Human’s are storytellers, we use our stories to make sense of our lives and our relationships.
A New Approach to Conflict Resolution, Winslade & Monk
This section presented by:
What is Narrative Mediation?
Narrative mediation depends on the stories that parties in
conflict use in the construction of their point of view.
According to Winslade and Monk the “emphasis is on how the
story operates to create reality rather than on whether it
reports accurately on that reality.” pg 3.
Tightly Woven Stories…
Since conflict parties tell their own stories, they are often bound
up with bias, judgment and accusation. It is the narrative
mediator’s job to open up the space in their “tightly woven”
stories by destabilizing the descriptions
in order to undermine the negative
components of the conflict…this is
accomplished through the creation
1. Build Trust in the Mediator and Mediation Process (pg. 6.)
- Respectful Listening
- Taking stories seriously
- Avoiding assumptions
The following video is an example of how you should not build
Externalizing conversations allow the mediator and conflict
parties to reconstruct the conflict in less accusatory terms.
Instead of saying “your divorce” say “the divorce.”
Instead of saying “your conflict” say “this conflict.”
This process can help to remove blame and defensiveness from
Construct Solution Bound Narratives
Co-Author a story, based on previous accounts of the parties working
together. This deconstructs negative perceptions and also allows the
visualization of cultural messages that may be affecting the conflict, this is
deconstructing dominant discourses. When you can successfully co-author a
solution you can begin to build on previous positive experiences. While the
two mediators in the below clip attempt to create a solution bound
narrative….they don’t do a great job. What would you do differently?
By uncovering the context, cultural influences and “emerging
discourses” of a conflict we can create new discourses for the
parties that encourages moving toward consensus.
The role of the narrative mediator is to guide the conflict parties
in helping them to develop and elaborate on a new story for the
Theoretical & Philosophical Issues
in Narrative Mediation – Chap 2
Social Construction (Burr)
1. Anti – Essentialism
2. Anti – Realism
3. Language as Pre-condition for thought
4. Language as a form of social action
A Narrative View of Conflict (pg
1. Influenced by Post-Modern Philosophical Movement.
- Emphasis on variation in human life: There is no objective truth,
Reality is a social construct, Diversity/Plurality of life.
- Conflict thus arises out of a lack of access to “truth” or “facts”
about a situation (P.O.V.)
In a sense, people “Have their story and are sticking to it…”
Conflict is an inevitable product of power.
Discourse exploration is used in narrative mediation in order to
depersonalize conflict (42). It allows us to see the patters and
meaning within our interactions and within our reality.
Deconstruction is taking apart the larger component in order to
see how each individual piece contributes to the big picture.
Multiple Subjectivity & Nature of Self
Humans are complex beings, our identities are not fixed. Our
contexts shape our stories and how we make sense of them.
Narrative mediation allows us to reconstruct the interpretations
of our identities and our stories.
It is important to realize that complexity is not an enemy, it
allows for more possibilities within the process of resolution.
The Politics of Mediation (47)
Neutrality vs. Impartiality: Mediators are influenced by their
own contexts when they interact with conflict parties. As such it
is vital to recognize bias as a factor. Mediators must be
impartial – refraining from favoring one side over the other.
The question remains – Should mediators influence more
powerful parties, Why or Why not? Give examples.
The Narrative Metaphor (52)
Humans construct intention and enact their meanings.
When you encounter conflict it is because you have two
conflicting narratives playing out.
There are always two (or more) sides to every story.
These conflict stories can take on a life of their own and go in
directions that are different, based on the storytellers context.
The task of narrative mediation is then to help them co-author a
narrative in which they share the context.
Questions & Activity
How do narrative mediators view conflict?
Should mediators influence more powerful parties, Why or
Why not? Give examples.
What would you say is the most powerful technique or
approach in narrative mediation?
Pick a television show that you enjoy in which there has been a
significant conflict between at least two characters. Create a
narrative of the conflict for each character, 1-2 pages.
Works cited/Additional Links
• Winslade J & Monk G. (2001). Narrative Mediation: A New
Approach to Conflict Resolution. San Franciso: Jossey-Bass. Chps 1-2.
• The Wedding Crashers, http://youtu.be/jLWTFhiqYog
• Building Trust Fail, http://youtu.be/9v3tBkh15SQ
• Narratives and Storytelling in conflicts and conflict resolution,
• Center for the Study of Narrative and Conflict Resolution,