‘Life Lessons’ Category

Conflict Consciousness

What is conflict consciousness?  Our conflicts – both the internal and the external – are our best teachers.  Few of us grow, change, or learn in the absence of conflict.  Conflict Consciousness is the process of looking at your conflicts in order to see – for yourself – where you are as well as where you could be.
We are in the consciousness age and our conflicts are critical components – on personal, tribal, and global levels.  Every conflict has a lesson to teach – about you individually or society as a whole.  Now is the time for you to become more conflict conscious so you can grasp the lesson and incorporate it in your life.
Stay tuned.  More will be revealed.

Course Correction: Shifting Mediation Paradigms

Last year I celebrated my 20th anniversary as a mediator.  Clearly, for me, mediation is not just a job or a business, its my life’s work.  During the last twenty years I have studied conflict and conflict management (mediation being a process of conflict management) and I have mediated criminal, commercial, workplace, and divorce disputes.  Today, I believe that my most important work is as a mediation trainer and that my legacy will be my many students, who use mediation formally and informally, to make the world a better place.

As I look around at the current state of the mediation industry five things continue to annoy me.

1.    Professional mediators are trained in three different venues:  law schools, University based masters and PhD programs in dispute resolution, and 40-hour “Certification” programs offered by private providers.  Each group of students leaves training with different needs.  These needs are often unacknowledged and they remain unmet as  follow-up/future training is typically limited.

2.    There are limited employment opportunities for mediators and the majority of Mediators and Conflict Management Consultants are self employed.  So, training programs should (but most do not) include substantial marketing components.

3.    The “popular” training model – 40-hours of classroom training, followed by a short, on-site (often difficult to acquire) mentorship – was adopted in order to quickly train professionals coming into the profession with experience and knowledge from a related field.  This model has relegated mediation practice to a secondary position.  Re-positioning would require expanding and enhancing the training period and including a true practicum component that is supervised by a practitioner trained in mentoring.

4.    In today’s competitive marketplace branding is a critical component of any marketing plan.  This means that mediators (and other ADR professionals) need to have clear niche expertise.  So, basic training must be followed by advanced training in the niche area.

5.  In order to further the process of mediation and the profession of mediator we must have lobbyists that represent our concerns, on both the state and national levels, with legislatures and executive lawmakers.  And, we must have PR spokespeople who carry our message to the public.

Apologies – Magical, Cleansing, Healing – And The Time is Now

As a professional mediator I have seen the power of the apology first hand. Practicing the 12-Step directive to “make a list of all persons we have harmed, become willing to make amends to them all, and make direct amends wherever possible” may be one of the best life practices you can incorporate. In fact, adopting this philosophy can drastically improve your relationships. Here is what you need to know about apologies:

1. A genuine apology can be very powerful and go a long way towards repairing a relationship. Even if you don’t want reconciliation, an apology can bring closure and internal peace as well as reduce the possibility of negative repercussions in the future.

2. People in the wrong are often afraid to apologize; either because they believe that an apology will make them legally liable or open them up to blame and shame. However, we know that doctors who apologize to their patients for medical mistakes don’t get sued nearly as much as the ones who take a more arrogant attitude.

3. Many of the cases that end up in court – especially consumer and workplace cases – could easily be settled by someone making a decent/sincere and timely apology. The problem is – usually – both people think that they have been wronged. It’s often difficult to make an apology if you think that the apology should be made to you. Avoid this trap and base your actions on the big picture. Seek to see all of your disputes from the vantage point of the person on the other side.

4. People on the receiving end of the apology are often so grateful for the apology that almost anything works. You may simply apologize for the distress that the situation has caused both of you and your contribution to creating this distress.  Or, if it’s more appropriate you may want to say “I made a mistake and I am sorry. Hopefully, I will never do this again.”

5. Let the receiver know that it is not your intention to re-hash the situation – ALL you want to do is apologize. However, if you get a third person involved – someone to act as the mediator – you may be able to re-define the issues involved and see the initial conflict in a different light.

6.  There are 3 possible responses to any apology (a) the apology is accepted and the parties go forward with the goal of re-establishing their connection, (b) the receiver accepts the apology and the parties agree to disagree and move on – with their connection severed, or (c) the party who is receiving the apology is unable to receive it and that is the end. Even in this instance the giver of the apology can feel that s/he has done her part – “kept her side of the street clean.”

7.  A sincere apology is one that is made with (a) no expectations for how the other side will respond; (b) trust that if the bond between us is strong enough it will be re-established so long as we are both willing to be open and honest, and if not, not; and (c) knowledge that people come into our lives for a reason, a season, or a lifetime – and we dont usually know which or why.

An apology can be magical, cleansing, and healing. Who do you need to apologize to?

The Mother-Daughter Bond – Conflict and Comfort

For many women, the mother-daughter connection is life’s most complex relationship. So it comes as no surprise that many of us struggle with the relationship that we share with our mothers and many of us struggle with the relationships that we share with our daughters. As a mediator and as a woman, I am intrigued by how the mother-daughter bond can bring both conflict and comfort. This article discusses the complex mother-daughter relationship and offers tips that both mothers and daughters can use to heal their connection.

Click here to go to Ezinearticles.com and view Elinor Robin’s complete article

What is Preventative Mediation?

Typically, we think of mediation as a process to help people in conflict.  In addition, mediation can be used to help parties negotiating a transaction or wanting to prevent a destructive family or business conflict.  Preventative Mediation can be used as follows:

1.  To create a pre-marital or pre-nuptial agreement, also known as a Marriage Charter.  A mediator can guide a couple’s negotiations so that they can evaluate their expectations, consider a wide variety of options, and make choices about how they want their marriage to look.

2. To create an estate plan.  Often, in both traditional and blended families, there is a lack of clarity regarding the path a family should take to distribute its resources.  A mediator can guide a family’s negotiations so that an estate plan, that takes into account each person’s wants and needs, can be created.

3.  To create a business partner’s agreement, also known as a Partnership Accord.  A mediator can guide the negotiations of potential business partners so that they can evaluate their expectations, consider a wide variety of options, and make choices about how they will operate their business.

4.  To create a family agreement, also known as a Family Pact.  A mediator can guide the negotiations of family members seeking resolution with a wide variety of family issues such as curfews and budgets.

Contact me for more information about Preventative Mediation.

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