Bringing Peace Into the Room: How the Personal Qualities of the Mediator Impact the Process of Conflict Resolution / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Buy Used
Buy Used from
(Save 41%)
Item is in good condition but packaging may have signs of shelf wear/aging or torn packaging.
Condition: Used – Good details
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $13.50
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 64%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (20) from $13.50   
  • New (11) from $22.80   
  • Used (9) from $13.50   


Bringing Peace Into the Room examines the personal qualities that make a mediator effective. The eminent authors of this volume go beyond traditional descriptions of academic training, theoretical orientation, and refinement of technique to confront issues related to personal temperament and the crucial psychological, intellectual and spiritual qualities of the mediation professional–qualities that are often the most potent elements of successful mediation.

In this comprehensive resource, Daniel Bowling and David Hoffman bring together a stellar panel of practitioners, academics, teachers, and trainers in the field–Michele LeBaron, Kenneth Cloke, Robert Benjamin, Don Saposnek, Sara Cobb, Peter Adler, Jonathan Reitman, Lois Gold, Marvin Johnson, and others–who share their personal experiences as mediators. Each contributor demonstrates that at the very heart of conflict resolution is the subtle interaction between the parties and the mediator’s personal and authentic style.

Bringing Peace Into the Room offers no hard and fast rules, guidelines, or advice to be applied to all mediators as to what personal qualities are best suited for all cases. Rather the book shows that developing an authentic approach to mediation requires constant grounding in self-reflection and self-awareness. This highly original and personally compelling approach to the process of conflict resolution explains how mediators can be aware of their own strengths and weaknesses, and how they can fine tune their own unique qualities for effective practice.

Read More Show Less

What People Are Saying

From the Publisher
"Ever wonder what personal qualities make a mediator effective? Read this wonderfully thought-provoking book for rich insights and diverse perspectives, valuable for novices and experienced practitioners alike."
— William Ury, co-author Getting to Yes, author The Third Side

"An important contribution about not just what we do but who we are as mediators. The authors reexamine often overlooked first premises. A must read for any self-reflective peacemaker."
— Eric D. Green, Law professor, co-founder, Endispute, Inc. and Resolutions, LLC.

"Finally, a book that touches on the heart of the mystery of mediation. Bowling, Hoffman and company have opened vistas for all mediators to use as touchstones for their work."
— Gary Friedman, co-founder and director of the Center for Mediation in Law

"This book is a must-read for both masters and novices in the field. Without ignoring the important issues of competency and credentialing, this book forces us to try to understand what we do at a level that surveys and questionnaires cannot uncover. It is a gem that will gleam for many years to come."
— Homer La Rue, arbitrator, mediator, law professor

"Anyone curious about how a skilled and self-aware mediator can help people in conflict will want to read this book. Drawing on philosophy, psychology, the arts, and education, the authors explore how mediators can bring real and lasting value to people in conflict."
— Susan Hackley, managing director, Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School

"This rich collection of essays offers an array of perspectives on the mediator's dynamic effect on the parties and their conflict. It will provoke reflection and provide insight for even the most experienced mediators about who we are, what we do, and why it matters."
— Marjorie Aaron, mediator and law professor

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780787968502
  • Publisher: Wiley
  • Publication date: 9/30/2003
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 322
  • Sales rank: 695,407
  • Product dimensions: 6.34 (w) x 9.31 (h) x 1.11 (d)

Meet the Author

Daniel Bowling is an attorney, mediator, mediator trainer, and the director of the Washington, D.C. office of Resolve, Inc., a public policy consensus building organization. He was the first CEO of ACR (The Association for Conflict Resolution), the executive director of SPIDR (Society of Professionals in Dispute Resolution), and cofounder of the Lowcountry Mediation Network, the first mediation organization in South Carolina.
David A. Hoffman is an attorney, mediator, and arbitrator at the Boston Law Collaborative, LLC, a multi-disciplinary firm devoted to conflict resolution and the practice of collaborative law. He is chair-elect of the American Bar Association Section of Dispute Resolution and has taught mediation, negotiation, and family law at Northeastern University Law School and Harvard Law School.

