What a Saturday! Despite the blistering heat, I was thrilled to travel to Oxford University last month to facilitate a module on the mediation accreditation program for the 2022 course season.
This was my second time delivering the Negotiation module as part of the Psychologically-Informed Mediation Accreditation program. Previously run at Regent’s University London, the program kicked off its inaugural season at Jesus College, Oxford University in 2021 facilitated by long-time lecturers, mediators, and authors Monica Hanaway and Diana Mitchell.
What is psychologically-informed mediation?
Mediation is considered a form of alternative dispute resolution (ADR) made possible through the use of a neutral third party who assists in supporting those in conflict toward resolution. The success rate is high and the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution’s (CEDR) 2018/2019 survey cites an 89% success rate. And mediation is a cheaper and faster than legal alternatives with CEDR estimating upwards of £3 billion saved by businesses alone in wasted management time, damaged relationships, lost productivity and legal fees (Hanaway, 2021).
Over the past few decades, as mediation gained in popularity and became a key resource used not only by lawyers and barristers but increasingly by therapists and counsellors, a greater understanding emerged with respect to the origins of conflict and that these, unlike a short-term dispute which could be resolved procedurally, were more rooted in a state of mind, a value-set or a person’s worldview making it more difficult for one party to compromise or negotiate reasonable outcomes. If conflicts were logic-based, they could be hashed-out calmly, reasonably and would be easy to resolve. But they’re not. Conflicts are emotionally driven, and the parties become stuck because a person feels something in the dispute deeply threatens their beliefs, worldview or value system.
It is of little surprise then that the transformational importance of mediation focuses on the validation and the safeguarding of self-esteem of all parties. And if this is done properly and authentically, it can enable the parties to reach a ‘good enough’ outcome by which all parties may benefit from both the process and the settled agreement.
How does negotiation interlink with mediation?
On its own, negotiation is a form of dispute resolution. You have something I need that I can’t obtain for myself (unlike a price-tagged transactional purchase) and it is thus used to reach alignment; negotiation serves as an exchange of ideas and information between the parties to more positively influence the perceived outcome of a situation or settlement. Why perceived? Because each person’s perception IS their world view – and that perception is just as valuable and tangible as something you can hold solidly in your hand.
Like other forms of conflict resolution, negotiation is intended to build bridges with recognition that the best results come from validating the other person’s worldview and by finding common ground/shared gains for all parties. It’s the combination of these principles – mutuality and validation – that negotiation, mediation and other forms of ADR like restorative justice – are able to find success.
How can I get more information?
Here are some resources:
- Finding a mediator (UK):
o Civil & Corporate: https://civilmediation.org/mediator-search/
- Become a trained mediator:
When is the next intake for the Oxford accreditation program?
The legal accreditation program will be back at the university in July, 2023.
But don’t wait, if you’re really interested in mediation now, you can try a weekend taster program with M&D Associates at one of their upcoming programs, which are hosted in the UK and abroad – visit their site for information. Or check out these great reads by experts in their field:
Psychologically-Informed Mediation: Studies in Conflict and Resolution by Monica Hanaway
Psychology of Conflict:Mediating in a Diverse World by Paul Randolph
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