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Subj: Re: Party's use of c-r skills
Date: 97-07-11 10:28:35 EDT
To: dispute-res@WWW.LAW.CORNELL.EDU,

The quote about stepping back and seeing yourself in the conflict
bears some similarity to a neurolinguistic programming (NLP) exercise
that many folks find very valuable. The exercise comes in many
variations, of course, typically called perceptual positions. It
includes three positions: self, other, and observer. The self
position is where we experience through our own senses, and react from
our own hearts (or guts, or minds, or whatever). The other position
(which is not described in Joe Maizlish's quote of Pelton) involves
experiencing the situation as the (or an) other party to the conflict
experiences it. The observer position involves stepping into the
experience of a neutral observer of both (all) parties (which should
feel familiar to mediators).

The idea is that, although we cannot truly experience events as others
do, we can learn from a sincere effort to do so, perhaps gaining
insights that might help us understand the other's positions,
interests, BATNA, etc. This is very challenging, though. Most folks
I've trained in this technique struggle to really leave behind their
own notions about the other person's motives, attitudes, and desires,
and at first step into a charicature of the least appealing qualities
that they attribute to the other person. Yet I've seen people quite
moved by the experience of getting beyond this hurdle and gaining a
new appreciation of the other party.

I believe that, used properly and ethically, this exercise can have a
strong, positive impact on the direction of a mediation. It is risky,
however, when the party going through the perceptual positions
exercise represents a constituency that is not going through the
exercise, because the representative's perspective on the mediation
process and desired outcomes of the process can be altered in ways
that may break his/her rapport with the constituents.

I'd be interested in others' experiences with and thoughts about using
this sort of exercise.

Jenifer Heath
Woven Egg Consulting
Woodward-Clyde International-Americas
Denver (that's a zero, not an o)

Used with express permission of the author.  A web site link will be added as soon as her web site is up and running. Any copyright notice is not a claim to a copyright on the original work of Jenifer Heath, who retains her rights of authorship and copyright in her material.

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