Dealing with Difficult People

We have to face dealing with difficult people at any time in our lives (and at both work and in our home lives). But in general, it’s not so much that the people themselves are difficult (although there are exceptions to this of course), but it is more likely that we find their current behavior difficult to deal with at a particular point of time.


The Future of Mediation: Mediators As Problem Finders, Makers, and Designers

In 1964 two University of Chicago social scientists conducted an experiment at the Art Institute of Chicago. They invited a group of students to select from among random objects set up on tables, and then draw a still life. Some of the students examined just a few items, selected the ones that interested them, and got right down to drawing. Other students handled more of the objects, turning them over many times before selecting the ones that interested them. They rearranged their chosen objects several times and took longer to complete the assigned still life.


The Future of Alternative Dispute Resolution

The basis for my speculation is my 51 years of ADR experience, which I describe briefly below. I began mediating in 1963 as an Assistant Labor Conciliator for the State of Minnesota, and in 1964, I became a FMCS mediator. That work gave me an opportunity to not only do labor-management mediation work, but also to follow the growth of ADR practice into other sectors of society by reading, researching, writing, associating with organizations beyond labor-management, and earning an EdD.


Family Mediation - Preface

The Children and Families Act 2014 in England and Wales is focusing more attention on the role of family mediation in the family justice system. Family mediators have been given greater responsibility to encourage consideration of non-court dispute resolution processes before application is made to the family court, and to assess the suitability of mediation in particular circumstances.


Don't Rush

There is a lot of talk nowadays about the apparent failure of mediation to live up to its potential. Reports published on paper and online, presented before institutions or at various conferences, point to the relatively low number of mediation cases compared to the number of lawsuits filling the logs of the courts and then draw the inevitable conclusion that mediation has missed the opportunity of (be)coming mainstream.


Be Less Certain—and More Flexible

An upfront confession— I have no idea what the future of mediation holds—and I don’t think anyone else does either.  I still can’t believe Ronald Reagan was elected President (or for that matter Governor of California), so I have no illusions about my ability to predict the future.  And that is a good thing.  If we learn only one thing from complexity science, it ought to be that no matter how much we analyze, study,  reflect, and dissect, we live in a chaotic world and all human systems are complex and nonlinear.


Divorcing couples seeking more mediation

Roseann Vanella sees more than her fair share of marriages ending in divorce. Typically, she said, couples aren’t happy to see her at first, especially when one spouse isn’t interested in pursuing a split. By the time her clients have completed the process of dissolving their union and dividing assets, they may view her as a good friend.


Branding the Industry of Mediation

We are in troubling times. The option to use mediation as a tool to aid in conflict resolution should be the beginning of many conversations. There are many issues that plague our world today, for example, how we speak and deal with each other as colleagues. Mediation is as good as the mediator is and as good as those participating in the process.


After the Conflict is Resolved

You are walking away at the end of the argument. Your hands are shaky and clammy. Or you are walking from your lawyer's office or a mediation session. Although you reached a settlement, you are tired and wired. It has not sunk in yet: this battle is almost done. Or the arbitrator's decision is sitting unopened in your e-mail inbox. The hair on the back of your neck stands up and your throat closes as you reach for the mouse.



Connie Theron, Practising Attorney - UCT Law Clinic
“While working at the University of Stellenbosch Legal Aid Clinic and later at the UCT Law Clinic, I found the pro bono mediation services of Gerrie van der Watt of the Mediation Centre to be highly professional and extremely effective in our divorce matters. It is fantastic that our clients, with little or no financial means, can benefit from such an excellent programme.

The mediators are able to provide a non-threatening environment in which the clients are able to talk openly about issues that matter most to them, but which the Court in a divorce matter may choose not to entertain. Through the mediation sessions, the clients are able to reach an agreement together which ultimately they are both happy with. In cases where mediation did not yield the result of a settlement, the process was still extremely valuable, giving the parties better perspective and highlighting the key issues in dispute.”