Mediation and Mending the Nation

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“What may appear as the truth to one person will often appear as untruth to another person. But that need not worry the seeker. Where there is honest effort, it will be realized that what appeared to be different truths are like the countless and apparently different leaves of the same tree.” Mahatma K. Gandhi America has always been full of folks with divergent viewpoints. Over the last years, however, we have lost one of the vital concepts that allowed us to make peace and move forward together: the art of respectful debate and compromise. Much has been made about our politicians’ inability to compromise. People are frustrated by their rigid stances and refusal to engage in give and take. It is not just the politicians, however, who engage in this behavior. All of us could benefit from a refresher course on cooperation. Perhaps it’s our increasing reliance on social media, but people seem less accepting of viewpoints other than  READ MORE >


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People are behaving badly. At least, that’s what I think most times I watch the evening news. Scathing insults are recklessly flung about; people are easily agitated; random acts of kindness and good manners seem to be the exception rather than the rule. This kind of behavior engenders unnecessary conflict. Of course, even without bad behavior, interpersonal conflict is a fact of everyday life. While some people act in ways to escalate conflict, others are so distressed by it they spend most of their time avoiding it, sometimes at the cost of a relationship. But conflict is not always a bad thing. I often do an exercise when teaching mediation or communication skills. I ask everyone to say the first word that comes to mind when thinking about conflict. People usually throw out words such as “fight,” “anger,” “frustration,” “war.” Rarely does anyone think of positive words like “change,” &ldquo  READ MORE >

Elder Care Mediation

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It's 7 p.m. and you've just finished cleaning up after dinner. You are just about to turn on the TV when your cell phone rings. You think about not answering it but it's your sister, Elaine. You don't hear from her often and it's pretty late for her to be calling from the east coast. You answer the phone hoping it's not bad news … but it is. Your mother has fallen and broken her hip. She's in recovery after a two hour surgery. At eighty-two, your mom is fiercely independent. She has lived for fifty-eight years in the same house you grew up in. It's where she lived with your dad until he passed away five years ago. Mom has always done her own shopping, cleaning and cooking, but you noticed that she looked increasing frail during that visit home last Christmas. You made a mental note that you should call her more often. It's so hard to keep track of what's going on when you live 2,700 miles away. Elaine, on the other hand, lives only a few blocks away from   READ MORE >

To Evaluate or Facilitate: That is the Question

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“Though this be madness, yet there is method in it.” William Shakespeare, Hamlet, Act 2, Scene 2 If you asked a group of mediators how best to mediate a case, things could get so heated that, well, you might just need a mediator. Most mediators feel passionately that their method of practice is superior. Perhaps it seems as if mediators just throw folks in a room and make them talk to each other. There is, however, a method to that mediation madness. While most people can agree on the purpose of mediation, it is the manner in which the mediator conducts it that can create confusion, misunderstanding and sometimes, heated debate. There are various recognized styles of mediation, the most common being evaluative, facilitative and transformative. This article will examine the two most widely used methods, evaluative and facilitative. Nationally known mediator Zena Zumeta has defined these two approaches as follows: Evaluative mediation is  READ MORE >

Small Miracles

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Every mediation has a story. Due to the confidential nature of the process, mediators often don’t get the opportunity to tell those stories. Our work is infinitely rewarding, as is the chance to share our experiences with others. A few years back, I had the privilege of mediating a grandparent’s rights matter. e case was ordered to mediation by the court and involved a grandmother, Faye, and her former son-in-law, John. e case had a tragic backstory. Faye’s daughter Sue, the mother of 3 young children with John, had passed away suddenly and unexpectedly. Before her death, Sue and John had divorced and Sue had primary physical custody. John did not play a big role in the children’s lives. Sue had her own business and relied quite heavily on Faye to help with the children. Faye lived close by and saw the kids often. She got them ready for school and watched them most days after school. By the time Faye and John ended up in my o ce, howev  READ MORE >

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