in the Adobe Connect one and the Oovoo one. A brief summary of the key points from those two trials follows:

 

Adobe Connect:

 

This was ruled out by the mediators in the test run as a usable platform for the following reasons:

 

* Highly non-intuitive interface (especially for people not familiar with web-based technologies)

* Poor quality sound and choppy video for some participants (at least in comparison to Skype)

* Issues for the mediator (who has the "host" position in Adobe Connect) in giving microphone and camera access to all participants. (This is not automatic unless participants are given 'Presenter' status, but this status enables them to accidentally change screen settings for everyone so it is best avoided.)

* Severe difficulties for the person who tried to join the session on an Android phone

* Problems in running the platform from Chrome on a Mac. Mac users had to use a different browser.

* Terminology is geared towards a corporate training environment, so participants are called 'Presenters' / 'Host' etc which is inappropriate in a mediation environment.

* Unfriendly mechanism for putting people on hold.

* Cost ($45 per month) is beyond the means of most self-employed mediators or small companies.

 

Oovoo:

 

This was also ruled out, for the following reasons:

 

* Too closely tied in with Facebook and Youtube - gives an unprofessional impression

* Tricky interface where if a user clicks on anything (for example the chat function), a new window opens up obscuring the main screen with the videos and whiteboard

* Chat funtion very confusing - a new window opens up for each new chat that is initiated, and the windows disappear forever if you close them. Also, every time you close one of these windows, you have to respond to an in-your-face message asking if you want to 'Add friends' from Facebook.

* No security - it was possible for participants to publicise the URL during the session and to invite Facebook friends to join in.

* No way to put people on hold.

 

Having said all that, the Oovoo platform had excellent sound and video quality, and worked well on all devices it was tested on.

 

The videos from these trials have been posted to YouTube and are available on Giuseppe's post (accessible from the title of this scoop). The findings of the trials will be presented at Cyberweek - the free, virtual conference on Online Disupte Resolution which takes place from 4-8 Nov 2013: http://www.adrhub.com/forum/topics/cyberweek-2013-save-the-date

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Dude, it's not about the Money!

Gabi Witthaus's insight:

A thought-provoking story from Dan Simons (who featured in my last scoop) about a conflict he was involved in with a friend. For his analysis of the conflict, see his follow-up blog post at http://www.transformativemediation.org/2013/10/27/an-interpretation-of-the-light-fixture-story/. ;

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Workplace Discrimination Case - Example of Transformative Mediation - 72-min Video

Workplace Discrimination Case - Example of Transformative Mediation - 72-min Video | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
Mediator: Dan Simon (Minnesota, USA) Supervisor: Ben Davies (United Kingdom) Employee: Lisa Jacobs (Hawaii, USA)   To watch the same case mediated with the facilitative and narrative method, c...
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

This is a fabulous mediation simulation done via Skype, in which transformative mediator, Dan Simon, demonstrates how transformative mediation (as discussed by Bush and Folger in 'The Promise of Mediation') can be used in a workplace discrimination dispute. The 'disputants' are also mediators, and the simulation is followed by a very interesting discussion about the process and the technology that were used, led by the inimitable Giuseppe Leone. Well worth the 72 minutes to watch the whole thing.

 

As a simulation, it is good on so many levels. Technology-wise, it shows that Skype is an effective platform for mediation - despite a couple of glitches where the Skype call had to be restarted. As a role-play of a mediation, it is quite believable because the participants carry through their roles very well. As an example of how transformative mediation works in practice, it is excellent, with Dan giving a sterling performance. The discussion afterwards was perhaps the most interesting part for me, as the two mediators who played the conflicting parties in the mediation, and who both happen to be facilitative mediators, expressed their surprise at how well the process went, despite their initial unease at the fact that Dan did not mention the words 'settlement' or 'agreement' (which would be standard practice in facilitative mediation).

 

 

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The mediator's life | Tammy Lenski

The mediator's life | Tammy Lenski | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
I remember the first time I succeeded in a mediation. I was a newbie mediator, just barely out of my studies and on my own.
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

This is a nice, honest reflection on a range of 'firsts' in Tammy Lenski's career - the first time she succeeded at a mediation, the first time she failed, the first time she cried in a mediation and so on. Very sobering for those of us who are mediation students... The comments are also worth a read.

