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Conflict Coaching v Mediation Preparation

Conflict Coaching v Mediation Preparation

How does conflict coaching differ from the preparation offered to both parties by mediators?

 

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You know, years ago there was lots of literature around, and I think there still is, about the mediator bias, and I remember speaking years ago at a conference saying, ‘Why would we just put people into a forum without preparing them. Expecting that they’re going to be able to move from hearing what the other person has to say, which is going to offend them, and then be able to think out what they want to do?’

 

The current sort of trend or wave of neuroscience that people are talking about, and this is something that you might be familiar with yourself, that if I think that people are going to be so reactive when they sit down with one another that they’re not able to move from that pre- frontal cortex, their amygdala, their pre-frontal cortex in a way that they can move to be reflective, and problem solve, and be creative, when they’ve just been emotionally feeling attacked and rejected and all kinds of things.

 

Years ago I remember being at a conference saying that, and somebody, not saying that because I didn’t have the benefit I do now of more study of neuroscience and understanding the brain. I said, ‘Why don’t we spend more time with people and have them better prepared to go in.’ For instance if you said to somebody, to your clients, ‘What are the three messages you want to make sure the other person is going to hear?’ and you get them more focused. So you spend time, you hear them out, ‘What three things you want to make sure they hear? What do you want to be most prepared for?’, and help people get very intentional about that. I remember at this conference people saying, ‘What about mediator bias? Wouldn’t you get more biased if you are listening to both sides of it?’, and I can tell you from experience you do not. You use the same process for both people, to help prepare them and set their intentions. But this is a little different from coaching. It coaches people for sure.

 

When you’re coaching somebody in a one to one and you’re not going to see the other person, you are the client’s champion. You are there helping them sort out what they need to do to go into a process that you’re not involved in. There’s a distinction between being one person’s coach, and I don’t think any mediator would ever coach one person and then be the mediator for both, but either you use general coaching principles to help people prepare, if that’s something the mediator could learn to do and wants to, and then go into mediation having listened to it. Letting everybody know you’re going to help them both set their intentions. Or you might as a mediator learn to be a coach and you coach one party, or you coach somebody who isn’t even involved in mediation, but you use it as another tool.

About the mediator

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Cinnie Noble is a lawyer, Certified Mediator and Coach based in Toronto, Ontario. Cinnie has worked in the field of ADR as a mediator for over 20 years and in 1999, she identified what she experienced as a need for one on one process to help people strengthen their skills and abilities to more effectively engage in conflict. Through considerable research, Cinnie went on to develop a unique specialty in the ADR and coaching fields. Conflict ma... View Mediator