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Mediating Complex Disputes

The Dynamic Mediation™ Model


One key element of the Dynamic Mediation model is to ensure progress and maintain the forward momentum of all parties. The problem, for which the parties are seeking help to resolve, might seem—in the beginning—immense and insurmountable. Therefore, recognizing all achievements and every step forward plays a significant role in reinforcing a message of hope and progress. This is specifically imperative in multi-session mediations.

Asking the parties to evaluate their progress so far, the response will be any of three possibilities, all of which the mediator should take into consideration in their design:

1 – The situation has improved,

2 – There is no difference. The situation has not changed, or

3 – The situation has worsened.

The first will present an excellent opportunity for the mediator to ask follow-up questions about how the individual had managed to create such a success and what their experience was going one step further.

The second and the last possible responses can be managed through a positive reframing of the situation.

For these situations (responses 2 and 3 above), the mediator may ask:

Moreover, evaluation is an effective tool to anchor parties to reality and avoid extreme bargaining processes. One possible technique could be for the current state evaluation to be in the form of a rating compared to their preferred future. For example, if the preferred future is 10, they should consider which number they can assign to their current state.

Evaluating the current state versus the desired future will bring a pathway into view. It might not be the pathway, but at least it exposes the fact that the target cannot be achieved all at once and thereby focuses the dialogue on the next step along the journey instead of sticking to a desired, far-away objective.

In response to an excessively ambitious objective, which may well be in complete disregard of others’ needs and wants (.e.g., high anchoring claims, all-or-nothing demands), the evaluation techniques can help the mediator navigate these challenging waters by seeking more information to clarify the objective in more measurable terms while guiding the demanding party to evaluate their current position against the desired ambitious target. Now, the next question can be, in one form or another, something similar to the following examples:

The mediator evaluates the progress of all stakeholders (i.e., parties in the conflict situation or dispute) against their desired future, in search of signs of progress and success, reinforcing the message of hope, demonstrating the progress made so far, and refocusing attention towards going through the next steps, instead of fixating on far-away objectives.

The Dynamic Mediation Model™

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