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Transformative mediation is an approach to conflict intervention that does not seek an immediate resolution to a problem. Instead, the mediator usually seeks to instill mutual recognition and empowerment between the conflicting parties. The parties then work with the mediator to determine the appropriate resolution process for their situation.
Recognition is generally considered to be an important part of transformative mediation, so that each party can understand how the other one defines the problem. Additionally, the mediator usually leads each party to understand the outcomes that are wanted by everyone involved. This way, both parties can approach the problem with more informed points of view.
An opening statement usually starts the transformative mediation process. In this statement, the mediator, who acts as a neutral third party, will generally explain the forum in which the two parties will discuss their problem. The overall goal is for both parties to come to a settlement that is mutually satisfactory.
Before such a solution can take place, however, the mediator must first work with the parties to develop rules and resolution processes. Mediators will ask questions and make suggestions about these rules and processes. It is the responsibility of the two parties to direct the overall conversation and make settlement suggestions.
While other forms of mediation are typically structured based on a time frame, meetings for parties using transformative mediation are open-ended. This means that meetings can take as much time as necessary. Stress is often considered to be one of the main causes for disagreements. For example, one party might be stressed about the problem, while the other party might be stressed out about what the settlement might be. Open-ended meetings are usually meant to alleviate stress so that the parties can focus on working together.
Problem-solving mediation is often compared to transformative mediation. Both forms of meditation use collaborative processes to come up with a beneficial settlement for the parties involved. Unlike transformative mediation, however, problem-solving mediation sometimes considers emotions to be extraneous to the issues that need to be resolved.
Emotions are usually considered to be an integral part of the transformative mediation process. This is based on the general assumption that emotions make differing points of view easier for the parties to identify with. In addition to being able to freely express their emotions, both parties are also usually told by the mediator that, if they choose, they can pursue other forms of resolution.
@NathanG - I certainly concur that stress is at the root of a lot of problems both in the workplace and in our personal lives. People expect things of us, and many times we can’t deliver, or we feel like we can’t deliver.
We bottle the stress inside until one day it explodes, and suddenly we find ourselves in need of dispute mediation. While this is good as far as it goes, I think it would be better if we have more open lines of communication. That will enable us to release the stress before it gets out of control.
It also wouldn’t hurt to have some more recognition in the workplace, rather than simply using it as tool in the mediation process. I understand that these are more preventative measures, but if we took them we would need less conflict mediation, in my opinion.
@David09 - I think that transformative mediation might work better in some contexts more than others. I see workplace mediation as benefiting from this approach, for example.
Sometimes at work people harbor negative feelings towards people with whom they have conflict. It’s important, in my opinion, to get these feelings out in the open and choose instead to recognize the worth of the other individual.
That process, understandably, takes time, and so that’s why the transformative mediation isn’t a quick fix. Both parties are trying to grow individually, not simply come up with answers to problems that they have. I favor the approach for that reason alone.
A context where it would not be ideal, however, would be international conflict resolution. Somehow I don’t envision international leaders coming to the negotiating table with an opening remark, “I’m okay, you’re okay” to kick start the mediation. They want results, as quickly as possible.
The whole transformative mediation thing sounds a little touchy-feely to me, with its focus on emotions and recognition and so forth. I don’t know honestly if I would do well in that kind of a context.
I tend to be somewhat results oriented, although I do appreciate the fact the human sensitivity and ego can sometimes be a hindrance towards conflict resolution.
I just don’t think that I would open up that much in that kind of a setting. That’s just me, personally. I can see how other people might do quite well.