Visioning & Coaching Techniques in Mediation - Dispute Resolution Journal - Vol. 59, No. 2
Bruce Blitman is a mediator and an attorney with a solo practice in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. He has been certified by the Florida Supreme Court to serve as a mediator in cases referred by the Florida county, circuit civil and family courts. A mediator since 1989, Mr. Blitman is a diplomate member of the Florida Academy of Professional Mediators. He currently chairs the Academy’s Community Involvement Committee. He can be reached at (954) 437-3446, or via e-mail at BABmediate@aol.com
Jeanne Maes is professor of management at the Mitchell College of Business at the University of Alabama, South, and a faculty member at the Alabama Banking School. An experienced facilitator, consultant and executive trainer, Dr. Maes specializes in communication skills, conflict management, partnering, team building and leadership. She is a member of the Southern Management Association, the Academy of Management, and the Organization Development Institute. She is also a certified volunteer mediator for the district court in Baldwin County, Ala.
Originally from Dispute Resolution Journal
Visioning has become a popular technique to help the parties to a mediation create shared objectives. This article shows how mediators can use coaching skills to take advantage of this technique in reaching desired outcomes in mediation.
The goal of mediation is to help the parties reach a mutually agreeable outcome. There are many techniques that mediators use to assist the parties in attaining this goal. Central among them is helping the parties reframe their interests and needs in a way that will help them see what they have in common and what they might like from each other. Some mediators take a “problem-solving approach” to this task, while others use “visioning.” Problem-solving requires the parties to define their problems and then try to determine possible solutions. However, a problem-solving approach can take longer to get off the ground. As researchers at the World Resources Institute have pointed out, with this approach, parties “can become mired in technical details and political problems and may even disagree on how to define the problem.”1 Furthermore, people generally want to distance themselves from problems, so a problem-solving approach may not help them create any real fundamental change.2