At the conference presented last week by the New England Chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution (NE-ACR), several speakers discussed theories about why we think and do the things that we think and do. Some ideas seemed almost obvious and others were counter-intuitive. Most, if not all, of these presentations were made in the context of conflict: conflict causes and conflict resolution. And all recognized the kind of work done by the dispute resolution professionals, mostly mediators, who were in attendance.
As a practicing mediator, one comment — almost an aside — has stayed with me. The presenter acknowledged that the people in the room were people who would use this information to help people in conflict to reach better resolutions, that is, resolutions that the parties themselves concluded were in their best interest. We were there to learn to be better mediators, not to learn tricks and inside information to help us to take advantage of opponents. As mediators, it’s all about the neutrality.