What I Have Learned About Myself in Mediator Training

27 November 2019

At the end of each Conflict Dynamics mediator training course, we ask participants to reflect on what they have learnt about themselves over the five days of training and their responses are always very interesting and, for a trainer, very inspiring.

Recently, Leigh de Souza-Spagnoletti and Ames Dhai attended the training and their insights are typical of what other participants say.

Introspection is one of the first important lessons that the participants seem to appreciate. Leigh, for example says, “twenty years in the litigation field has made me abrasive, uncompromising and at times arrogant and condescending’ and Ames says, ”the course was very insightful to me as I was able to understand where I lacked in social skills and where I actually had skills that I was unaware of”.

Listening and truly hearing what others say is one of the skills which all the participants seem to recognise as one they need to hone. Ames says in her reflection, “I learnt from the course the importance of not just the power of listening, but also that of hearing” and Leigh adds, “holding my tongue has never been a strength. Never has this been highlighted more than during the mediation course. The ability to stand back and assess rather than shout questions and solutions will be an ongoing challenge”. It is this ability to not only create the impression that one is listening but to understand what others are saying, that enables a mediator to help parties find win/win solutions.

Creative, interest based joint problem-solving skills are ones that most participants realise they need to improve. Leigh says, “a new insight into slowly assessing and offering encouraging suggestions rather than issuing orders and “steamrolling” is welcoming” and Ames recognised, “the importance of not just discussing, but what meaningful discourse and debate actually entails and how necessary it is to draw from the insights of the people that we work with so that there is buy-in from everyone”.

The application of mediation skills beyond formal mediation is an important theme that runs through all the participants' thoughts. Leigh says in her assessment that, “even in the absence of formal mediation, the tools learnt during the course can be put into practice in everyday litigation” and Ames says, very pertinently, that, “what I learnt from the course, are lessons not just for my work environment, but also for all aspects of my functioning, including interacting with my students, friends, family and even the sometimes grumpy/unhappy petrol attendant or cashier at the local store”.

A change of mindset is something that strikes participants as vital. As Leigh says, “mediation is a different language to litigation and requires a literal change in mindset. I found this incredibly difficult at first but by the end of the course the clear distinction between the two became easier to see and to then implement”.

If you would like to make the change and learn and implement the new language, then think about attending one of Conflict Dynamics’ mediation skills courses. To do so contact Craig Hulcsher on +27 669 9678 for more information.

- John Brand