What is Mediation?
Mediation is a conflict resolution process facilitated by a neutral third party. While the third party controls the process of the mediation, the parties control the content and outcome of the mediation. This process allows each party to fully express themselves and hear the concerns of the other party then brainstorm possible solutions. The result is a written document that codifies the agreements made in the mediation.
In contrast to other forms of conflict resolution like arbitration, mediation taps the wisdom and energy of the parties in conflict. Mediation provides a structured process to take the sometimes sour “lemons” of conflict and turn them into “lemonade”-like growth opportunities.
Who can benefit from mediation?
Any parties that want to resolve their differences without giving up or giving in can benefit from participating in mediation. Both parties must be willing to come to the table to share what they want and listen to the other’s desieres. In working with people in intimate relationships, familiar relationship, and business relationships and I have witnessed the power we all hold to find creative solutions that result in harmony and peace.
What is my background in mediation?
I worked as a mediator and Board Chair for the Restorative Justice Mediation Program (formerly the Victim Offender Reconciliation Program) from 1997-2000. In this capacity I mediated over 20 cases involving youthful offenders referred through the San Diego County Probation Department and their victims. These cases usually involved crimes such as vandalism, petty, theft, or simple battery. Time and again, I experienced the power of the mediation process to help people understand each other’s motives and find ways to heal their differences.
In the San Diego Region, I also worked as the East County Coordinator for the National Conflict Resolution Center (formerly the San Diego Mediation Center) talking to community members interested in participating in mediations, doing outreach to potential partners and clients, and mediating cases in the City of El Cajon Small Claims Court. One afternoon, I successfully mediated three cases which helped people settle their disputes without going before a judge.
Through this work, I spoke to several individuals who had been in conflict with another person for years and were hopeless about resolving their differences. I was able to empathize with them and educate them about the benefits of mediation. In the process, I enhanced my appreciation for mediation as an effective approach to creating solutions that are mutually-satisfying.
What is my approach to Mediation?
I utilize my extensive experience and my training in Nonviolent Communication to connect disputants with one another in mediations. I believe that encouraging disputants to truly understand the motives of those they disagree with helps create a connection that inevitably leads to solutions.
My process involves empathizing with each party (understanding the needs motivating their behavior) and helping them to hear the needs (or interests) underneath each other’s strategies (or positions). Once a connection is made, the next step is to brainstorm solutions that meet all the needs or interests. The final step involves codifying the agreements in a document.