A story that shocked

I attended a conference with around 200 people from the mediation industry last week. It was very good. Excellent in fact. Expert speakers covered a range of specialist areas. These included 2 high court judges – Lord Neuberger and Sir Rupert Jackson. I gave an update on workplace mediation in the UK.

One speaker that remains particularly memorable is someone from the community mediation industry. She walked us through some of the challenges of mediating disputes between low income families and communities with high unemployment rates. She also gave us an insight into some of her work in the Criminal Justice System. In one case she was teaching some prisoners about the principles of conflict resolution and mediation. Out of a group of 8 men, 3 were murderers, 3 were sex offenders and 2 had done ‘other things’.

In the presentation the speaker talked about how one particular session made a big impact on one of the delegates. The speaker knew this because at the end of the training session he approached her and said “This mediation and conflict resolution stuff is really powerful. If I’d have known about this before, I wouldn’t have killed my wife”.

Most of the delegates at the conference were experienced mediators, used to hearing all sorts in the course of our mediation lives whilst being able to remain deadpan. This however, took most of us by surprise. I could tell this by the gasps in the room. This included me.

The audience was also particularly drawn to this speaker because she does a lot of her work on a pro bono basis. But, she needs help and invited delegates to give their time – free of charge – to help her charity deal with some of the issues they have to respond to. I signed up to the cause, and many others did too.

Reflecting on the day, I am reminded of a sentence in Ken Cloke’s latest book – ‘Conflict Revolution’ which says ‘As a human race, it is no longer possible to pursue non-sustainable approaches to survival, particularly those that aggravate the problems that we already face. Our current problems cannot be solved by traditional bureaucratic or autocratic methods. Instead, they demand the collective attention of everyone and respectful, collaborative, democratic ways of communicating and resolving conflicts. Without them, we may not survive”.

I look forward to welcoming those of you who are joining us for the Employee Engagement webinar with David MacLeod, Wayne Clarke and Rita Lawrence on Thursday 20th May at 2.00pm. Please click here for more information:

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