The Mediation Times


CIArb Mediator Symposium: A chance to explore new skills

by Amanda on October 2, 2011

The 4th CIArb Mediator Symposium is coming up on 19th October in London. Past events have been extremely popular because of the combination of thoughtful opinion, a choice of 6 practical workshops and networking.

This year I will be doing two workshops which are really focused on extending skills.

The first is The Myth of Reality Testing with Charles Middleton-Smith. The arises from a number of observations: the way in which we simplify things in the pursuit of ‘tools for the toolbox’ and misconstrue the intention: increased resistance from parties to what we call reality testing and the observation that mediations are taking longer to settle and it is tempting for mediators to use what we call reality testing with some force. I realise this is a ‘holy cow’ of mediation!

The second is Improvisation Skills for Mediators with Sartaj Garewal. I have written often on the relationship of mediation to jazz, music, photography and the benefit of adopting some of the approaches that musicians and actors learn to extend their skills. I was very fortunate to learn some of these skills from a master of improvisation, the late Ken Campbell. Sartaj Garewal is a popular actor who has also worked with me on other mediation projects. Concurrently with his acting commitments, he offers coaching in presentation and performance skills.

Here are the descriptions and if you are interested in attending, you can see the full programme here and you can register online here.

The Myth of Reality Testing:

This workshop proposes that reality testing as a means of engaging the parties in a desire to settle the case is a myth and that the approaches generally practised by mediators in the name of reality testing can undermine successful outcomes. Drawing on insights from practical experience and research in the fields of behavioural science, neuroscience and psychology, we explore the relevance of mediator skill and experience, commercial, economic and political contexts and how and why the pursuit of tools for the toolbox and techniques to be deployed has reduced reality testing to something which is increasingly counter-productive.

The workshop examines the proposition through examples and discussion. Participants will have the opportunity to complete exercises to develop their personal style for exploring assumptions and effective risk assessment.

Improvisation Skills for Mediators

Prepare, prepare, prepare! Have a plan, give the parties structure and always be at the ready to think of a new plan!

The only thing a mediator can be certain of is that the mediation day will be a day of uncertainty and surprises. Not all of them welcome.

The art of improvisation is extremely useful for mediators. It is the capacity to build on whatever is presented to you to keep momentum and maintain a safe environment. Looking “where you are going” and responding in the moment is the nature of improvisation. Leaning into uncertainty, managing your responses and maintaining equilibrium or ‘deliberate calm’ helps bring a feeling of comfort to the parties. That capacity is also the mark of an experienced mediator.

This workshop is predominantly ‘hands on’ to help you improve your skills and confidence: skills you can use tomorrow.

Amanda and Sartaj will reprise active listening, reframing and rapport building skills. The workshop offers you an opportunity to recalibrate and expand your understanding and effective practice of those skills, in the moment.


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