I was recently a guest presenter and role play coach at Twin Cities Mediation’s civil and family mediation trainings. It is always reinvigorating to teach mediation and see others’ enthusiasm for the possibility of offering those in conflict a real solution and way to improve their lives.
Both trainings were attended by not only attorneys but a variety of other professionals as well: a school principal, police officer now working in the mental health area, yoga instructor, therapists of various types, and more. I noticed that no matter their background, participants shared the realization that mediation (and the transformative model in particular) offers a useful way to help others at a basic human level.
Training participants observed that mediation is widely applicable to the conflict that is all around (and within) us. I attribute the broad appeal of the transformative approach to its acknowledgement that we all experience conflict the same way – as a threat to our ability to function as our highest self.
The experience of conflict manifests in different ways for different people, and may be expressed outwardly as anger, fear, frustration, yelling, checking out, attacking others, sadness, impasse, inability to process information, irrational behavior, and more. Because conflict is so prevalent, learning how to address the root of the conflict is refreshing to all of us – especially those of us in “helping” professions.
No matter their field or background, training participants expressed gratitude that they learned such a practical approach to conflict, a way to shift their clients’ destructive interaction. In addition to acting as a mediator in the future, many noticed ways they can incorporate mediation techniques in their work and personal lives – including success in applying transformative mediation skills to interactions and conversations with their children!
The internal focus on restructuring the conflict interaction itself – rather than seeking only an agreement on the external issues – is part of what sets the transformative model of mediation apart from other approaches to mediation. This ability to change conflict interaction also makes transformative mediation so widely useful across professions.