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“Humanistic” mediation: Another approach to manage and settle disputes?

Jan 11, 2012

from the entry by Christophe Imhoos on Kluwer Mediation Blog:

....Greek tragedy tends to express human pain and grief. So does mediation in a post-modern world that rejects feelings and emotions. Today politic does not address human needs: people move from an established to a negotiated order. This can be expressed through a ritualized practice, inspired from Greek tragedy that comprises the three following phases:

  • the theoria which is where parties in conflict express their respective grievances; the mediator makes at the end a summary of the parties’ points of views;
  • the crisis which is the confrontation of the pain of each party; the mediator here encourages the parties to express their emotions and feelings through the “mirror” technique; this is the place where, often, violence takes place between the participants who then, in the presence of the mediator, begin to take some distance from their emotions and, through mutual knowledge, adopt new attitudes; for this purpose, the mediator focuses the discussion at the level of the participants’ own values;
  • the catharsis which is the overcoming of the pains heard and expressed in the preceding phase: each participant moves from a personal interest to an unselfish (altruistic) level in order to start building up common agreements.

In order to reach such a result, communication must govern the mediation process: participants must speak and talk to each other. They have ro express what has been hidden so far. The mediator uses mainly, as useful and powerful tools, silence and mirror.

The silence gives the necessary space to each participant to interact and to evidence that the mediator is a simple witness of a situation in which is not a concerned party.

The mirror technique consists for the mediator to repeat what has just been expressed, to “mirror” it without any appropriation or characterization. The mediator acts as a catalyst that sends back and forth the problem to the participants in order for the them to have it evacuated.

Jacqueline Morineau practices such a model mainly in restorative justice. Regularly, the Paris Prosecution Offices refer cases to her non-profit association, the Centre de médiation et de formation à la médiation (CMFM – www.cmfm.fr), with outstanding results.

Read the whole entry.

Tip of the hat to Effie Papaioannou and Restorative Justice Discourse.

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