Monster derives from the Latin word monstrum, which in turn derives from the root monere (to warn). To be a monster is to be an omen.
--Stephen T. Asma, On Monsters: An Unnatural History of Our Worst Fears
Then let me tell you what got me thinking about monsters in the context of mediation. Recently I found an article written about a mediation training at which I assisted back in 1988. The lead trainer was Gary Friedman whom I had invited to New Mexico to conduct the seminar. In reading the article written so long ago, I was reminded of what is often missing in the mediation of today.
The article included several principles of the mediation model being taught at this Santa Fe seminar:
- "The most important aim of mediation, Friedman said, is 'empowering the parties.' He encouraged mediators to resist every attempt by parties to burden the mediator with the responsibilities that the parties themselves need to assume."
- "The voluntariness of mediation is one of its most empowering aspects, he said. The fact that either party may leave at any time is crucial to the process."
- "'Bringing in law relevant to a particular case requires the mediator to walk a thin line between, on the one hand, viewing law as determining outcome, and, on the other hand, viewing it as irrelevant,' he explained." The role it will play is up to the disputants.
- "The mediator needs 'inner freedom' to help the parties, Friedman indicated. That freedom is achieved by the mediator's awareness of his or her own reaction and biases." Both introspection and self-awareness are very important to the skill of a mediator and the success of the process.
Click to read the whole article: "Mediation Course for Lawyers Stresses Empowerment Of Parties" (BNA's ADR Report).
These four factors—party empowerment; voluntariness; law as, at the most, only one factor to be considered in resolution; and mediator self-awareness—probably have not increased in the field of mediation since 1988. In fact, there are many who would say they have decreased, and that the process has become more