Mediating the Grid - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 59, No. 2
Cris M. Currie has been a mediator and conflict management trainer since 1987. He holds a Master of Arts degree in conflict resolution from Antioch University. He co-designed the Certificate in Conflict Management Program at Eastern Washington University, where he teaches courses in conflict resolution, negotiation and mediation. He is a founder and former director of the Dispute Resolution Center of Spokane County. He is also a practicing home health registered nurse in Spokane, Wash.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
The author offers a better way to evaluate potential mediators than labeling a mediator using Leonard Riskin’s “grid for the perplexed.” The author’s approach enhances this decision-making process. The debate over “evaluative” versus “facilitative” mediation is now largely between attorney-mediators and mediators who are not attorneys. Those on both sides of this divide are becoming ever more frustrated with the divisive labeling.1 Leonard Riskin tried to help resolve the issue with his well-known “grid for the perplexed.” The grid describes four general ways that mediation is being done. Riskin’s intention was to “communicate with some clarity about what can, does, and should happen in a mediation,” and enhance decision-making about the selection of mediators.2 But instead of creating clarity, the grid, in my view, has led to even greater confusion. The problem is that it provides no guidance as to how mediation could or should be done, or how it would be done by any particular mediator. Therefore, it provides little help with decision making about the selection of a mediator. Nevertheless, and this is most troubling, the grid has been widely used to support and legitimize several questionable forms of mediation practice.3 After briefly critiquing Professor Riskin’s model, I will discuss an alternative approach to predicting mediator behavior. My approach examines the potential mediator’s background, experience and biases, not using a grid to forecast what the candidate for mediator will do.