10 Paradigm Shifts of High Conflict Mediation

According to international expert on High Conflict People, Bill Eddie, mediating with people who have high conflict personalities is different to mediating with other people.

The difference revolves around the capacity for insight and to accept feedback. People who have developed a high conflict interpersonal style lack awareness and empathy and are focused on blame and their own issues. They do not respond well to trans-formative style mediation for this reason. Removing any perception of blaming them is necessary for them to engage in a process and it needs to be very future focused.

Quite simply in mediation (and often in therapy) they are so self protective that there is no way they will acknowledge that they have contributed in any way  to the conflict or issues they now face.

This Article by Bill Eddie the 10 Paradigm Shifts of High Conflict Mediation looks at strategies that mediators can use to to be more effective with these types of clients.

Read the article for more information however in brief the different perspective for work with people who are high conflict are:

  1. Focus on the future, strongly limit discussions of the past to avoid the high conflict person being overwhelmed by emotion
  2. Forget about insight and making them better people. They are just too defensive to gain insight during a mediation intervention.
  3. Focus the whole mediation on their proposals “Proposals are the building blocks of agreement. They often aren’t the final agreements, but they bring us closer to the final agreements.” For more detail on this approach, see article: “Yes, No or I’ll think About It.”
  4. Ask for their “thoughts and questions about the decision they want to make” not opening statements which tend to focus on the past. For more detail on this approach, see article: “When Storytelling Hurts Dispute Resolution.”
  5. Educate about options rather than using probing questions to help them to consider alternatives. People with high conflict approaches tend to fixate on one answer and don’t tend to think about alternative solutions
  6. Teach them to ask questions and use active listening because their normal communication pattern is to react immediately to what they hear.
  7. Have them make their Agenda. For more on this approach, see article: Setting the Agenda (For Meetings That Include Potentially High-Conflict People)
  8. Use EAR statements more than reflective listening. EAR is an acronym for Empathy, Attention and/or Respect and is a speech pattern that Bill Eddie has developed when working with high conflict people.
  9. Don’t ask how they feel, ask what they think. High conflict people often feel awful and make their problems worse by blaming other, taking all or nothing positions, having unmanaged emotions and resorting to extreme behaviours. They feel weak, vulnerable and like a victim of life / others. Even when their behaviour is bullying or overly aggressive. Shifting them from feeling to thinking is helpful so you’d ask “What do you think about that?” rather than “How do you feel about that?”
  10. Don’t try to hammer out agreements, emphasise “thinking about it” or trials.  It may be an unrealistic expectation that you will resolve all issues with a person prone to high conflict in a single session. The failure rate is high if you try to pressure them. The more pressure they feel, the more likely they are to blame those around them for “making” them agree to something they really don’t want. The mediator will be right in the firing line if that is the case.

Read the full article on the High Conflict Institute’s website  10 Paradigm Shifts of High Conflict Mediation

Did you let the Attorney Generals Department know?

Family Dispute Resolution Practitioners

Remember that one of the conditions of your accreditation is that you keep the Attorney Generals Department up to date with:

  • your contact details, including place of employment,
  • email and
  • telephone details.

Place of Employment

One of our members recently received an email from the AG’s department who had been notified by their new employer that they were now working with them. The AG’s emailed to remind the FDRP that they have to let the AG’s Department know if their employment changes.

If you start working or contracting with a FDR service make sure that you send an email to the Practitioners Registration Department of the Australian Attorney Generals Department.

The other obligations include;

A suitable complaint’s mechanism

If you have recently joined Mediation Institute we will have prompted you to let the AG’s department know that Mediation Institute is your approved external complaints mechanism that can be used by your clients.

Professional Indemnity Insurance

If you have changed your insurer you must let the Attorney Generals know who you are insured with.

Professional Development Requirements

Remember that as well as your 25 hours of professional development with your NMAS Accreditation (if you are a NMAS Mediator) you also have to undertake at least 24 hours of professional development activities for every two years of accreditation.

You should have a good overlap between your NMAS and FDR requirements and if you engage with our professional development activities you will easily exceed these requirements.

  • Check out our events calendar for regular and special event webinars.
  • Offer to host a webinar on a suitable topic (3 hours of CPD for a 1 hour webinar to allow for preparation)
  • Participate as a role player, co-mediator or mentor in a student role play (contact us for access to the role play scheduler)

Ceasing practice and other changes

Keep this department up to date if you cease to practice as an FDR practitioner and anything else relevant to your accreditation.

Read this – https://www.ag.gov.au/FamiliesAndMarriage/Families/FamilyDisputeResolution/Pages/Foraccreditedfamilydisputeresolutionpractitioners.aspx

Reminder Online Group Supervision Session

Members are reminded that our monthly Online Group Supervision Session is on tomorrow at 7 pm Brisbane time. Joanne has emailed out a group invitation so that you can get this meeting into your calendar or you can manually add this regular meeting to your diary if you use an analog rather than digital system. […]

This Meeting is free for Mediation Institute RMAB members.

If you are a NMAS Mediator or accredited FDR Practitioner and would like to participate the fee is $35 per session.

If you are a current student of mediation or FDR you can join Mediation Institute Recognised Mediator Accreditation Body for only $20  https://rmab.mediationinstitute.edu.au/shop/mi-rmab-membership-options/student-membership/ 

Regular Webinar Schedule – Save the dates!

All of the upcoming events for Mi as well as others that come to our notice are on the Calendar on the RMAB Website – https://rmab.mediationinstitute.edu.au/events/

The Mediation Institute Events are on a Blue background and the others blue writing on white.

We have two regular series of events running:

– 1st Wednesday of each month 7 pm Online Group Peer Supervision  https://rmab.mediationinstitute.edu.au/event/online-group-peer-supervision/all/ Joanne Law is running those ones and the Zoom meeting number is 9282726252

– 3rd Wednesday of each month at 7 pm Mediation Practice https://rmab.mediationinstitute.edu.au/event/mi-webinar-the-mediation-practice-development/all/ Ken Speakman is running those ones and the meeting number is 555 222 255

– We’ve got a special webinar with a Canadian Based expert on Visual Mediation on the 16th October at 12 pm on my meeting number 928272625 https://rmab.mediationinstitute.edu.au/event/webinar-visual-media-lisa-arora/

Other things will come up from time to time so keep an eye on the weekly email that should go out automatically to you with all of the posts from that week. Let us know if you are not getting that so we can update our records.