A former mentor and professor during my MDR training at the Straus Institute in LA, Jeffrey Krivis, impressed the analogous format and tools of Improvisation that may be applicable in our capacities as Dispute Resolvers.
Many Jazz musicians, who are true “improv” artists, feel and know that once the rhythm starts we are compelled to play the song through and complete the set — much akin to this human desire and innate compulsion to play a conflict dynamic through once it is initiated.
Conflicts have ebbs and flows that Dispute Resolvers can tap into, essentially harnessing the conflict dynamic the Disputants are experiencing into a conciliatory or at least constructive direction.
Needless to say, the Disputants have a duty of mindfulness to their experience and response, being in the “conflict dynamic.” Disputants can seize the opportunity to contribute and “play along” to the improvisational rhythm being orchestrated by the Dispute Resolver, rather than hampering or blocking the inevitable progression.
In my own Dispute Resolution practice dealing with business owners on high-stakes disputes as a Negotiation Counsel, implementing and assimilating Improvisational techniques has added value and strengthened my effectiveness.
For brief instance, once the conflict beckons us to participate, we cannot resist the flow or control the dynamic, merely adding direction and some semblance of order to the conflict rhythm unfolding. If you beg to differ, try pausing a Jazz set to direct your cohorts, then resume the set — the feel and buzz of the moment will be lost, and seasoned musicians like Louis “Sachmouth” Armstrong were renowned for picking up anywhere in the beat and flowing with it to make harmonious sets come to fruition.
Improvisation has a core principal of “Yes, and…” that teaches to take whatever the dynamic throws at you, and build upon it moving forward, essentially developing momentum to move the trajectory and flow of the session forward in a constructive manner, which can sometimes be its own form of “making music.”
So, consider exploring Improvisational techniques or understanding to help produce “a peaceful rhythm” during your future sessions as Dispute Resolvers.
Her mission is to foster, support and promote mediators and other neutrals and to further increase peaceful resolution of conflicts. Raising public awareness as to the many values of mediation and increase its use to address a broad variety of public and private disputes in a confidential, safe and empowering process is her passion.
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