[Advice] Caucusing Arete – Part 3

Wisdom and behaving ethically often overlap. But most often not always.

NonVerbal Communication

In a mediation, arbitration, facilitation or when having a transformative moment with a transgressing client, ethics can go out the window for the professional peace builder. This is because facilitators, mediators, arbitrators—peace builders all—are human.

There is the idea among some peace building professionals that advocacy, evaluation, design and decision-making are not integral to the role of a peace builder, and thus cannot be transformative acts. This idea underpins the much touted ethics of preserving neutrality and maintaining client self-determination.

Evaluation and transformation can happen together ethically between a client and a peace builder, but then what happens to identity, power and the deeper meaning and significance of the work of the peace building fields?

Bernard Mayer and many others have struggled with these questions in the field of mediation, but the real, scary questions lie far outside the field and relate directly to the underpinnings and assumptions about how to create conditions for peace making, or even peace keeping, and how to plot those points as destinations between two conflicting parties.

  • Is it more, or less, ethical for the power struggles inherent in conflict engagement and conflict advocacy to occur between two parties, than it is for the immediate conflict to be resolved?
  • Is it more, or less, ethical for clients to be allowed to engage in their personal struggles in a conflict scenario, while having a third party advocate in the room to represent the voices of those not represented by the dominant power structures at play?
  • Is it more, or less, ethical to allow clients to manipulate the caucusing process, thereby placing third party neutrals in the unenviable position of being co-conspirators in lying, deceit, or other forms of deception that continue, rather than end, power struggles?

The average client involved in a workplace dispute, a divorce mediation, a church power struggle or another conflict/confrontation/difficulty scenario, may not know what is ethical or unethical based on some ancient Greek philosopher’s definition of how the world works.

They just want their world, in this moment, to work.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Advice] Caucusing Arete – Part Two

ADR professionals are asked to where many hats, and are often called to wear them all with excellence.

Conflict That Matters

There is much debate over whether it’s good enough to be good enough anymore, or if we all have to be excellence, but in the space of ADR, arête is important.

Arête is the Greek word for the idea of living up to your potential with excellence.

Now, we’ve talked about this before, but the issue becomes more important when we talk about client autonomy and a preservation of client self-determination.

Wearing that hat—for both clients in a dispute mediation scenario—is kind of like holding two thoughts in your head (and in your heart) at the same time.

For the ADR professional, becoming comfortable with pursuing this form of excellence is a strong part of the hard work of building something that matters.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: http://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Advice] Caucusing Arete

Caucusing in a mediation happens when a mediator takes each party aside and talks to them privately about issues and concerns that the other party may not be open to hearing.

  • In a divorce mediation, it could be about issues of infidelity, emotional abuse or unresolved anger.
  • In an organizational mediation, it could be about issues of pay structure, proprietary information, or that there’s a personal problem with the other party.
  • In a church mediation, it could be a about an interpretation of Scripture or a moment of clarity.
No matter what it is, however, the phrase heard most often within a caucus is “I don’t want [insert name of party here] to know this, but…”
A mediator’s virtue then shows, because she has a choice about addressing the opposite party with a concern that could tip the mediation one way—or another.
Arête is the Greek word for the idea of living up to your potential with excellence. And when a mediator navigates a caucus with arête, it can make all the difference.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com