Book Notes on The Making of a Mediator Developing Artistry in Practice by Michael D. Lang and Alison Taylor: David Hubbard, Adjunct Faculty
The Making of a Mediator: Developing Artistry in Practice (TMOAM) is a great resource for mediators seeking guidance and insight on their journey from a freshly minted newbie mediator to an unconsciously competent master mediator. TMOAM a field guide for working towards what may seem like the elusive goal of obtaining artistry as a mediator. Mediators grow professionally through the discipline of reflective practice and interactional process. When mediators reflect on their mediation models, theories, knowledge and beliefs with the actions taken in mediation, and the subsequent results they can act with increased integrity, congruence, and transparency. This examination of ones theory, action, results feedback loop can dramatically improve a mediator skills, technique and understanding. This book is an excellent resource for taking your mediation abilities, methods, skills and tools to a higher, more competent and resourceful level.
From the beginning the reader will find two compelling reasons to continue examining the book. First, the book promotes no preferred model or style of mediation. Regardless of whether you practice an interest-based, evaluative, narrative, transformative, or some other hybrid style of mediation, it does not matter. The ideas of reflective practice and interactional process presented are universal and can be used with any model, orientation, style or theory of mediation to enhance a mediator’s growth and development.
Secondly, a basic premise of the book is that through reflective practice any mediator can achieve artistry. Artistry is not coincidence, a gift, luck, natural ability, or a destination but a journey. A journey of deconstruction of what we do, what works, what does not, and assessing the interactions, timing and intensity of our interventions. A journey of discovering congruence, convergence and integration of what we say our model and theories are with what our models and theories are in action. Artistry is a journey of humility, mindfulness, self observation and reflection.
The reader discovers the many benefits of reflective practice including:
a complexified understanding of conflict
a deeper and stronger foundation
a clearer understanding of the participants
improved assessments of the situation
enhanced self awareness
greater clarity of one’s beliefs, biases and values
a much larger tool box
more skills in using those tools
greater capability to make a helpful intervention at a critical moment
lifelong learning and growing in knowledge and skill
greater confidence in responding in the moment to complex dynamics
Lang and Taylor set out six hallmarks of reflective practice:
Attention to Detail: Responsive in the moment
Curiosity: Open to new perspectives
Exploration & Discovery: Not being bound by limiting assumptions
Developing and Testing Formulations: Holding tightly, letting go lightly
Interpretation: Resilient and Flexible
Patience and Vision: Balance between process and outcome
The reader discovers the barriers to professional growth and artistry:
Being bound by limiting assumptions
Failure to take in new information
Avoidance or Inability to reflect on action in mediation and after the mediation
Fixation on outcome or thinking you know the solution
Caught in the trap of thinking “I am the expert”
Inattention to the parties
Inattention to process
Lang and Taylor include effective graphics that visually represent and explain ideas and concepts that help one engage in reflective practice on the path towards artistry. The reader is given clear and, at times, repetitive counsel on how to discover and explore one’s own path towards artistry and the process of developing a reflective practice is clearly explained.
To further support the mediator’s journey to artistry through reflective practice are the excellent exercises and questions for reflections throughout the book and at the end of each chapter. Lang and Taylor encourage you to explore your unique constellation of theories and world view. The mediator is guided by these questions and reflections to deconstruct what it is you think you know in order to develop a clearer understanding of your central core beliefs and values, theories and abstracts, models and approaches, facts and information. With this book, some hard work, practice, and reflection in action and on action, you too, can experience the joy and flow of artistry.
Book Citation: Michael D. Lang and Alison Taylor. The Making of a Mediator: Developing Artistry in Practice. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 2000, 254 pp.
David serves as the Director of Facilitation and Training at The Mediation Center. He is an experienced attorney who, prior to joining the staff at The Mediation Center, practiced law for many years, was a business executive, as well as a private-practice mediator and facilitator. In addition to his full-time position at the Center he serves as an adjunct undergraduate professor, adjunct faculty member at UNL College of Law, is approved as a local rule 4.3 mediator in Douglas County, and is approved as a federal mediator. David’s mediation and facilitation skills have been refined through hundreds of hours of training through the likes of Harvard’s Program on Negotiation, Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, American Bar Association, and hundreds of mediations and facilitations. David is a member of ASTD and an Executive Committee Member of the Alternative Dispute Resolution section of the Nebraska State Bar Association.