WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: Expert Mediators by Jean Poitras and Susan S. Raines

In this book, the authors Jean Poitras and Susan Raines, present a compilation of “best practices” from expert mediators across the world in dealing with common mediation challenges. They surveyed 186 experienced mediators across the world and from these results identified the most common challenges they faced in their practice. They then selected 101 of the mediators to describe their preferred strategies for dealing with these challenges.

There is a chapter on challenges including dealing with resistance to mediation, dealing with mistrust among parties, dealing with difficult attorneys, dealing with cultural differences, maintaining neutrality in mediation, dealing with parties’ emotions, moving from past to future focus and dealing with entrenched positions.

What I love about this book is that it is not just theoretical ideas about how to manage these challenges. Rather, it is a very descriptive collection of practices that expert mediators use to deal with these kinds of situations. Reading this book is like sitting in a room with a group of very experienced mentors who can answer your questions about the kinds of difficult situations we as mediators face in our practice.

The authors describe various techniques, when they should be used, and the level of risk associated with each strategy. They also refer readers to additional resources on each of the challenges.

This book is essential reading for mediators, but also very useful for anyone who works with people in conflict, as the challenges exist beyond that particular process.

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