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Imbalances of Power and Transformative Mediation

Imbalances of Power and Transformative Mediation

How do you deal with imbalances of power in the transformative approach?



Full Transcript

Well I first acknowledge that I can’t promise a ‘fair’ process in the sense that I can somehow equalise the power. If that person does have more power outside of the mediation session, I have no influence outside the mediation session and I have no way of preventing that from being a factor in the mediation session. That may be part of reality.


Second, I am doing everything I can throughout the process to let everybody present know that’s as far as I’m concerned, they get to participate in any way they want to and I remind people of that. And so if one person has been talking for a long period of time, the other person hasn’t said anything, I might gently offer what we call a ‘check in’ to the quieter party and I’d say, ‘Quieter party, you haven’t said anything in a while. Just checking, did you want to say something? Or are you okay?’ Not that my agenda is to get them equal time, but my agenda is to make sure that everybody present knows they are welcome, as far as I’m concerned, to participate in any way they want. Or just a more general check in, ‘Just want to check in with everybody, how’s this going? I know that Joe here has been talking for most of the time. Which, no problem, but is that okay with everybody? Or what would you like to do?’ You know, always keeping the responsibility with them to make the choices.


This is one where I think, again, the big potential of mediation is if there is a power imbalance for that weaker party to say, ‘Yea. You know what? You’ve kind of been pulling your authority over me for years now and here we are in this mediation session and again you’re doing all the talking. Well, I’m not going to take it anymore. You know what?


You’ve got to listen to me for once.’ And then that’s awesome. That would be an awesome moment in a mediation. If I were prevented, if I were to say, ‘Okay, I want you to have equal time. Steve, go ahead’, I’m interfering with that cool stuff that could happen.

About the mediator

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As a teacher and practitioner of the transformative approach, Dan helps parties have a constructive conversation about their differences. He received his law degree, cum laude, from the University of Minnesota School of Law, his M.A. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Minnesota, and his B.A., with honors, from the University of California at Berkeley. Although he is licensed to practice law in Minnesota, he prefers to practice mediat... View Mediator