Artistry in Mediation

Many mediators have their own strategies in conflict resolution and these may depend on their personality, style and personal mediator philosophy.  How mediators practice can include known communication skills, such as open questions, summarizing and reframing.    Increasingly researchers are interested in the many other mediator strategies such as use of humour, improvisation and intuition.  Such mediation strategies can be controversial as they don’t usually appear in mediation standards or training programs.  However, these kinds of strategies may be just as effective as the traditional communication interventions. For example, whether a mediator can use humour to lighten the mood, improve rapport and open participants to new ideas. Improvisation can be used by mediator to move away from the set steps of mediation in order to be flexible and fluid to meet parties’ needs. Intuition operates in a mediation to assist the mediator to make strategic choices informed by years of experiences.  All of these kinds of strategies could be said to be part of “artistry” in mediation practice… where some mediators show a more sophisticated approach to how they mediate.
As research in the mediation field matures I think researchers will increasingly be interested in unpacking how mediators with experience practice to inform both mediator education and to share skills in our community of practice.


3 thoughts on “Artistry in Mediation

  1. I’m sure you are right Kathy. Hopefully a very positive outcome of the unpacking will be to encourage us to move from a group of idiosyncratic practitioners with different skills and strategies to a community of professionals whose shared engagement in ‘artistry’ builds a more identifiable, all-encompassing and accessible repertoire. Another step on the path to a profession.


  2. Absolutely agree. Mediation has a structure and ethical guidelines within which we practice but the principal elements of artistry – discovery, imagination, and invention are equally part of the reason that mediation can be so successful.
    These are not qualities reserved to experienced mediators as new entrants to the industry can rapidly achieve artistry in the dynamic they create with the parties who are, or should be, the people who will determine the outcome of the mediation.


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