I am about halfway through a new book on mediation and wanted to immediately urge both mediators and those who use the services of mediators to read Challenging Conflict. The book deftly explains each stage and skill of the understanding-based model of mediation with complete how-tos and whys. For those not familiar with the understanding-based model, it stresses the value of joint sessions, and the right and responsibility of the parties to resolve the dispute.
From the book:
Mediation is a voluntary process in which the parties make decisions together based on the understanding of their own views, each other's, and the reality they face. The mediator works as a non-coercive neutral to help the parties negotiate an agreement that serves them better than their alternatives.
One feature of the book that I am particularly valuing is the ten examples of mediations that are woven throughout to illustrate points being made about the model and the philosophy of the authors. Frequently the reader is allowed inside the mediations to "hear" what was said by the mediator and parties. These stories and dialogues add beating-heart reality to the authors' thoughtful wisdom.
When I have finished the book, I will write a more complete review but wanted to give you all a heads up to start reading. Even if you are an experienced mediator, reading this book will result in much learning and thinking. What is presented in this book by two veteran mediators is not the norm or status quo in today's world of mediation. Bravo!
The book is not available through Amazon but is easily available through the ABA. Click here now to buy Challenging Conflict: Mediation Through Understanding. Or buy here from the Project on Negotiation at Harvard Law School.
Note (added March 30, 2009): A post about the book (Human Side of Conflict). The blogger says she will be adding other blogs about the book; I believe she means posts. Although a whole blog about the book sounds like a fine idea.