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A Somewhat Alphabetical Dictionary of Conflict Resolution Terms, Theories and Hypothetical Constructs

ADR: pick one from each category Appropriate, Alternative, Acceptable, Antagonistic Disagreement, Dispute, Dialogue, Deliberation Reconciliation, Recognition, Resolution, Restitution

Mediation: 1.) a process, dialogue or conversation, where two or more parties work with one or more impartials, to (and here’s where it gets a little vague) help them more clearly understand the nature of reality and their meaningless role therein, 2.) where two or more somewhat disagreeable people are within earshot a supposed neutral who tries to move heaven and earth in a desperate attempt to reach some sort of finality.

Mediation Process, The: the Bible, Koran, Torah, Bagidvagita and Dhammapada for mediators. It is as big as these books combined, don’t you think it’s big enough?

Problem Solving Mediation: putting the solution right where it belongs, in the hands of the mediator.

Evaluative: what I think of what you should do, in my humble opinion

Directive: what you should do, in my humble opinion

Law: 1.) ground rules with fines and jail time, 2.) the best ground rules money can buy.

Common Law: ground rules for serfs and slaves.

Consensus: most of us kind of agree, I think.

Ombudsman: trust me, I’m from Norway.

Dialogue: can we just talk?

Golden Rule: you go first.

What If: mediation fairyland, where unicorns and leprechauns spend their days dancing in sun drenched forests.

Mandatory: sorry, we didn’t mean to imply that you had to be here

Intervener: mother-in-law

Justice: a possible unintended consequence of ADR

Distributive and Procedural: two forms of an unintended consequence.

Impasse: have you thought of maybe a career change?

Role reversal: Jack Lemmon in “Some Like It Hot.”

Arb-Med or Med-Arb: I’ll pretend to be neutral if you pretend to get along.

Bargaining: 1.) giving up, 2.) giving in or 3.) getting out.

Advocacy: speaking up without speaking out.

Transformative Mediation: How many transformative mediators does it take to change a relationship? Try light bulbs first. How many transformative mediators does it take to change a light bulb? Let’s just wait (in the dark) and hear what the light bulb would like to share.

Unified Theory of Conflict Resolution: see Cloke’s Theorem.

Cloke’s Theorem: a unified theory of conflict resolution, Empathy = Mediation times Cloke squared. Cloke, see also dagger.

Facilitation: like mediation with more people, also used in many lines of work as in ” I’ll be your food facilitator this evening,” and “Hey, I’m Joey, your car repair facilitator.”

Negotiation: like mediation without the mediator, difficult to charge for services.

Litigation: the final step in a dispute, usually just before mediation is attempted.

Adjudication: trial by fire.

Arbitration: private trial by fire

Conciliation: the creation of ethical dilemmas with privileged information.

Getting to Yes: first in a series of books that includes Getting Past No, Getting Over Yes, Getting to Maybe, Getting Nowhere, Why bother?, Who Cares? and OK, Fine.

Win-win: a theoretical concept where all parties benefit, commonly used by car salesmen and telemarketers.

Win-lose: now we’re talking real world.

Lose-lose: where both parties actually walk away with less than they started, only the most skilled practitioners ever attempt a lose-lose.

Brinksmanship: my mediator can beat up your mediator

Empathy: I don’t care how much you know until I know how much you care.

Re-framing: You talking to me? Didn’t you hear me the first time? You want a piece of this I-statement? Starting over after the structure collapses.

Active listening: a right hook or an uppercut.

Anger Management: just put down the gun and let’s talk.

Face Saving: botox

Ignorance: lack of knowledge.

Apathy: lack of emotion.

Difference between ignorance and apathy: I don’t know and I don’t care.

Why?: either the first or the last question in a mediation, also may be both the first and last question..

BATNA: Walk softly and carry a BATNA

WATNA: a small town in Wisconsin.

Position: 1.) a rock, 2.) a hard place, 3.) somewhere between 1 and 2

Interest: when positions are compounded daily; see also APY, A Party Yelling; BPY, Both Parties Yelling; MC, Mediator Crying.

Conflict Management: 1.) trying to hold water together without a container, 2.) practicing catching foul tips.

Reflection: being able to look at yourself in the mirror after a knock down drag out mediation and holding your head up high while saying “Why did I ever get into this line of work?”

WW_D? a hypothetical question that asks what would blank do? Blank could be Roger Fisher, Chris Moore, Joel Folger, Ken Cloke, Bernie Mayer or Mister Rogers.

Impartial/Neutral: Sweden, Switzerland, or other countries beginning with Sw

Promise of Mediation, The: raise your hand if you want to transform.

Good faith / bad faith / no faith: three stages of participation

Emotion: a burden, a choice, a way of life.

Emotional Intelligence: through careful modeling of body language and tone, developing a deeper understanding of why this party is the world’s biggest jerk.

Body language: unspoken signals designed to inspire, confuse, infuriate and control the other party, see Lauren Bacall in “To Have and Have Not.”

I-statement: where a party takes ownership; for example: I want everything you own; or You mean to tell me I own my emotions?,

Ground rules: defined actions under specific circumstances, ex. A baseball that bounces over the fence is a double.

Agenda: open, hidden, obscure.

Storytelling: once upon a time, a narrative with just enough truth to keep the other party on their toes. A simile is to a metaphor as an analogy is to a ___________.

Square One: a safe place to start.

Square Two: we’re lost, back to square one.

Caucus: a private meeting where an impartial mediator can lay down the law to an unreasonable party.

Options: pork bellies and buying on margin, see Futures.

Futures: pick one: rosy, bleak

Intractable: when you can’t get the umbrella to close

Agreement/Resolution/Memorandum of Understanding: a theoretical endpoint to a mediation, but don’t call it a contract.

Boilerplate: used by shipbuilders to maintain a vessel’s integrity, see also Titanic.

Competition: no one wins, like a Car Talk Puzzler or a Midway Carnival Game.

Accommodation: when relatives stop by for the weekend unexpectedly and stay 3 months as in “Why don’t you find a different accommodation?”

Collaboration: like a quark, physicists can describe it but no one’s actually seen one.

Ethics: 1.) someone else did something wrong, 2.) applying my values to your actions, 3.) we judge others by their actions, we judge ourselves by our intentions.

Why did the mediator cross the road? To see the other side.

Knock, knock Who’s there? Mediator Mediator who?

Copyright 2006, Trip Barthel


Trip Barthel

TRIP BARTHEL is the Founder and Executive Director of the Neighborhood Mediation Center in Reno, Nevada. Trip practices and teaches mediation and conflict resolution through the National Judicial< College, University of Nevada, Reno, and Truckee Meadows Community College. Trip has worked in Russia, China and India during the last 3… MORE >

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