The development of mediation as a social practice deserves to be considered as a profession in itself, not only by the scope posing on social issues, but also for the expected academic preparation of mediators to be constituted as such.
The task of mediating requires at least, having crossed a solid permanent formation penetrated by subjective reflection. It takes a special profile of mediator who understands certain characteristics and skills to perform to the best of his work, framed in ethics.
“Every profession is built with intellectual, conceptual and also with relevant skills to bring the practice to best results. We would be ignoring the formation of professional activities if we tear apart these two aspects, overlapped each other, with a need for coherence”
A current analysis point regarding the training of conflict operators is the question related to the skills that professionals who work in the virtual environment need to have.
A genuine e-mediator role should be built renouncing the original profession. Hence the importance for professionals in this field to integrate the “being” and the “doing”, taking care of oneself, letting the concepts underpinning these methods go through oneself and checking for a minimum consistency between what we are trying to stimulate in others and one’s own way of being.
Current practices in virtual environments invite us to a broader perspective to see beyond the usual limits.
Accordingly I propose to reflect on the changes that bring information and communication technology (ICT) to the training and practices of conflict operators. Particularly, I propose as a trigger for discussion to start thinking about which are the new spaces that ICT open or enable to create new instances of communication.
Usually in our proposals of methods of conflict resolution with ICT, to the intersection of disciplinary knowledge “we add” the technological knowledge. Traditionally, technologies are conceived as an extra set of knowledge and skills we “must learn” and then “add” to the praxis.
However, a new approach rightly emphasizes in the need of not thinking technology as a colorful “aggregate” -separated and, therefore, additional- to the discipline knowledge. Technological and disciplinary knowledge are supposed to integrate ICT to our mediations, which involve not only knowing the tools, but also “rearranging” our practices, reviewing and checking our disciplinary knowledge when we include technologies. This is, essentially, to put each of these sets of knowledge to serve the others, in total, to enrich mediation practices.
A new challenge then arises: how would the interplay of technology and disciplinary knowledge result in our usual practice?
From the point of view of the skills and competences, it is necessary to work on two fundamental axes:
1) Training in the technical skills required to manage a virtual mediation room
2) The need to work with emotions in the cloud and carry out a process of active listening which also contemplates attentive and active reading, as well as changes in the proportions of verbal and nonverbal communication that we are accustomed.
Andres Vazquez Lopez sustains that e-mediators not only require the acquisition, training and mastery of this knowledge, technical skills and specific tools to this particular form of mediation, but also to have sufficient capacity and resources to analyze and evaluate whether the parties who choose to use this procedure may deal with it on an equal ground and competence.
The e-mediator, in addition to being familiar with and trained in the use of digital resources needed for the process, should test that the parties correctly understand the performance of ICT tools that will be used during the development of mediation and know how to use them correctly, with special emphasis on the mode, synchronous or asynchronous, to be chosen.
The society of knowledge has usually competent citizens with the practical skills necessary to act with a high degree of autonomy in different contexts, enabling them to interact digitally and communicate effectively. However, technological literacy and access to the virtual environment are considered far from universal, serving only some sectors of the population with different training profiles.
The prominence that acquires technology in the electronic procedure requires e-mediation a surplus of collateral requirements in order to ensure the identity of the participants and the respect to the general principles of mediation. But also introduces other demands directly related to mediators’ and parties’ technological literacy, skills and abilities and incorporates a new scenario to professional ethics.
In this sense, e-mediation also tends to training in understanding, as a collateral warranty for human solidarity. Such understanding ethics would lead to:
? Spaces of recognition of others.
? Strengthening foster values and attitudes such as tolerance and respect.
? Consolidation of a flowing communication culture.
? Opening of broader and deeper intellectual paths.
? Tightening of the most significant and responsible social commitments.
From this perspective, the e-mediator operates culturally as a moral agent that provides a vital service to the community. This means the stake of ethical service, which is especially relevant to elicit a type of cordial, sensible and peaceful human coexistence.
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