A gut feeling might be causing some interest in mediation. Eventually reasoned by the idea to get rid of all those useless struggles when fighting for or against something or somebody. Imagine there was a world where people understand each other. Could that be a solution for something? Is it a picture you like because you know that things will go easier that way?

Beware the sceptics. They will argue: „Don’t listen. That’s not possible. Some useless psycho-talks are not really tangible and therefore they cannot be effective. Fighting is more handy. We know what we can win and loose. That’s the reality we have to deal with. Phantasies are not enough to protecting us from the evil. They also are not enough to replace the damage or to provide our rights achieving justification!“. Even mediators prefer the tangible way, when they start to claim that we need conflicts for development.

Dealing with conflicts is the issue

Seems the world is built on conflicts indeed. Most of them are called. Do we really need that? Even lawyers become tired of all that stupid rowing around. They try to improve services since they understood that efforts – compared with results – mostly are not really adequate. Didn’t we learn that war is useless and that it always is better to avoid it? Why do we have war then? Do you really think this is a fate we cannot evade?

We all are occupied by a tremendous workload. Some have to manage several jobs the same time for survival. Reports, proves, quality management, documentations, taxes, rules and an increased administration doesn’t make life easier. Law is getting more and more complicated, where rules are breeding and becoming less handy the same time. We are aware that life is getting more and more complex that way and because of that more and more complicated. There is too much we have to take into consideration. For everything you need an expert. This is consuming a lot of energy. Does it make sense to put some more energy on one’s head for quarrelling?

Prevailing over somebody does not necessarily mean winning. What we are talking about is the future – or even more precisely: we talk about the benefit happening in future. Future at least is the reality people have to face following up the conflict resolution. Let’s imagine a future, which is based on mutual understanding and consensus, where just talks move problems away. Let’s assume for a moment, that this might be a healthy possible world.

The way to get there is mediation

Moving problems away through talks – this idea hints on mediation already. Indeed mediation shows the way to get there. At least it is one way. Let’s take it out of the gut and treat it like a craft. Then it becomes a way to be resonably planned and calculated.

Do you know already about the variety of mediation? The better the style fits to the case the better it will be resolved. Would you know when to demand what? Have you ever heard about the evaluative, facilitative transformative or even integrated mediation? Do you know the needs that should be suspended and satisfied through the procedure? Did you know that mediation is able to manage cases with an infinite number of participants? Could you imagine that people in a highly escalated conflict – in a war of roses – are sitting next to each other decently talking about conflict resolutions without a shuttle, just caused by the mediator’s loops? Do you know how narrative or sounding mediation might become useful and how to arrange it? Did you know that many disciplines, not just law but also psychology, sociology, philosophy and others influence and reason the process behind mediation? Did you know that mediation gathers everything that any way is concerned with conflicts in order to manage the best way possible? Do you know that mediation is working with not aganist the dynamic of conflicts? Do you know how and why mediation heals relationships? Do you know why it is not possible to fight in mediation? Can you imagine that this all can be taught and learned in just 30 or some 40 hours?

Understanding mediation first

30 or 40 hours definitely are not enough! Even 120 hours like to be fixed in Germany are too less. Mediation is more than knowing about just some rules of the procedure. Stepping deeper into backgrounds, mediation appears as something very old and quite new the same time. It’s wisdom is as old as the bible. New is the scientific derivation. It is giving the old wisdom new reasons, taking mediation out of any suspicious psy-talk image. Instead mediation shows up with a stable, tangible base, reasoned by science and proved in practice. We are not talking about that gut mediation, where coffee and cookies become the main reason for successful talks. Though we know how much athmosphere is improving negotiations, this approach still is far away from what we call mediation.

Mediation is very complex and simple the same moment. You might compare it with a chess game. There are just a handful of rules and only a few figures to move. The game quickly is explained. After the second draw already the player will be confused by 72.084 different options to be choosen. It’s hardly possible to plan the next steps to go through an interactive game where the number of options is raising exponentially after each draw.

Same is with mediation. There are just a few rules and insights one needs to know. But in its combination they become a good many confusing mediators often what to do next. They fall in a trap. Asking what to do next is a misleading question. It takes thoughts away from the situation instead of focusing and understanding it. Indeed, not knowing the right loops and questions degrades mediation on a process steered by the gut. Again we are where we’ve started. Knowing the process needs undersingtanding it. Understanding helps to properly using and demanding it. Proper demand and use is equal to success.

Dealing with mediation then

The use defines the deal. Many declare mediation as to be the alternate to court-procedures. Mediation – as a demanded procedure – is declared to be cheaper, quicker and more sustainable than a court decision. That assertion is not quite true, not without differenciation. A transformative mediation, which is able to heal relationships and close to therapy, lasts long and it therefore is expensive. Though it often is more effective than a marriage therapy or a legal advise. An evaluative mediation is quick but based on a compromise somewhere between the positions. Thus the result cannot really be much better than a court settlement. Faciliative mediation solves problems, not necessarily the conflict. And so on.

What we learn is: mediation is not equal mediation. Various kinds of mediation provide various methods and competences defining the depth of thinking. Choosing the right mediation model is guaranting its success. What we therefore urgently need to do is precising the view on mediation, to distinguish the different styles and ways in order to arrange the various dispute reolutions and to understand the magic behind mediation as to be different from other procedures we know.

