From November 6-11, 2011, The Mediation Board of Trinidad & Tobago is observing “Mediation Week” by hosting a number of activities designed to educate people about and highlight the utility of mediation. As far as I am concerned, and I readily admit my bias, EVERY week should be mediation week!
Divorce mediation, peer mediation, elder mediation, online mediation, mediation conducted by an organizational ombudsman are just a few of the applications of this extremely versatile tool. Better communication, better understanding and better relationships are just a few of the benefits. We all ascribe to values such as respect, tolerance, courtesy, openness and cooperativeness (or at least we say that we do!). What better way to live those values than to utilize a conflict resolution technique which embodies them all!
I want to pose a challenge to each of you. Wherever you may now reside, I want you to observe “mediation week” along with Trinidad & Tobago—6 days during which you actively promote mediation as a means to prevent and resolve conflict and also conduct your dealings with others in accordance with the values promoted by the mediation process.
To all my readers in the legal profession, because mediation is still seen as a tool used primarily in the justice system, you have a special responsibility with respect to its propagation. Take a long hard look at how your practice is organized. Are you doing enough to educate your clientele about mediation and its benefits? If you do not already have any literature in your waiting room about what mediation is all about then download some information and print a simple flyer. Make it a point to discuss mediation as an option with your clients when you are counseling them.
To all my readers in other industries—banking, social services, manufacturing et al—when conflict arises in your department, you can suggest mediation as a means of resolution. If you are the one in conflict, you can use meditative skills like active listening and open questioning to try to understand the interests behind the other party’s position. “Engage brain before putting mouth in gear”!
Finally, you might all want to look into getting some conflict management or mediation training to increase your own knowledge and to sharpen your skills!