Read More Show Less

Read an Excerpt

Bringing Peace Into the Room

How the Personal Qualities of the Mediator Impact the Process of Conflict Resolution

John Wiley & Sons

Copyright © 2003

Daniel Bowling, David Hoffman
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-7879-6850-1

Chapter One

Bringing Peace into the Room
The Personal Qualities of the Mediator
and Their Impact on the Mediation

Daniel Bowling and David A. Hoffman

Empirical studies of the mediation process consistently show high
rates of settlement, as well as high levels of participant satisfaction
(for an example, see McEwen and Maiman, 1981). These
favorable results seem to occur regardless of mediation styles or the
philosophical orientation of the individual mediator (evaluative
versus facilitative, transformative versus problem solving). Indeed,
the history of mediation as well as our own experience show that
mediation sometimes works even when the mediator is untrained.
Is there some aspect of the mediation process-wholly apart from
technique or theory-that explains these results?

Some might say that mediation works because it creates a safe
forum for airing grievances and venting emotion (that is, it gives
people their "day in court"), and this can be done even with an
unskilledmediator. Others might point to the use of active listening
and reframing-skills that many people have, whether or not
they have had any formal mediation training. Still others may focus
on the use of caucusing and shuttle diplomacy-again, techniques
that do not necessarily require specialized training.

We believe all of these techniques are important. We also
believe that mediation training is vitally important as a means of
enhancing our ability to do those things that for some people may
come naturally but for most of us require training and practice.
However, there is a dimension to the practice of mediation that has
received insufficient attention: the combination of psychological,
intellectual, and spiritual qualities that make a person who he or
she is. We believe that those personal qualities have a direct impact
on the mediation process and the outcome of the mediation.
Indeed, this impact may be one of the most potent sources of the
effectiveness of mediation.

We do not profess to know precisely how this happens or why it
happens, although this chapter does suggest a framework for examining
these questions. Because the ideas we present are not based
on empirical studies or controlled experiments, we cannot prove
their validity. They have evolved from reflection on our own experience
as mediators and observation of the work of other mediators.
We hope these ideas stimulate further inquiry.

Bringing Peace into the Room

The observation that led us to write this chapter can be simply
stated and may even seem self-evident: as mediators, we have
noticed that, when we are feeling at peace with ourselves and the
world around us, we are better able to bring peace into the room.
Moreover, doing so, in our experience, has a significant impact on
the mediation process. What may be more complex and difficult to
explain is how we, as mediators, can maintain a sense of peacefulness
while working with people who are deeply enmeshed in seemingly
intractable conflict. Often the disputes that we deal with in
mediation trigger feelings in us about conflicts in our own lives.
However, we believe that successful mediators have an ability to
transcend those conflicts, or perhaps to use the insight derived from
them, to help the parties in the mediation reach a genuine resolution
of the dispute that brought them there. This ability arises, in
our view, not so much from a particular set of words or behaviors
but instead from an array of personal qualities of the mediator that
create an atmosphere conducive to resolution.

In an effort to make sense of these observations, we have found
very useful and pertinent analogies from research in the physical
and social sciences, and in particular the field of psychology.
Research in these fields is useful not so much because it furnishes a
definitive answer to the question of how personal characteristics
influence the mediation process but because it offers what we
believe are useful metaphors for the processes we observe in mediation,
and useful frameworks for thinking about the interactions of
mediator and client. Some of the scientific theories we describe
here are considered controversial; others are well established. We
are not seeking to prove, nor do we vouch for, the validity of this
scientific research. Instead, we look to that research, as part of an
exercise in reflective practice (see Lang, 1998), to see if it affords
useful insight into the mediation experience and thus a deeper
understanding of the qualities that will make us better mediators.

Three "Stages" of Development

Our starting point is to reflect on how we ourselves developed as
mediators. For us, and for many of our fellow mediators, the process
seems to involve three major "stages." Although we describe these
aspects of our development sequentially, for some mediators they
may occur in a different order, overlap, or occur to some degree

First, as beginning mediators, we studied technique. We learned,
among other things, active listening, reframing, focusing on interests,
prioritizing issues, and helping the parties generate options. We
learned to demonstrate empathy as well as impartiality; how to
diagnose settlement barriers; and how, with any luck, to bring a case
to closure. We looked for opportunities to practice these skills.
A period of apprenticeship ensued, involving, for some of us, comediation
with more experienced colleagues, observation of other
mediators, and opportunities for debriefing and peer supervision.

