How a Regulator became a Mediator and Facilitator – And Why It’s Better!

In 1979, I was hired, fresh out of graduate school with an MS degree in Systems Ecology, by the Mined Land Reclamation Division of the Colorado Department of Natural Resources. I was a “Reclamation Specialist”. Over the next eight years, I advanced to the level of a “Senior Reclamation Specialist” in charge of a small staff of other similar professionals who oversaw the permitting and regulation of all of the known non-coal mines in the south half of Colorado. I reported to a chain of command that included a Division Director and a Mined Land Reclamation Board (as appointed by the Governor), which had a public meeting on a monthly basis. My duties included supervision of my staff of three specialists who reviewed reclamation permit applications from mining companies; visited mines in the field to check for compliance with their permit requirements, finding unpermitted mining operations and consulting with miners on the best way to comply with their permits and making presentations to the monthly meetings of the Board, whose members had to rule on all of our activities. I not only supervised these activities, I engaged in all of them myself. We were always busy. In short, I was an environmental regulator.

In the culture in which I worked, the “regulator’s regulator” was someone who was diligent in finding those who did not comply with the detailed regulations (whether by total non-compliance – mining without a permit – or by falling short of the standards defined by regulation and their permit) and making sure the miscreants were found, cited, fined and perhaps even closed down under a cease and desist order issued by the Board. Suffice to say that regulators who lived strictly by […]

By |December 6th, 2015|Group Facilitation Denver, Mediation|Comments Off on How a Regulator became a Mediator and Facilitator – And Why It’s Better!
  • detoxifying language in mediation group facilitation denver
    GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION: Detoxifying Language GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION: Detoxifying Language

    GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION: Detoxifying Language

GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION: Detoxifying Language

As a veteran Group Facilitator and Mediator, I often deal with people who are very angry and intemperate with the words they direct toward other parties to the discussion who they perceive to be on the other side of the issue in dispute (or even consider those other people to be the entire cause of the problem). The use of toxic language results in two things that are antithetical to the conflict resolution process. First, it shuts of dialogue between or among the parties. Those on the receiving end of the aggression typically react in kind, and true dialogue is lost. Second, the discussion then becomes focused on the angry discourse between the parties, and issues are not revealed, recorded and discussed. In this situation, the job of the mediator is at least twofold: detoxify the language and, in the process, clarify the real issue(s) for the parties. I have engaged in this activity so much during my career, that I have developed a segment about it that I use whenever I do conflict resolution training.

I will illustrate my methodology by using my favorite example from community mediation. Two neighbors, both men, were in conflict about the perception that one of them (and allegedly others in the neighborhood) were driving too fast (and therefore, unsafely) on residential streets. At the beginning of the mediation session, the man who had the concern turned to the other party and said: “You speed through the neighborhood like a crazy man and don’t care how many kids you kill!” As might be expected, the recipient of this invective recoiled and was about to launch a verbal counterstrike. I held up my hand toward the alleged crazed speeder to […]

By |September 23rd, 2015|Group Facilitation Denver, Mediation|Comments Off on GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION: Detoxifying Language