There is nothing like training new mediators to bring you out of autopilot and to bring alive the challenge we have in conveying what we practice. From the students’ point of view, they want to know exactly what is appropriate and what is not so that they can build their competence to a standard that will lead to accreditation. From the trainer’s point of view, the challenge of bringing a set of rules to a flexible process, is a very real one. So when a student asks “is is right to…? The answer is invariably “it depends…”
For people who come from a background of facts and evidence this is like catching jelly with an egg cup or trying to put handcuffs on an octopus! If you see mediation as a process and not an event and that you need to make the transition from judgment of others to judging appropriate action and interventions in yourself then it is not such a conundrum. Mediation is a process and “appropriate action (or inaction)” depends on what has gone before and where the parties want to get to. Our skills are in the moment-by-moment awareness of what will work and still keeping the big picture in mind.
Thanks to Jane Gunn for reminding me of a training course we did where one participant answered the question: “what is the most important thing you have learned on the course?” with “it depends!” It raised the roof with laughter!