On paradoxes.

All of this is fitting, because I think mediation itself is paradoxical.

1. It’s unnatural yet universal.  Much about mediation feels so counterintuitive. It can feel much easier (and more efficient) to give advice than to elicit solutions from people in conflict.  Reflecting people’s statements can feel just plain weird.  Checking your bias (and your ego) at the door is not so easy.  Despite this, mediation has cropped up all over the world….and while its practice varies from place to place, its success rate (more on that in an upcoming post) is shockingly consistent from country to country, community to community.

2. It’s informal yet structured. A good mediation will feel like a free-flowing conversation…but there’s a lot going on behind the mediator’s imperturbable countenance. There are all kinds of models of mediation, but there’s always some combination of structure, skills, tactics, and techniques undergirding it all.

3. Mediators are invisible yet strangely powerful. “It’s not about me” is one of our mantras. While we don’t want to suppress our personality as mediators, we don’t inject our views, opinions, or ideas.  The less we talk, the better.  And yet, within a couple of hours, we can be catalysts for profound change in people’s lives.


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