The second stage of our development involved working toward
a deeper understanding of how and why mediation works. In seeking
an intellectual grasp of the mediation process, we hoped to find
the tools with which to assess the effectiveness of various techniques;
identify appropriate professional and ethical boundaries; and
better understand what we were doing, why we were doing it, and
the meaning of the process for our clients. These intellectual
inquiries, encompassing both empirical and theoretical research and
normative discussions of mediation practice, increased our effectiveness
as mediators and enhanced the personal satisfaction we
derived from this work.

The third stage of our growth as mediators is the focus of this
chapter, and we consider it to be the most challenging frontier of
development. For us, the third aspect begins with the mediator's
growing awareness of how his or her personal qualities influence (for
better or worse) the mediation process. It is at this stage that we
begin to focus on, and take responsibility for, our own personal
development as mediators. It is about being a mediator, rather than
simply doing certain prescribed steps dictated by a particular mediation
school or theory. Mediator David Matz recently wrote, in a
paper titled "The Hope of Mediation": "In addition to what a mediator
does, there is the matter of what a mediator is. Spirit emanates
from being, just as articulately as it does from doing. More specifically,
it is the mediator's being, as experienced by the parties, that
sends the message" (Matz, 1999, p. 17). Our conception of this
third task is developmental; it is based on the premise that gaining
mastery is an ongoing process.

An example of the differences among these stages of development
can be seen by looking at a particular feature of the mediation
process-for example, reframing. In skills training (first stage),
mediators are taught how to restate and reframe the parties'
accounts in a way that helps them feel heard and understood.
Further reading and study (second stage) might demonstrate the
reasons reframing is an effective technique. At the level of personal
development (third stage), the mediator develops the ability to
reach a deeper level of personal connection with the parties, so that
the reframing resonates with authenticity.

Very little has been written about this third stage in the process
of becoming a mediator, although we believe that it is a vital aspect
of a mediator's development. Likewise, little is known about the
personal qualities of mediators and how they affect the mediation
process. More is known about what makes people effective psychotherapists
and lawyers (see, for example, Kottler, 1991; and
Ryan, 1996).

Personal Qualities of the Mediator

More than a decade ago, mediators William E. Simkin and Nicholas
A. Fidandis (1986) catalogued what they believed to be the necessary
qualities for an effective mediator. We assume, for purposes of
this discussion, that these qualities, and the others discussed in this
chapter, are not entirely innate and can be developed. Simkin and
Fidandis included in their list, which was no doubt partly tongue-in-cheek:

The patience of Job

The sincerity and bulldog characteristics of the English

The wit of the Irish

The physical endurance of a marathon runner

The broken-field dodging abilities of a halfback

The guile of Machiavelli

The personality-probing skills of a good psychiatrist

The hide of a rhinoceros

The wisdom of Solomon

Another writer (Boulie, 1996) suggested, in a more serious vein,
that successful mediators are empathetic, nonjudgmental, patient,
persuasive, optimistic, persistent, trustworthy, intelligent, creative,
and flexible, and that they have a good sense of humor and common

Such catalogues of qualities-which are anecdotal, not
scientific-help us identify some of the characteristics that we may
want to foster in ourselves and look for in other mediators.
However, we believe there is some deeper and more fundamental
quality that the most effective mediators have: a quality that may
include such attributes as patience, wisdom, or wit but that involves
other attributes that are not in these lists. As we try to identify that
quality, we focus on both the subtle influences of the mediator
(those that may operate beneath the level of conscious awareness),
and those where the mediator's influence is readily apparent.

Placebo Effect

As a starting point, we note that the success of mediation is not
always the result of the mediator's personality or the skill with
which he or she practices mediation. Some disputes are resolved
even if the mediator is not present (or in spite of the mediator's
presence, if he or she is not particularly skillful) simply because the
parties to the dispute have sat down at the table, figuratively or
literally, to discuss the matter. In the legal arena, the mere process
of getting two lawyers to open their files on a case simultaneously
and focus on them often produces a settlement. A certain number
of such settlements occurs whenever a court-connected event (such
as a motion hearing or a status conference) brings the parties and
counsel together. In cases of this kind, mediation is simply an event
that brings the parties together for a discussion that, even without
the mediator, might resolve the case because the circumstances are
ripe for settlement.

