18th Annual Northwest Dispute Resolution Conference
"Invigorating, sincere, inspiring, encompassing."
Niki - Workplace mediator and RJ Facilitator
"Thanks Gordon! You are a wonderful teacher."
Sally C. - Lawyer, very experienced mediator
"Loved it! As always your intellect and compassion marry well into a great course."
Pam P. - Mediator
"Stretching my view of myself and my role in dealing with both my conflicts and acting as a conflict manager."
David P. - Lawyer
"Very positive, very informative, very practical! Great course, I will definitely recommend it."
Brendan E -
"As always Gordon your thoughtful analysis and instructing is much appreciated. I like the clarification of the academic material with demonstrations and role-plays."
Darrel W.- Lawyer
Breaking Stubborn Impasses: Making Use Of the Human Tendency to Learn & Grow
Session 2.4 Friday, April 29, 2011 2:30 – 4:00 p.m.
Applicable to one-on-one work in caucus, between session conversations, as well as pre-mediation, this session will suggest four different angles of inquiry into a disputant’s experience of him or herself: identity, worldview, life direction and acquisitiveness. The presenter will demonstrate the practice, encourage participation, and supply sample questions in a take-home handout. The presentation will be directed to an advanced and intermediate level of mediation, but will also be compelling to anyone with psychological interest in human responses to conflict.
Introduction to Narrative: Constructing Stories of Resolution
Harper, Harper & Associates, Burnaby, BC
and Jody Faibish, Justice Institute of BC, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC
Session 5.2 Saturday, April 30, 2011 10:15 a.m. - 11:45 a.m.
Parties in conflict make sense of their situation through story. Their existing stories often trap them in confrontation and thwart collaboration. This interactive workshop will introduce you to a narrative approach to conflict resolution and provide tools and concepts to help you work with existing stories to construct new stories that will foster understanding and resolution. Specifically, you will learn how the “drama triangle of conflict,” selective memory, and two powerful questions can help you shift parties from confrontation to collaboration.
Q&A with Gordon White
NWDR: What's your theme of your Breaking Stubborn Impasses program?
GW: Conflict assaults the integrity of the self and at the same time exposes doorways to new avenues of growth and development. One role for a mediator at impasse is to assist disputants to open those doors which will result in the impasse being productively shifted. (By ‘self’ I mean the inner core of personhood.)
NWDR: How do you describe your program?
GW: A learning experience facilitated by several activities: presentation, demonstration, small group discussion, and questions. My intention is to provide material that is both provocative and imminently practical.
NWDR: What's different about it? Something in the material, or how you cover it?
GW: Both. As well as presentation and time for questions, it will include interactive components and demonstration. In the material, I am taking some concepts from developmental psychology and bringing them into a mediation context that consequently suggests some particular ways of engaging disputants.
NWDR: With thirty-plus wonderful workshops at the conference, what would you like those attending to know as they make their selections?
GW: They will be presented with a thought-provoking understanding of the conflict experience and acquire some ready-to-apply approaches to addressing impasse.
NWDR: For whom is your program especially relevant? Who would you like to see come?
GW: Practitioners who are interested in psychological dimensions of the conflict experience.
NWDR: Are there particular "takeaways" - materials or skills - that you'll be offering to those who attend? How would you describe them?
GW: I suggest four development/growth directions for an adult person that each yields a set of questions that can be used by a mediator working one-on-one at impasse. The material will be brought alive through demonstration with participant volunteers.Two handouts will allow participants to take the material home and begin to use it immediately.
NWDR: What got you interested in the topic? Have a story for us?
GW: After mediating for about 10 years I began to feel that the discomforts my clients experienced had some profound dimensions. Then a few years ago one of my colleagues showed me a summary statement of part of psychologist Robert Kegan’s work. He explains that conflict is a challenge to the pretense of completeness of the self. That is, we think we are complete until conflict comes along and shows us that we are not. This notion got me excited.
I looked at some of my psycho-spiritual interests and came up with four ways in which humans are striving for completeness, all of which are informed by various psychological and mystical traditions. Somewhere in the development of the ideas I attended a one-day presentation by poet David Whyte. David recited and gave meaning to a Rainier Maria Rilke poem that begins, “All of you undisturbed cities, don’t you long for the enemy? I wish you could be besieged by him for 10 endless and ground shaking years…” In this poem, which can be understood as using the metaphor of a city to illustrate the self, Rilke builds graphic realism on to the notion that humans require an assault on the self in order to grow. What better assault than intense or protracted conflict I thought.
Combining Rilke and Kegan’s with my own ideas, I came up with this modified perspective: conflict is a fortunate threat to the integrity of the self. In this light, the work of a mediator can be framed as assisting disputants to find a new growth direction from within the discomfort created by the conflict.
In presenting these ideas I consider myself as much provocateur as teacher. I would like participants to consider the potential profundity of the conflict experience.
See the full list of all 2011 Workshops here.