Mediation and NVC Discussion Group Notes
7-26-01, Bellingham WA

Some of the participant Emails:
Suzanna McCarthy s u z a n n a m c c AT DOMAIN hotmail~com
David R. McCain d a v i d _ h o o p s AT DOMAIN yahoo~com
Kathi Aichner I r i s h L a s s i AT DOMAIN aol~com
Suska Davis S u s k a d a AT DOMAIN usa~net
Herbert Warunbie c o n t a c t AT DOMAIN h-warumbie~de
Jim&jeri Manske p e a c e w o r k s AT DOMAIN quest~net
Dieter Schugt s c h u g t s d s AT DOMAIN NAS~COM
Philip Blagg p h i l i p b l a g g AT DOMAIN bigplanet~com
Gina Laurie g l AT DOMAIN ykvo~com
Kit Miller k i t d a v e AT DOMAIN frontiernet~mt
Holly Eckert v v i o l i n AT DOMAIN aolcom
Pam Prichard P a m e l a . P R I C H A R D AT DOMAIN state~or~us

Mediation Strategy Tips:

Tip: Giving offender empathy first in victim offender mediation works well
Tip: Can use terminology restorative justice mediation vs. victim offender
Tip: Possible to step out of box and share one's own feelings as mediator when unusual situation calls for it, e.g., sharing with participants one's own sadness about difficulty finding way to mutually meet needs and desire to do so.
Tip: I particularly difficult issues, give each party a coach to meet with individually.
Tip: In family mediation/therapy, staff plays roles of family members and family members direct them as to what to say.
Tip: Often caucuses called due to mediators fear of conflict and need to contain it. Gary Freedman offers training in mediation...part of training allowed one participant to be aware of this and use fewer caucuses, allowing participants to hear more of communication.
Still important to let multiple person parties, couples etc., have time to talk about possible agreements and see if it works for them.

Information from Jim and Jori's experience of one-day workshop offered by Marshall recently for mediators in New Mexico and their use of the technique in mediations they have done. Marshall's training was sponsored by local mediation organizations.

Role of mediator is to translate all dialogue into giraffe. Intent of mediator pre-mediation is to connect with people there and find a way to meet everyone's needs.

40-word guideline. Never spend more than 40 words in observation/feeling/need/request process as lose people with too many words, i.e., get to the request within 40 words or less

After the introduction, skip traditional telling of story by each side and go directly to identifying participant's needs. Can write on board or flip chart so participants focus on this common direction of determining needs and later resolving them rather than on each other.

Can ask, "What needs aren't being met?"..."Who has a need that's not being met?"

Empathize with feelings and needs while you list them. Translate into giraffe and ask them "Did I get it" before you write it up. For example if participant says, "I don't want my ex-husband to take the kids to his church", can ask "What is it that you want?" If participant says, "I think the people at the church are crazy", can translate as a need, "So, are you wanting safety?"

Can ask question to get at needs, "So if you get that, then what would you have?"

Most of the time, 90% of the needs will be the same.

Important that this step not get cut short by strategizing as any later agreement will most likely not hold up if all needs aren't expressed. Agreement then later breaks down when need that wasn't identified isn't met.

Emergency 1st Aide Empathy.
If someone gets triggered, interrupt if necessary, "Excuse me" and give emergency empathy, e.g., "I'm wondering if you're feeling frustrated because you're needing to be heard also." Don't allow yourself to be sidetracked, but get back to identifying needs.

Pulling by the Ear: Have each party acknowledge hearing the other --acknowledge their needs.

After identification of needs, ask each party, "Can you tell me what you heard him say? You don't have to agree. Can you tell me what his needs are?" Ask other side, "Did he get it right?" Then vice versa.

This part happens after the need identification so that each party has already had the experience of being heard and receiving empathy by mediator and is more able to acknowledge needs of the other party.

Strategize Ways to Get All Needs Met:
Involve participants. Can ask "Who has an idea of a strategy to meet these needs?" Ask for general brainstorming and not judging of ideas. May have to ask participants several times to hold off on evaluating needs. After geting strategies up, go through them and do a reality check "So does this meet the needs?" "If not, what fine tuning needs to be done?"

Rarely have to do caucus with this method as creates more safety and has advantage that parties then get to hear all communication.

Other Sharing:

Debriefing model for mediators from Gary Freedman (trainer of mediators). Two questions of which order is crucial.

1. What worked?
2. What was problematic?

In public meetings, it is harder to do feeling acknowledgment. May be easier to focus on needs rather than feelings.

Book by Bill Ury called The Third Side includes strategies for intervening in uninvited conflict. Other strategies on this topic that were shared are clarifying communication. " It sounds like you're hearing that Margaret's non participation is a vote of non-confidence". "Is that what you're hearing?" Margaret, is that what you're saying?

With permission, can do communication skill building..."Would you be willing to check that out with Margaret?

Can also identify needs. Can interrupt uninvited conflict by stating your own feelings and needs around it...." I'm feeling uncomfortable..."

Christina Baldwin has written books on calling the circle. One technique is dinging a gong and revisiting the purpose of the meeting. Asking people to identify what's going on inside before going on.

Ideas from Jim and Jori's NVC Mediation Practice group. They meet bi-weekly. Check-in's kept to feelings, needs, and requests. Can ask to state feeling and need in two words to keep brief and keep things moving as one or two minute check-ins from large group can take much time.

An idea to use is to have one person give the next person empathy and move around the circle that way.

Group is medium to talk about problematic occurrences in mediation. Start by giving mediator empathy from rest of group.

Can role-play problematic situation and practice using NVC.

Practice giving empathy in groups for "charged feeling words", e.g., if participant says "I feel betrayed", can say " Are you feeling angry and disappointed because you needing a sense of trust and balance?" It's useful to translate into 3 or 4 feelings and needs. Take advantage of the opportunity to empathize with people who feel victimized.