Intuition in Mediation – Shifting the Focus from Mediating the Problem to Mediating the Moment

Greg Rooney and Margaret Ross wrote an interesting, 20-page article titled Shifting the Focus from Mediating the Problem to Mediating the Moment – Using Intuition as a Guide.

Knowledge Thinking and Being in a State of Reverie

It is our ability to think that makes us a mediator, lawyer or social scientist not our acquired knowledge of the subject or field. Although knowledge acquisition is an important first step for the novice professional it does not make a practitioner.

Professional practice involves engaging in a real encounter with other human beings in the here and now of the professional setting. How you think moment to moment is the driver of that engagement. The application of abstract knowledge is just a by-product.

The professional encounter has to be real and fresh and unique to each moment. In essence mediation, the law and the social sciences have to be continually created afresh by the practitioner and remain fresh during each moment of the professional encounter.

Mediating the Moment

One of the most powerful tools that a mediator can use is to work with the parties in the here and now of the joint session. While this can create uncertainty and unpredictability it does offer rich rewards for the experienced mediator.

It requires the mediator to be comfortable with the uncertainty of the moment. The ability to be surprised and to be able to act as a role model for the parties in moving the focus away from ‘the problem’ in order to give space for new ideas and fresh options.

To do this effectively it is suggested that mediators seek to work intuitively. This is developed by mediators acquiring the art of letting go of any attachment to their memories, desires and the need to understand what is happening at any particular time in the mediation. It requires an evenly suspended attention to all that is going on.

Professional intuition is found in a wide range of disciplines, and is one of the hallmarks of expert practice, especially in fields where professionals need to engage with fast-moving, uncertain and often messy situations.

Rather than representing unreliable, vague feelings, intuition underpins and informs expertise, enabling experts to notice and respond to both patterns and anomalies occurring in their work.

Topics include:

  • Knowledge, Thinking and Being in a State of Reverie
  • Separating the problem from the parties’ negotiation relationship
  • Mediating the problem or the relationship
  • The mediator as an irritant
  • In praise of the joint session
  • Being in the moment – Using intuition as a guide
  • ‘The Third’
  • Deferring persuasion and problem-solving
  • The obligation to repay gifts