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Mediators And Centurions Have More In Common Other Than Wearing Shoes

After forming a new ADR firm, I am always asked the question, why did you choose the name ‘Centurion Mediation’ for your business? Centurions conjure up images of battles and aggressiveness, not the attributes of a mediator who should be peace building and peacemaking individuals. I wonder if any of these questioning individuals have ever mediated a dispute. It is far from a kinder- gentler, soul searching and peace loving process. Mediators have more in common with shoe wearing Centurions. Centurions are adept in using their weapons, skilled at preparing to go to battle, and focus on achieving the enemy to surrender. Mediators, like Centurions, battle conflict. They are adept and skilled at using various tools in conquering conflict. Mediators do not allow the conflict enemy to lie, but doggedly pursue it and silence it with a settlement treaty.

The Shoe wearing Roman Centurion

We have learned a lot from the Romans including how to strategically fight wars. The Roman Centurion soldier, which would cover today’s range of ranks of lieutenant colonel or colonel, had to meet educational qualifications, as well as being highly trained and skilled in fighting the enemy. The more educated the more chance of becoming a Centurion. A Centurion was specifically chosen for his skills, strength and dexterity in using his weapons. A centurion was vigilant, temperate and active.

Centurions were highly sought after individuals and the army was willing to transport them, provide shoes to wear and march them over considerable distances to reach a new assignment. Centurions diligently prepared for an impending clash in the field. Information was gathered from spies, collaborators, diplomats, envoys, and allies. Several days were spent in a location studying the terrain and opposition. Pre-battle maneuvering was typical for Centurions, which included the process of wearing down the enemy by cutting off food supply lines. The preparation was an important tactic in successfully overcoming the enemy.

Centurions suffered heavy casualties in battle, generally fighting alongside the legionaries they commanded. They led and inspired their men by example. They also sought to display the skill and courage that got them to their rank in the first place. To a centurion, the army was truly his life and Centurions did not seek a discharge.

Great Mediators follow the path of the Roman Centurion in Battling Conflict

A great mediator, like a Centurion, prepares for battle, is flexible in tactics and methods, has a strong sense of discipline, and has a ruthless persistence to resolution.

Preparation is the Hallmark of a great Mediator which leads to victory over the battle against conflict. Similar to a Roman Centurion, Mediators perform reconnaissance by speaking and interacting with the parties and stakeholders, reviewing procedural aspects of the impending battle and battle plans contained in briefs, discussing prior peace negotiations in the form of settlement demands, gathering facts and documents, probing emotional issues of the parties which will reveal the strengths and weaknesses of the enemy, conflict. This reconnaissance is pivotal to a successful victory over conflict.

Mediating is a demanding and brutal battle. Conflict is moving all around, hiding behind chairs, under tables, in files and at times presenting itself as the ally, but then sneaking up on the mediator. The Great Mediator is hired because she has the training and experience in facing the enemy and has been in the field for a long time. Conflict is understood and the mediator recognizes how it captures and takes hold of the litigants and attorneys.

After the reconnaissance is completed, the mediator straps on her shoes, puts on her plume and leads the way knowing that the litigant and attorney troops are there to battle conflict.

The mediator has her arsenal of weapons with her similar to the Roman Centurion consisting of the evaluative spear, the joint session catapult, the empathetic shield, and the Onager individual caucuses. Battle begins with the mediator being opened minded and sizing up the conflict enemy and making a determination as to which skills and weapons she should use to begin the battle, a joint session or individual caucuses. The mediator proceeds cautiously and does not have a strict adherence to her battle plan. She is always open to the unexpected.

With each fracas, she adeptly and quickly processes a substantial amount of information and moves swiftly using the appropriate weapons of empathy, listening, intuitiveness and may finish with the evaluative spear to deflate the conflict enemy. In all the fracases, the mediator is continuously using her interpersonal skills to woo away and draw out the conflict enemy. Conflict can be very persistent. In certain mediations, the mediator will have no other choice but cut off supply lines of each side to wear them down.

Great Mediators Never Walk Away From Mediation and Do Not Take Any Prisoners

Mediators protect their litigant and attorney troops from being captured as a prisoner of the conflict. The dedicated mark of a centurion is that they do not walk away from the battle and leave the enemy to gain strength. A mediator may retreat to review her battle plan, to strategize and allow the litigants to review their casualties and to rethink their position. A mediator never collects her fee and walks away from an ongoing battle. She will charge back in and continue the fight against conflict with displaying skill and courage. She will use her additional weapons of follow up, gather additional reconnaissance to see how the enemy has changed its position and will proceed with additional fracases. At the end the Mediator, like a centurion, causes the conflict enemy to surrender and sign a settlement treaty. As we all know, conflict is never eradicated. The conflict can be silenced and put to rest in a particular battle, but the war against conflict will always continue.

To a centurion the army was truly his life and Centurions did not seek a discharge. Great mediators follow in the steps of centurions and are the most hard-working and committed to the profession of mediation. If a Mediator has not strapped on her shoes, she does not fight the conflict battle with skill, experience and courage of a Roman centurion. Great mediators strap on their shoes, find, lead and join professional mediation associations, publish, teach and stay in the field for a long time, never leaving and in the end, just fade away.


Elizabeth Moreno

Elizabeth A. Moreno is a  mediator and arbitrator in the Los Angeles area and will travel to resolve disputes within the Los Angeles, Orange, Ventura, western San Bernardino and western Riverside Counties.  Ms. Moreno has been a mediator since 2000 and concentrates in the areas of labor, employment, real estate… MORE >

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