mediating and meaning

Mediated a dispute between members of a core group in a direct action group. The agreement was to keep the content and fact of the mediation confidential, so I can only talk about the process without any reference to the members of the group or the group.

One member of the group, that had agreed a plan of action and how it would be communicated, broke this agreement. A sub-group was set up to finalise the wording before the call out was publicised. A member decided to publish what they thought best. This annoyed the rest of the sub-group and the larger group that had come to consensus about the nature of the call out.

I spoke to some members of the group by phone and face to face before we met, and ironed out some of the conditions for the mediation. This included finding out who else needed to be involved, and how those involved represented the views of the wider group.

We only had an hour and a half, but spent it clarifying how the issue had arisen and what the underlying needs and motivations were. This helped to clarify where people where coming from, their intentions, how these intentions had been received and how they could be resolved. Those present thought that progress had been made and some initial steps were agreed to take forward this positive momentum.

For those interested in process issues. I began by negotiating the boundaries of confidentiality (I’d keep all confidential, they agreed to share the outputs with the rest of the group), the spirit with which we’d converse (using inquiry, rather than adversarialism) and started the conversation by asking why they thought I was present.

I then used a series of clarifying questions, summarised what I thought I’d heard every now and again and helped them to recognise any momentum that had been gained. I used notes and diagrams to keep track of what was said and destroyed them at the end of the meeting.

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