Transformative Mediation
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  • 1. Brown Bag Series Transforming Conflict in Mediation--Learnings for Everyday NegotiationP Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. President
  • 2. Conflict as People See it- and not as Organizationsperceive it
  • 3. Reasons for ConflictTop reasons for splitting up: Power Struggles Over Decisions & Resources Dysfunctional Communication Conflict over Personality Styles AddictionSpecific Issues Reported in Conflict Studies: Lack of Commitment High Level of Conflict Infidelity
  • 4. First Thoughts on Conflict♦ Conflicts Specific to Workplace, Organizations, Marriages etc.♦ How Issues differ in different settings♦ Those involved, system
  • 5. Is Litigation the Only Answer?Other options are available…Many People do not knowTheir options.♦ Reasons for re-consideration. Values and Commitment Stability Long Term Relationships/Partnerships Financial Issues Termination of Organizational Benefits
  • 6. Exercise: (in groups) What isConflict as You and yourColleague Experiences it?♦ Think about your own conflict, and what was it that was most difficult?♦ What was valuable? Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. All Rights Reserved 2011
  • 7. Transformative ConflictTheory •Conflict is a crisis in human interaction, and •People sometimes need help in overcoming this crisis and restoring constructive interaction.
  • 8. The Experience of Conflict♦ Relative Weakness (confusion, fear, disorganization, vulnerability, powerlessness, uncertainty, indecisiveness)♦ Relative self-absorption (self-protection, defensiveness, suspicion, hostility, closed- mindedness)
  • 9. The Negative ConflictCycle•Negative dynamics feed a vicious cycle, and•Interaction between the parties degenerates--becoming destructive, alienating, and dehumanizing.
  • 10. Changing ConflictInteraction
  • 11. The Empowerment Shift♦ Weakness to Strength – Unsettled to… Calmer – Confused to… Clearer – Fearful to… More confident – Disorganized to… More focused – Unsure to… More decisive
  • 12. The Recognition Shift♦ Self-absorbed to Responsive – Self-protective to… more attentive – Defensive to… more open – Suspicious to… more trusting – Limited in perspective to … more able to see other’s viewpoint.
  • 13. The Relational World ViewSees human beings as . . – Social and connected – Moral impulse toward balancing strength of self and compassion towards others – Capacities – Valuing the quality of interaction with others
  • 14. Upstream Effects♦ A Transformative Approach can strengthen the couple’s personal capacity for analysis and decision-making (the "empowerment" effect).♦ A Transformative Approach can increase the couple’s willingness and ability to see and appreciate the other partner’s perspective different from his/her own (the "recognition" effect).
  • 15. Upstream Effects♦ The individual perceives more choices and feels increased control over their situation.♦ The individual feels less defensive and they are more likely to believe they can resolve problems on their own.♦ The individual perceives an improvement in how they relate to one another.
  • 16. Transformative Mediator’s Goals♦ To improve the quality of their decision-making and communication, subject to their own choices and limits.♦ Fostering empowerment and recognition, the mediation process itself can result not only in resolutions of the couple’s immediate problems but also in significant changes in their personal capacities for self-determination and responsiveness to each other--that is, decision-making and communication--both in the specific situation and beyond.♦ Adapted from R.A.B. Bush, "The Unexplored Possibilities of Community Mediation, " 21 LAW AND SOCIAL INQUIRY 715 (1996)
  • 17. “Shifts” HappenBut despite negative results of conflict,people have the ability to rebound whileconflict unfolds through:Empowerment  personal strength or self-confidenceRecognition  openness or responsiveness to the other. Louise Phipps Senft, 2008 All Rights Reserved
  • 18. Dynamic CyclesEmpowerment Creating the context Exploring Exploring the possibilities Deliberating situation Recognition Making decisions Richard Michael Reyes, 2003
  • 19. Recognizing SuccessEmpowerment shifts - when partners: – Address each other directly – Turn to each other – Grow more articulate and fluent – Express more emotion – Show more confidence – Are less dismissive toward the other
  • 20. Recognizing SuccessRecognition shifts - when partners: – Talk to - rather than about each other – Listen more - and more attentively – Interrupt each other less – Acknowledge new information heard – Attribute better intentions to the other – Apologize to the other
  • 21. CONFLICT THEORY BURNETT, MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 22. Conflict Is Inevitable, But…♦ We can anticipate conflict.♦ We can engage in conflict.♦ We can acknowledge reality in their lives.♦ We can empower the couple through recognition.♦ We can see opportunities presented by conflict. NW BURNETT, MA 2010 All Rights Reserved
  • 23. CONFLICT, CHAOS &CHANGE:♦ Conflict is Always A Companion to Change♦ Change Produces Imbalances In Our Life♦ Change, Positive Or Negative, Creates Chaos♦ BUT…♦ Chaos is the fertile ground required for Transformation.♦ Risk is a critical ingredient for solutions.♦ CHANGE THE DANCE..AND CHANGE THE SYSTEM NW BURNETT, MA 2010 All Rights Reserved
