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A Value Proposition for Mediation

A Value Proposition for Mediation

How do you build a value proposition as a mediator?



Full Transcript

Okay, that is a really important question. What is it we offer? If it’s not resolving conflict unless that is part of what we offer at the right time, and if it’s not being a third-party neutral only, although that is what we offer at the right time, what is it?


I’ve suggested several things in here that I think we offer. One is that we are people who understand the dynamics of conflict, and can help people therefore, figure out what their own choices are in conflict, and what their own circumstances is. We better understand the cultural dynamics. I think that is something we can do and offer. We need to understand power and we need to understand communication.


We can help people communicate strategically, but also in a principled and effective way. Thus, we understand the different approaches to that we understand process and different procedures so we can help bring people to the right process for them, at the right time. And under the right circumstances we might be people who conduct those processes as well.


I think increasingly we have to understand something about the substance of the areas we work in. When I first started this was such a new thing but then most people, and I had a background on psychotherapy, so in family work and divorce and child welfare where I did a lot of work, I had a substantive expertise, and that helped. We often have to move in areas where none of us have substantive expertise.


Increasingly, I think, we can also bring in, not because we are the substantive consultants, but we can help people connect the right process to the right substantive elements to it.


Now, I think we do bring a set of values as part of our value, and those values are important. We believe that, I think a fundamental belief is that people ought to be able, to the greatest extent possible, to solve their own problems, as opposed to solutions imposed upon them.


I think that value in itself means, we are always looking for whether people can do that and how they can do it, and ways in which we move beyond a top-down division making. That value becomes important, for example, as one thing.


Another thing we believe in is the fundamental dignity of all people. In other words, in a conflict, we do not start with figuring out who is right and who is wrong, but we rather focus on what’s going on.


I often say to my students, for example, the three explanatory crutches that people use in conflict are: they blame it on somebody being stupid, somebody being crazy, or somebody being evil. And not saying it is not stupid, crazy and evil in the world, but we go beyond that and say, ‘That doesn’t explain anything. That’s a way of not explaining things. Instead, we figure out, let’s understand what’s happening because we believe that everybody, from their own point of view, is acting in a way that makes sense to them and is right by them. Mostly, or almost always. Those are some of the values that we believe.

About the mediator

Bernie Mayer Profile Pic

Bernie Mayer, Ph.D. is Professor of Dispute Resolution at The Werner Institute, Creighton University. He is without doubt a leader in the field of conflict resolution. Considered by many in the field of conflict resolution as an icon, Bernie has over a quarter century of experience in the field and was a founding partner at CDR Associates, the internationally recognized mediation and conflict resolution organization. Bernie originally trained as ... View Mediator