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MEDIATION JOURNAL


A skilled mediator, facilitator and conflict coach, and Head of Jurit LLP’s Alernative Dispute Resolution and Prevention group, Mia has worked with directors and boards restructuring organisations, individuals in


Department of Energy on using


conflict, and advised the US facilitation


to develop


controversial legislation. She is a facilitator in the Church of England’s ‘shared conversations’ on LGBT issues and has been invited to speak at Chatham House on conflict resolution.


Why is it so hard to realise that mediation and facilitation work?


Firstly, often people cannot understand the value of mediation and facilitation. This is partly because, as humans, when we are in conflict, we easily become limited and defensive. We see our own perspective and get attached to it. We not only fail to see the other party’s perspective, we are so caught up in our own version of events that we fail to see that any good can come from seeing the other person’s perspective.


The model of transformative mediation (as well as a number of other models) recognises that when there is conflict between people they become disempowered and no longer properly ‘recognise’ each other as human beings. People in conflict have trouble seeing another person’s perspective because they are so caught up in their own stories and in their own points of view that they only see the other person as an obstacle.


Secondly, facilitation and mediation are black boxes. No one really understands what goes on. Because of this, it is so hard to imagine that ‘magic’ could actually happen in the ‘black box’. This is not helped by the fact that there is no consistent process or way in which all mediators work, so there is no one process to explain to people. It is not a bad thing that facilitators use different approaches and can be flexible. Arguably, there is no one-size fits all. But it is confusing when people are trying to understand what happens.


The third is that we are emotional people and we take things personally: we think “I can sort this out, I’m a rational person” but when it is important to us, we react quicker and often shut down. Emotions are not bad. They can even guide us to greater understanding and clarity but in these situations, they make us more reactive and less able to take in information that differs from our own point of view.


How do facilitation and mediation help with this? A good facilitator will make people feel heard.


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have been heard by the facilitator, a good facilitator will endeavour to make sure that the parties hear each other. And once that happens, ‘magic’: connection reoccurs. There is an intrinsic happiness and calm that comes from relating genuinely to others - hearing and being heard. You see people visibly relax when they feel they have been heard and understood. I have often heard people say ‘no one has ever listened to me like this before’. It makes a difference.


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When people begin to relax and be more in touch with themselves, they can start to see the other person. They realise that the other person is a real and genuine person, not just an obstacle in the way of what they want, but a real person like them with needs and hopes and desires. They also have a clearer fuller picture of what actually happened. They see beyond their one-sided version of events. This opens up more possibilities for solutions: ways forward that are different than what was possible before.


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PROFESSIONAL MEDIATORS Professional mediators


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