Understanding the difference always

The insight why mediation is different from other procedures is a crucial one. Knowing the difference is a base for success. Comparing mediation with a court procedure for example might hint a lack of understanding where this is comparing the incomparable. Opposite to mediation a court procedure for example achieves a decision about the past. It focusses questions like: „Who caused the damage?“, „Who did what wrongly?“, „Who is the debtor?“, „Who is guilty?“ and „Who is the winner?“. The idea is to clean the past. We know that things cannot be undone. Is future now different? Is it at least better and even satisfying? If one wins the case, has one got what is satisfying all the needs? This kind of questioning asking about the benefit mostly is out of the procedure’s focus. The court verdicts the debtor not taking into consideration if he is able to pay his debt or not. If the debtor is not able to pay the plaintiff might win the case but he will not necessarily receive the money.

The approach of mediation is another one. Mediation doesn’t need to look into the past where the question is about future. Mediation is a solution finding process. It’s a searching game where we even do not know what to seach for. What we want to achieve is overcoming a contradiction (which is the appearence of the conflict) more than manifesting it. The only thing we know heading our aim is about the way how we have to look and where. Mediation tells us not just the way but also the conditions where it works how and why. For adjusting the right views mediation is solely focused on it’s own process. A really good mediator doesn’t have anything else in his mind. He therefore knows how to use any phenomenon happening in or around the mediation as to be an element supporting mediation’s process. The result is what happens. The process is the frame to get there.

The idea of mediation is that parties should find solutions based on understanding themselves. „What should we need for understanding? Don’t we understand already?“, might be a customer’s question.  „Yes sure!“ is mediator’s answer: „Do you understand each other too? Wouldn’t that be good if you want to conclude something?“. A mediator knows that mutual understanding needs some insights, mostly combined with changed views. It needs to broaden understanding and to establish a meta view, sometimes to unchain from emotions. We recognize that all of what parties need for solution finding is concerned with the brain in a way. Let’s include body for involving emotions also.

Having that picture in mind, mediation appeares like mind walking. Passing mediation means passing steps of cognition. That’s why we (integrated mediation) define mediation as to be a cognition process. Mediation pretty well describes what insights we need and how we get them, looking for insights in ourselves solely. Achieving neutral insights in parties‘ brain might be seen an art. Maybe it is. Nevertheless the flow of thoughts can be planned and organized. It is transparent and secure like a craft – at least it should be like that.

Understanding the rules of art also

Talking about craft and art, we need to know some criteria to learn if it is well done or not. We also need some directives how to steer through that process and some „how to do’s“. Instructions about what is right and what is wrong in mediation?

Many try to make mediation more comprehensible by simplifying it. You’ll find rules like: „A mediator isn’t allowed to make proposals because he then is a conciliator“. „A mediator is not allowed to advise and he is not allowed to evaluate“. „Parties have to appear voluntarily and publicity is forbidden“. „The mediator is responsible for the process while parties are responsible for the result“. You will find lists of those simplifications. Be aware of them. Mediation is not that stubborn and much more complex. Those „rules“ therefore are right and wrong the same time.

In fact it is not easy to rule a communication process, which should be a self-confident, autonomous informal talk. Nevertheless there are forbidden draws like in chess. Now there are some duties, the mediator has to obey when promising a professional mediation. Other rules can be waived. To not make mistakes the mediator simply has to forbear everything that is not fitting to the procedure’s character. Understanding the procedure correctly therefore is the remedy for proper mediations.

Accepting the challenge at least

Beginners often experience at the first glance: „Oh that’s easy! I feel already success when talking with others“. Some feel to already be mediatora at that stage. Practice will teach them: What looks easy in reality is quite challenging. It looks weird suddenly what options are to be taken. To feel secure, one needs to know what the situation expects to do. It becomes visible now why mediation is simple and only referring a few of rules and difficult the same way. They understand why it is like chess. Knowing the rules doesn’t make you a good chess player. For that you need to be able to think in the game’s manner understand the philosophy, the strategy, methods, techniques and the going together. Let’s compare that with mediation. A mediator is professional, if he can think in mediation’s manner. The biggest challenge is to switch the way of thinking and to get used to think without assessing and even without focussing the solution. Unexperienced mediators are not able to see the logic behind, how that what looks so confusing is a pert of the game and a part of the way to bring order in one’s mind.

Integrated mediation – solution for solutions

Now we take a look on integrated mediation. Integrated mediation offers a structure and derivations that describe mediation in its cognition process where every thought becomes a brick heading the solution. Integrated mediation is giving a concept upon mediation that makes this process computable in its best understanding. The process is declined in smaller sub-processes. We call them functional units. Those units are small enough that they easily can be used even outside the formal mediation. Understanding the cognition process behind will benefit as follows:

  • features in mediation can be used more precisely and effectively (improving mediation skills)
  • procedures other than mediation can be enhanced by mediative until they become a mediation either formally or substancially (improving negotiation skills)
  • way of thinking (improving life style)

Photo by mikefoster (Pixabay)