WHAT I’VE BEEN READING: When Stories Clash by Gerald Monk and John Winslade

When Stories Clash: Addressing Conflict with Narrative Mediation by Gerald Monk and John Winslade

In this short book, Monk and Winslade provide an overview of how they use narrative mediation to help people in conflict separate themselves from their conflict stories and to develop a new, joint story of the relationship they would prefer. Narrative mediation is based on the premise that working with clients’ conflict stories is more helpful than discussing individual actions, expectations and interests (which is often the focus of the facilitative model of mediation). Narrative mediation specifically recognizes some of the cultural forces that create the conditions for conflict and the way we tend to create stories about it.

Narrative mediation’s goals are (a) to create the relational conditions for the growth of a story of cooperation in the face of conflict; (b) to build a story of a relationship that is incompatible with the continuing dominance of conflict; and (c) to open space for people to make changes and to negotiate new understandings. The book introduces a number of techniques used by narrative mediators, including double listening, externalizing and mapping the effects, and building counter-stories. They also specifically consider how to create sustainable change, rather than an agreement that may not last or may not address some of the real problems underlying the conflict.

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