In this interview (Caucus on Mediation) of long-time mediator Gary Friedman, he answers that question and several others. And in the interview he mentions his forthcoming book Inside Out which will go into the topics of this interview and many more in great depth. I'm looking forward to reading it!
Click on over to the interview to see what Friedman says about how a mediator can prepare to be an effective conflict professional.
The most important thing as a mediator is to understand yourself and to be able to access what’s happening inside you when you’re in the presence of people who are in conflict, and to be able to use that to draw the pathway for the others. What happens, as mediators, is that we often sit together with people and we say to ourselves “Oh, that person is right, that person is wrong, we like that person, we don’t like that person”, and then we say “On, no, I’m neutral”. I pay attention to the feelings that I have inside. The central quality for the mediator is to be able to take the internal reactions we have to people and to be able to use them to understand what they are about, understand ourselves – this is the last part of the “understanding” in our model of mediation – and to be able to turn that in a way where we find ourselves closer to the people we don’t like. Usually, when we have a bad feeling, we don’t like someone, we are angry with someone or we’re upset by him or her, then we lose patience and want to push them away. They feel it. We can’t pretend it’s not there. But we can work with that feeling to understand what it was that generated the negative reaction when we met that person. It’s turning anger and bad feelings into curiosity. We can take the differences we have with other people, which
often threaten us, and say to ourselves: “Let’s explore these differences. Let’s see if I can understand you, we both can still exist”. It’s not a question about whether one of us has the right to be on this planet and the other doesn’t. It’s about how can I become curious about you, to really understand you, who you are and why it is what you do. This is really the central challenge for mediators. We are writing a book about it, it’s called Inside Out: How to help others in conflict. It’s about how to really do this shift, because it’s easy to say, and really hard to do.