  • 24. Power DynamicsWE ALL HAVE POWER…. & IT’S ALL ABOUT THE POWER Each partner exercises power in the coupleship EACH EMPLOYS DIFFERENT STYLES & TACTICS TO EXERCISE POWERQuestions that arise in conflict?:♦ Who has control?♦ Perceived power imbalance?♦ How do I get them to stop?♦ Who gets to make the decision?♦ Why do they have an impact on me?♦ Who is in charge? Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. & Nan W aller Burnettt MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 26. Personal Empowerment Means….♦ Having the information, the authority, taking responsibility and being free to act in your life♦ It also means accepting the other and taking responsibility for your actions…moved by the impact on others. Louise Phipps Senft, Esq., and Nan Waller Burnett, MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 27. First Intervention MediationEmployees/managers choosing a transformative process and mediators choosing a relational approach can empower people to act assertively in their lives. Sometimes miracles happen… and conflict gets resolved… Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. & Nan Waller Burnett, MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 28. TRANSFORMATIVE PROCEDURES FIRST SESSION♦ How did you get to this mediation table?♦ What has been your experience in this organization?♦ Is there an opportunity to re-examine this relationship? {This can never be forced.}♦ Offering space to make decisions about the way they will engage♦ As a mediator, what might make this hard for you to do?♦ Discuss in your small groups. Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. & Nan Waller Burnett, MA All Rights Reserved 2011
  • 29. John Gottman’s Research♦ 4 Ways People Fight – Conflict? What conflict? – Discuss calmly and resolve – Agree to disagree – Fiery..Resolve…it’s over. When colleagues do have compatible conflict styles or agree on the procedure for resolution Organizational Trouble is the Result
  • 30. Louis Coser’s Research♦ The functions of Social Conflict – Cross-stitching research – Importance of non-linear approaches – Complexity theory – Problem solving is too simple; marital conflict is not a 2 dimensional dispute
  • 32. COACHING FORORGANIZATIONS♦ A anticipated part of the process of marital mediation is active coaching during the session. Communication strategies are essential.♦ Role playing and Gestalt concepts are powerful during the session. Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. & Nan Waller Burnett, MA All Rights Reserved 2011
  • 33. Conflict Coaching at the TableOffer 4 options:♦ Try To Change The Other.♦ Try To Alter The Situational Conflict Conditions.♦ Try To Change Yourself, How You View The Other, the Issue, the Situation.♦ Try To Change Your Interaction. Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. & Nan Waller Burnett, MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 34. Avoidance & Boundary Violations♦ The Most Common Behaviors Which Lead to Dissolutions OR Litigation
  • 35. The Fuel of Conflict: AvoidanceAvoidance – not being willing to stay engaged in important discussions. Resolution never occurs.Avoidance behaviors: Ignoring the other Leaving the room Refusing to negotiate, get even Agreeing at first, then not complying [passive aggression] Memory denial, ignoring others’ needs Blowing the situation out of proportion to avert real engagement. Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. & Nan Waller Burnett, MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 36. BOUNDARIES:What is a boundary? creates a strong sense of self are positive and define us show us where we stop and the other begins♦ Boundaries in troubled relationships are often too loose or too rigid♦ Boundary violations are common and can be expected♦ Trampling boundaries are the number one cause of conflict in relationships NW Burnett, MA 2010 All Rights Reserved
  • 37. BOUNDARIES and AVOIDANCELoose boundaries and avoidance? When it is hard to establish and maintain appropriate boundaries.Avoidance then becomes normal. Co-workers find it hard to ask for what they need. Avoidance is followed by yes when they mean no. This always produces repetitive conflict. Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. & Nan Waller Burnett, MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 38. BOUNDARIES and AVOIDANCERigid boundaries and avoidance? The relationship is so shut down people are reluctant to even begin communication . This shuts down their emotions. The result is all conversation is avoided.Avoidance also becomes normal in this system. Avoidance can be followed by rage and competition and produces repetitive conflict. NW Burnett, MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 39. Coaching for De-escalation♦ If you “up the ante”… communications get worse and worse♦ If you take the negative approach… it spirals into increasing anger and frustration♦ If you shame and blame… it is always answered with defense and protection. NW Burnett, MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 40. Mediator COACHING Teaching Effective Conflict Engagement– Name what you see in a compassionate tone– Suspend any judgment– Intervene surgically to reflect the reality– Intervene at precise decision making opportunities, ask open ended questions– Allow oxygen to the brain– Offer opportunity for any personal insight to be expressed– Invite a redo if necessary
  • 41. Transformation:Coaching Anger Into CollaborationHELPFUL GUIDELINES:♦ Listen with respect, even if you have none.♦ Assume nothing, even if you think you know.♦ Ask for more information before reacting.♦ Keep an open mind & stop pushing your point.♦ Express hope and hold the belief that solutions are possible.♦ Have an earnest intent to work out the differences.♦ Why?... Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. & Nan Waller Burnett, MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 42. Exercise♦ In small group brainstorm 3 transformative interventions? “What if a miracle happened and you…” Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. & Nan Waller Burnett, MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 43. What is TRANSFORMATION?:♦ When you interface with a couple in the middle of their conflict and use the conflict as the convertible energy to engage the parties in a constructive process which promotes deeper understanding and makes the relationship better than it was before, even if it leads to dissolution. Louise Phipps Senft, Esq. & Nan Waller Burnett, MA 2011 All Rights Reserved
  • 44. Q&A