The Mediator's Interventions

The most direct and obvious impact that the mediator has on the
mediation process comes from the techniques he or she uses to influence
the course of negotiations. These interventions, based on the
mediator's assessment of the obstacles to settlement, might involve
giving the parties an opportunity to vent emotional reactions to the
dispute, encouraging the parties to focus on interests rather than
positions, or helping the parties generate options for settlement.

These basic techniques, and others, are widely used by mediators,
but with varying results. Some of the variation is certainly
attributable to differences in the cases themselves. Disputes vary,
and the parties themselves display an infinite variety of personal
characteristics, which may foster or impede settlement. Likewise,
however, the personal qualities of the mediator influence the effectiveness
of his or her interventions.

The "Hawthorne Effect"

A useful analogy for the process we are describing comes from the
social sciences, in a phenomenon known as the "Hawthorne
effect," a term used to describe the changes people make in their
behavior when they realize they are being observed. This phenomenon
was recognized by sociologists who conducted an experiment
in the 1920s and 1930s at Western Electric's Hawthorne plant on
the outskirts of Chicago (see Gillespie, 1991). The researchers
wanted to know whether increasing the illumination of the factory
would increase the workers' productivity. After determining the
benchmarks of worker performance, the researchers turned up the
lights and found that productivity increased. To confirm these
results, they then reduced the level of illumination below the original
level and found, to their surprise, that productivity was higher
than the benchmark levels. They concluded that it was their presence,
not the changes in the factory's lighting, that had caused the
change in worker productivity.

This insight parallels physicist Werner Heisenberg's discovery in
the 1920s of the "uncertainty principle": that the observation of particles
influences their behavior. The application of this principle to
mediation is clear. If factory workers (or indeed subatomic particles)
behave differently when observed, how much more so individuals in
conflict who have sought out the assistance of a mediator?

Some mediators, however, have observed what might be
described as a "negative Hawthorne effect": parties who seem to
negotiate less productively if a third party is present. One explanation
for this phenomenon is that the parties may have other goals
and other agendas, apart from settling the issues that ostensibly
brought them to the mediation, which they feel safe in pursuing
only when a third party is present. Another explanation is that
what may appear to be a negative Hawthorne effect could, in fact,
be positive. For example, in some cases explosive personal issues
(such as the emotional distress caused by an abrupt termination of
employment or the discovery of infidelity in a marriage) cannot be
discussed productively without a third party present, and the seemingly
unproductive discussions that take place in the mediator's
presence are nevertheless more productive than they would be without
the mediator. Moreover, even discussions that appear to be
destructive in nature may be needed to achieve a resolution in a
particular case. In any event, it seems likely that the presence of the
observer influences the parties' negotiations for good or for ill.

Of course, mediators do much more than simply observe the parties'


Excerpted from Bringing Peace Into the Room

Copyright © 2003 by Daniel Bowling, David Hoffman.
Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Read More Show Less

Table of Contents

Introduction (Daniel Bowling and David A. Hoffman).

1. Bringing Peace into the Room: The Personal Qualities of the Mediator and Their Impact on the Mediation (Daniel Bowling and David A. Hoffman).

2. What Are the Personal Qualities of the Mediator? (Kenneth Cloke).

3. Unintentional Excellence: An Exploration of Mastery and Incompetence (Peter S. Adler).

4. Managing the Natural Energy of Conflict: Mediators, Tricksters, and the Constructive Uses of Deception (Robert D. Benjamin).

5. Trickster, Mediator’s Friend (Michelle LeBaron).

6. Emotionally Intelligent Mediation: Four Key Competencies (Marvin E. Johnson, Stewart Levine, and Lawrence R. Richard).

7. Paradoxes of Mediation (David A. Hoffman).

8. Mediation and the Culture of Healing (Lois Gold).

9. Creating Sacred Space: Toward a Second-Generation Dispute Resolution Practice (Sara Cobb).

10. The Personal Qualities of the Mediator: Taking Time for Reflection and Renewal (Jonathan W. Reitman, Esq.).

11. Style and the Family Mediator (Donald T. Saposnek).

12. Tears (David A. Hoffman).

13. Mindfulness Meditation and Mediation: Where the Transcendent Meets the Familiar (Daniel Bowling).

Suggestions for Further Reading.


The Contributors.


Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)