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Mediation is like photography…. — The Mediation Times

Mediation is like photography…. — The Mediation Times | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it

"In an article I wrote for the CIArb International Journal of Arbitration, Mediation and Dispute Management called The ‘Everywhen’ Mediator, I likened being a mediator to being a photographer."

Gabi Witthaus's insight:

I've just discovered Amanda Bucklow's blog - this is exciting! She wrote this post in 2008 but the idea is timeless - and makes perfect sense to me. 

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Do clients need to fit into your bed? Here's a process to decrease the number of Procrustean professionals

Do clients need to fit into your bed? Here's a process to decrease the number of Procrustean professionals | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
Procrustean Bed Procrustes had an odd way of showing hospitality: He kidnapped people and then fed them dinner. But he did not stop with the dining; he gave his guests a bed in which to sleep.
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

Another very engaging read from Stephanie West Allen. I'm looking forward to seeing the update she promises about a schedule of upcoming presentations on how mediators can work with clients to determine the most appropriate style of mediation for the situation. I'm very much hoping that there will be at least one open, online session, or a recording... [Holds breath]

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View from the Middle of the Road: The Flip Side of an Apology: Forgiveness

View from the Middle of the Road: The Flip Side of an Apology: Forgiveness | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
The Flip Side of an Apology: Forgiveness http://t.co/8MJ2GVfSfx #mediation
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Autonomy is a Big Deal

Gabi Witthaus's insight:

This is a nice, succinct description of what transformative mediation is and how it works, from the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation.

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CYBERWEEK 2013 - conference on online dispute resolution

CYBERWEEK 2013 - conference on online dispute resolution | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
Greetings,
It is time once again to prepare for the annual conference on Online Dispute Resolution, Cyberweek 2013. This online conference provides a week of a…
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

I just had a really enjoyable online meeting with Giuseppe Leone of Virtual Mediation Hub (http://www.virtualmediationlab.com/about/) about the use of different webconferencing platforms in online mediation. Giuseppe is hoping to highlight this issue at the ADR Cyberweek (4-8 Nov 2013). He plans to test several different platforms according to a set of criteria, including the following:

Intuitive interface

Easy for all parties to use

Should be easy for mediator to set up joint sessions and private sessionsGood video audio qualitySupport for mobile devicesSecurity - password protection and no need to exchange personal info such as email addressesInformation sharing - during online mediation the parties should be able to share and comment, e.g. share a screen, share pictures, PDF files, Excel sheets etc.Video sharing, e.g. a video made on a smartphone that might have been uploaded to YouTubeAnnotation and pointing – e.g. one person should be able to guide the others through specific parts of a pictureAn online whiteboard – where at the end of the meeting the mediator could write an agenda for next meeting etc.Text chat to be used in case the parties can't hear or see each other and need to trouble-shoot

In our session we used Adobe Connect (http://www.adobe.com/uk/products/adobeconnect.html) and Zoom (http://zoom.us/about). While Adobe Connect seems to be aimed at a corporate market (costing a minimum of $55 per month, if I understood their very complex website correctly), Zoom has a generous free package that allows you to host an unlimited number of meetings per month with up to 25 participants, and a maximum duration of 40 minutes per meeting.

 

The plan over the coming weeks is to experiment with a range of different platforms to see which ones lend themselves best to the mediation context. The findings will be made openly available so that other mediators can benefit from this project. 

 

Coming from the world of online education, I am particularly interested to see the ways in which online conferencing for mediation is similar to (or differs from) educational uses of web conferencing. So far I am not seeing major differences. I'll post updates and further thoughts as we progress with our experiment.

 

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Self-defence training for council staff after threats - Independent.ie

Self-defence training for council staff after threats - Independent.ie | Conflict Mediation | Scoop.it
A LOCAL authority has ordered all staff members dealing directly with the public to undergo mandatory self-defence training.
Gabi Witthaus's insight:

I'm all for self-defence training, but it's sad that council workers feel so threatened by the public. What has gone wrong?

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