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Showing posts from February, 2023

The 'Magic Wand' request

  Close to a decade of delivering conflict resolution workshops has taught me a great deal about how people view conflict. In fact, the lessons start before the workshop delivery itself. My phone rings or an email pings its way into my inbox and I find myself fielding an anxious, and in some cases desperate request for support: “We need help!” “They are out of control”  “We’re dealing with this all the time, it’s non-stop” “We don’t know what to do” These statements don’t always come on first contact, but they inevitably come. I feel empathy for their situation - by the time that an organisation approaches me for help with conflict, be it a school, residential setting, or workplace it’s likely been going on for some time, and likely embedded in the organisational culture. This leads to the individuals of this organisation, not just staff but all affected stakeholders, becoming overwhelmed, hopeless, frustrated and upset. Ongoing and persistent conflict can feel like passing the event h

Learnings of a new(ish) mediator

  An edited version of the following blog entry was originally published in "Mediation Matters - January 2023 - Issue 2" the quarterly newsletter of The University of Strathclyde Mediation Clinic.  Alan Jeffrey is a part-time student in his second year on the Msc Mediation and Conflict  Resolution course at Strathclyde University. He currently works for Cyrenians Mediation  support as a family mediator and workshop facilitator, as well as volunteering for  Strathclyde Mediation Clinic and Lothian and Borders Court Mediation. As I approach the one-year anniversary of my first mediation, a hostile standoff between a furious  mother and a newly homeless teenager, it feels appropriate to reflect on the things I have learned.  Like mediation itself, my thoughts and feelings about the practice can be messy, constantly  shifting and are routinely updated as my experience grows. Yet, here are some of the challenges, thoughts, questions, and topics which have stuck with me  as I begin

"Give me back my conflict"

Conflict - In an arguably defensive and insecure way - is often described as positive, necessary for creativity, motivating and fundamentally essential to growth. And yet, we do everything in our power to shield ourselves and others from it. Furthermore, industries of professionals have been crafted and created to protect us from conflict. Lawyers, judges, arbitrators and more suited and high-heeled individuals grab the difficult part of conflict and take it from us, remove it from our hands and attempt, in what for many is a form of protection, to distance us entirely from it. If not the consequences, certainly the process. Well-meaning in many cases but not without an implicit suggestion that conflict, whilst positive, is too much for the lay-person to handle.   If we felt like getting hyperbolic, and we all do at some point, surely? We could join the late Nils Christie, the Norwegian criminologist and claim that this amounts to conflicts being “stolen” away from the rightful owner b