A presentation by Dorit Cypis and Milan Slama


This is an interactive presentation that recognizes the important role that anxiety and identity play in challenging mediators to “mediate courageously”. To be effective mediators we must recognize our own anxieties when we mediate difficult situations, discomforting topics and challenging clients, and assess how much risk we are willing to take before endangering the process of mediation and losing necessary trust of the parties. Mediators participating in this session will increase their capacity to be more receptive to the anxieties of their parties, and to reflect on the role anxiety has in their own lives and the impact on their mediation practice. As a result participants will learn how to overcome performance anxiety and build their confidence.

We know as mediators that conflict takes place at the borders that separate people from each other creating fertile ground for identity confusion and anxiety. A natural corollary to external borders between people are internal borders that individuals develop to keep safe, survive conditions of difficulty and maintain emotional balance. Quite often our internal borders replay beliefs that no longer serve us, biasing our capacity to meet new situations flexibly, hence increasing anxiety. Conflict between people is often mirrored by conflict within people, eroding trust and empathy, fueling anxiety and separation.

Seen positively, every border is also a point of contact where opposing sides can negotiate coming together. This session will include – a mediation case study on anxiety based in identity confusion – negative and positive distinctions on aspects of anxiety i.e. fear, normal and pathological (neurotic), freedom (possibility) and security, restlessness and tranquility, prudence and creativity, self-doubt and confidence, rejection and approval, control and acceptance – and capacity building skills to more subtly recognize and empathize with differences of personal and social identity. When we as mediators go beyond our internal boundaries to more effectively identify and assess the boundaries that separate parties in conflict, we are free to “mediate dangerously”.
(thank you Ken Cloke)