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Filters and Frames: Mediation is all About the Viewfinder

Neuroscience and Conflict Resolution Blog by Stephanie West Allen

Our brains are vigilant, hyperaware of any sensed change to see if it represents danger. Partly because they use a lot of our energy, our brains seek to deal with new information quickly and easily. So, rather like a photographer, the brain applies filters and frames. The filters shift, accentuate, and diminish what is seen. And the frames limit what is viewed to certain boundaries.

Changing the filters and the frames can make the shot new, fresh, and different. Perhaps the picture is improved—more clear, with a clarity that brings high resolution.

In a conflict, each party has a viewfinder; typically the views found are diverse, disparate, and sometimes painfully discordant. The less attention paid to those viewfinders, the more remote effective and satisfactory resolution becomes. In contrast, attention can bring a solution into focus.

By applying apps, filters, and frames below, I can display several versions of the same scene. (Please click on the pictures to see them full-sized; the quality is reduced by importing them into Typepad.) Do the different shots remind you of any dispute you have mediated? Any conflict in which you and another person have disagreed?

Conflict resolution can be as simple as becoming aware that our viewfinders are individual and often contrasting. Once in a while, coming to a resolution can even be a snap if we pay full attention to the fact that our views may be as different as a photo is from its negative.

When in conflict, it can help to snap to attention!

Continue reading "Filters and frames: Mediation is all about the viewfinder" »


Stephanie West Allen

Stephanie West Allen, JD, practiced law in California for several years, held offices in local bar associations, and wrote chapters for California Continuing Education of the Bar. While in CA, Stephanie completed several five-day mediation training programs with the Center for Mediation in Law, as well as a two-year intensive… MORE >

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