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    GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION – WHY? GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION – WHY?

    GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION – WHY?

GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION – WHY?

I have been a Group Facilitator and Mediator for nearly 28 years. When I started in the field in 1987, it was new to me and new to everyone I encountered. I was fortunate to have a sponsor for my training and early years of work in the field in Jefferson County, Colorado. The County retained me as a full-time mediator and facilitator for large land use proposals (mining operations, recreational sites, landfills, hazardous waste sites, etc.). It was a baptism of fire for a conflict resolution professional, but it allowed me to devote all of my professional energies to this fascinating field. As I gained more experience in the field and grew to respect the positive results of the process, I thought that more and more people in all walks of life would come around to using mediation as a way to solve all manner of conflicts. This has happened, but to a much more limited extent than I had hoped. Too many good mediators have left the field because they could not find enough clients. So, I would like to once more make the case for what has been come to be known as alternative dispute resolution or ADR (alternative because it does not follow the typical path of using confrontation in the courts – or other venues – to solve problems).

There are so many reasons for using ADR that I know I will not remember all of them, here. However, all of the reasons are compelling ones. Many of you reading this will probably say: “Why didn’t he list that reason?” All this tells […]

By |July 2nd, 2015|Group Facilitation Denver, Mediation|Comments Off on GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION – WHY?

GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION – A Few Words about Neutrality, Part III

To finish the discussion about mediator neutrality (or impartiality – an equivalent term for purposes of this discussion), I’d like to discuss how a conflict resolution professional might react when his neutrality is challenged during a long-term, multi-party mediation or facilitation. This has happened to me more than once doing environmental/public policy work. These challenges have been made, for the most part, for strategic reasons. Simply withdrawing from the case was never really an option (as one might do for a limited, one-meeting case).

In many complex, multi-party mediations, one or more of the parties are fighting a delaying action and do not want the negotiations to result in a compromise or consensus agreement. They want the other side to lose, pure and simple. If the mediator has to deal with complicating factors (beyond simply managing productive meetings), the process will become more cumbersome, it will slow down and may ultimately stall from its own inertia. One complicating factor is an accusation that the mediator is biased toward one side of the dispute or another. Such an accusation may be made to the other members of the group, to the mediator’s superiors and, perhaps most seriously, to the press. Any mediator who wishes to continue facilitating the group’s discussions must respond effectively to the challenge without actively engaging the party making it.

I’ll start with the challenge to the group. Since I spent several years as a neutral who was paid by County government, parties sometimes charged me with advancing the county planning agenda. The county and I had anticipated this situation by putting me outside the chain of command of the planning […]

By |May 14th, 2015|Group Facilitation Denver|Comments Off on GROUP FACILITATION AND MEDIATION – A Few Words about Neutrality, Part III