The Mediation Times

 

Being a mediator – some tips from the Buddha

by Amanda on January 18, 2008

Strictly speaking this post doesn’t belong in the thinking zone as it is more about “being” than thinking or doing!

There are many buddhist practices which are extremely useful when preparing for a mediaton and during a mediation. There are other eastern based philosophies and practices which can also be very helpful and which I have incorporated into advanced skills training over the last three years or so based on my research. Tai Chi is another example which is particularly useful in understanding how to deal with resistance.

In a recent mediation, one of the parties was represented by someone who was undoubtedly very bright but extremely bullying and manipulative. As it became clear to him that his bullying and manipulation were not working, he became extreme – almost manic – in his attempts to overpower. There were several choices for me (and my co-mediator): listen and not react (tends to fuel the aggression), listen and be assertive (that becomes a game, they feed off the responses), walk out or withdraw from the mediation (all the other parties suffer and in this case nearly 40 people would have been affected) or look like you are listening but tune out until the ‘noise stops’. The last one might work for you but it can also have the effect of fueling more of the same at a later stage.

In the example I gave you I used the practice of mindfulness. I wasn’t perfect and possibly because I am aware of the fact that bad manners amongst professionals can really push my buttons sometimes! However, the more I was aware that I was practicing it the more effective it was for me.

This was an extreme case and generally it not usually necessary to deal with such behaviour. However, rather like the pilot who managed a perfect crash landing at Heathrow this week, dealing with an emergency with consummate professionalism and skill requires being in the moment every moment.

For anyone who is interested in exploring this idea further, you might be interested in an introductory article just published by Harvard. You will find the article at http://www.news.harvard.edu/gazette/2007/11.15/13-buddha.html

1 comments
Nancy E. Hudgins
Nancy E. Hudgins

Hi, Amanda!
I just found your blog through Diane Levin at >. I'm enjoying scrolling through it.
I learned a new strategy from Daniel Bowling, a well-respected mediator in the U.S., recently. Daniel suggested using metta meditation before mediations. At the time, I had a divorcing couple as clients and I seemed not to be able to communicate well with the wife. I tried a metta mediatation before the next mediation session we had. I'm pleased to say that we had a much better connection.
Best,
Nancy

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