This book that deals with the mediator’s conscious and unconscious control of the parties’ process and his influence on the results of the mediation will be understood more easily by readers who are familiar with mediation. A great deal is written about mediation, using many guises, for example, court annexed mediation, family mediation, or victim-offender mediation. This book is different from the other literature available as it looks at the very smallest building blocks in the mediation process.
Beside the words, the body language and the non-verbal (extra-verbal) cues have a great deal of importance. We recognise situations where the words say one thing, but the body language or the non-verbal cues say something else. And in that competition it is always the words that lose. The spoken word we call pragmatic linguistics. The book analyses the dialogue in mediation by comparing the spoken words to the body language and the non-verbal. The non-verbal is also called the language’s prosody or melody, rhythm, volume, tone, pace etc.
When the prosody is created on the air’s rise through the vocal tract from the lungs, through the vocal cords, the soft palate and the tongue out through the lips or nose and when the sound is formed and is affected by all the other organs on the way, it is reasonable to call this extra-verbal language or the prosody for a part of the body language. It is also reasonable to presume that there is a connection between the speaker’s mental state and the function of the organs in the vocal tract that forms the prosody.
The process that occurs during mediation was initially understood as the results of internal processes of the individual participants. In the last decade of the last century, however, three forms of mediation were developed that did not understand mediation in that way. These three new forms the book calls systemic, transformative, and narrative mediation, and it is these that the book deals specifically with. What they are comprised of, how they are different from each other and from earlier forms of mediation?
The author has previously described mediation from a macro perspective in The Mediation Process in Practice and later took the first steps from the macro into the micro perspective with Mediation – Six Ways in Seven Days . The present book deals only with the microperspective.
We can immediately sense that there is a difference between what happens in the courtroom of Judge A and Judge B. We can also notice a difference between what happens in the mediation room of mediator A and mediator B. We know judges that want to control every last detail, and we also know judges that see how things go before intervening. The same is true of mediators. But this has not had its own language or terminology that can describe the difference so that A, B and others can better understand and describe what the differences are. Only if there is such a terminology, are A and B able assess if there is something that needs changing.
This presentation is about this terminology and the presentation uses specific terminology to see how much unconscious influence mediators has in the mediation process. The terminology can also be used to teach judges – albeit for the best intentions – unconscious influence on the parties. The book uses its tools and terminology on texts bout and from dialogues during mediation, but could just as easily have used them on judges’ texts and dialogues.
The work uses discourse and conversation analysis and focuses on what happens between the participants in the mediation process. This focus is called a microfocus, and what is able to be analysed is called the microdynamics. When you look this closely at the process, it becomes clear that it is not only the process of A and B that are different.
Different results are also achieved , which is particularly interesting for legal science, which throughout Western academic tradition has placed mediation in legal science faculties. It also becomes clear that the transfer of language from speaker to listener is not neutral. The participants in the dialogue do something with the language in relation to each other. We call this something speech acts.
From the abstract is quoted:
Mediation encompasses processes with many faces and ideologies. Mediation has traditionally been based on internal processes within the individual such as emotions, needs, concerns and interests. However, during the 1990s three styles were developed, which were not based on feelings, needs, concerns or interests. These were systemic, transformative and narrative mediation.
Systemic mediation was until 1993 named the Haynes model and after 1993 the Milan model. In accordance with postmodern thinking, these three new styles were based on external processes between individuals such as interaction, communication, language and discourse, and where the earlier mediation processes worked from inside-out, the new processes worked from outside-in.
The dissertation has examined the 1) ideological grounding of each of the three new styles with a special focus on the variety of degree of mediator influence (control) accepted by each of the individual styles. The dissertation identified ideological differences through 2) discourse analysis in order to identify particular discourses expressed by literature from and about the individual styles.
The dissertation also exami¬ned to what extent the identified discourses could be found in the style’s practical implementation of ideology in the mediation process and how the particular discourses were put into practice. For this purpose mediation dialogues from each of the three styles were analysed by means of 3) conversation analysis normally performed on transcriptions of dialogues.
Since the dissertation found that important data from, for example, body language do not surface through text analysis, the conversation analy¬sis was supplemented by 4) acoustic phonetic sound and image analysis. The audio and visual sides of the dialogues demonstrated that the results of the text ana¬lysis occasionally had to be corrected because the interaction between the participants in mediation consists of more than just words.
The results of the four types of analysis demonstrated that there were 1) major ideological differences between the styles, that these differences resulted in 2) rather different perceptions of best practice, that the differences lead to differences in 3) how much and how the mediator dominates the parties, that the mediator’s influence occurs both 4) open and hidden (microdynamics), that the mediator’s influence not only depends on his choice of words, but that 5) also sound and body language reflect choice and strategy, and that the sound produced by the vocal tract 6) must be considered a part of the body language.
When the three styles appear in very different processes, it is not a coincidence but rather a natural and predictable consequence of different goals and procedures.
The systemic style emphasis on problem-solving, while the transformative emphasis on optimising the parties' dialogue by improving empowerment and recognition, and the narrative emphasis on improvement of the parties' relationship through modification of discourses and positioning. The three new styles make it appropriate (necessary) to learn a new vocabulary and new concepts when trying to understand the thinking behind the styles. The styles see the mediation process from three different angles.
The systemic style considers the parties as systems that together (with the mediator) form a system and each of which are grounded in other systems. The systems are more interesting for the mediator than are their elements (for example the individuals).
The inspiration for this angle derives from the Milan Group, whose psychiatric interventions were inspired by the biologists Maturana and Varela's recognition that the individual cell – and all the living – habitually forms closed systems only opening if the outside world can contribute to the system’s self-preservation – autopoietic. Therefore, the mediator’s first task is to open the parties' systems and to keep them open. Next, the mediator identifies the parties’ patterns and next options for altering patterns and assists a negotiation about these changes. The goal is to solve problems by considering as many parties as possible.
The transformative style assumes that people solve problems on a daily basis without assistance and if assistance is required within the current dispute, it is because the level of the parties' empowerment and recognition had been too low at the time the disagreement broke into open conflict.
If the mediator can raise the level of empowerment and recognition of the parties, the parties will – as in the past – become able to solve disagreements without assistance. When this happens, it is due to a sufficient level of empowerment and recognition leading to an optimisation of the dialogue of the parties. The goal is thus optimising the parties' dialogue.
The narrative style assumes that people are living within stories (narratives) and that the way in which these narratives are shaped creates people's lives.
When the parties' stories are incompatible, conflict breaks out. The same applies when the parties’ limiting positioning is not accepted by the positioned. Facts are simply stories that are accepted. The main reason why stories and positioning may be incompatible is that the discourses contained in the stories and in the positioning are incompatible. The goal of narrative mediation is thus changing the discourses and the positioning in order to make the parties compatible, leading to an improvement in the relationship of the parties. The goal is optimising the parties’ relationship.
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