Interfaith Mediation

My two main job professions is working in mediation/conflict resolution and law enforcement. One of my primary tasks working as a Detective in the NYPD is doing interfaith work the many different religious groups in New York City.

Something I have long been working to do in this capacity is bring together the mediation community and the interfaith community together as both sides can work together to increase the use of communication as a means of reducing and preventing conflict.

It is still something that I consider a work-in-progress, and was happily surprised to find the following article of the work being done in Pittsburgh:

Zen centers are supposed to epitomize calm, but there was anguish at a national Zen meeting last year as devotees reacted to sexual misconduct scandals involving prominent monks.

The Rev. Kyoki Roberts, head priest of the Zen Center of Pittsburgh, was as appalled by some of the responses as by the abuse itself. "I heard a Zen Buddhist teacher use the word 'vitriolic' to describe the victims," she said.

Rev. Roberts, who was a professional mediator before becoming a priest, knows that congregations of all faiths tear themselves apart after a scandal involving a trusted leader. Certain that there are ways to prevent that, she returned to Pittsburgh and founded An Olive Branch. It is dedicated to the prevention of misconduct in the wake of accusations

..."Our mediations were volatile. We were literally telling people to check their guns at the door. But we had a 98 percent success rate," she said.

Their success came from identifying and addressing deeper concerns behind the issue that people were fighting over, she said. If a group is torn over whether to keep a door opened or closed, they aren't really fighting about the door -- one group may have health concerns about an overheated building while another has safety concerns about who might walk through the door. Only when health and safety are addressed can a decision be made about the door.

Read more:
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Court To Cut Funding For CDRC's

Gloomy news out of New York State:

...Among the latest budget cuts announced by the Office of Court Administration are in the Community Dispute Resolution Center program.

There, funding for the April 2011 through March 2012 period will fall to $1.2 million from $2.2 million in the last fiscal year.

Read the full article [here].

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Event: New Technologies Changing Mediation & Conflict Resolution

Come Join Me!

I will be discussing how new technology is currently being used (by me!) to help train, teach and bring together dispute resolution academics, students, practitioners and professionals from all over the world.

I will also share how the Dispute Resolution and Psychology communities can converge on many topics. I provide the example, through the use of webinar software, of nonverbal communication and the importance it has in both fields.

You are invited to a special presentation and workshop on Monday, April 25 at 6-9 PM

New Technologies Changing Mediation and Conflict Resolution

This special program is jointly sponsored by the CUNY Dispute Resolution Consortium at John Jay College and the Organization, Consulting and Work Psychology Division of the New York State Psychological Association.

The use and limits of state-of–the-art and emerging technologies for mediation, conflict resolution and training will be presented by a distinguished panel, followed by a lively knowledge cafĂ© style workshop to determine potential applications by program participants. New technologies such as virtual world applications will be demonstrated during the presentations. Topics covered include:

· What’s the impact of new technologies (e.g. on-line mediation; virtual reality applications) on mediation, dispute and conflict resolution?

· What’s the impact of the social media explosion on mediation, dispute and conflict resolution?

· How can psychologists and mediation, dispute and conflict resolution professionals work together for the benefit of current and future clients?

· What’s the impact of new technologies (e.g. on-line mediation; virtual reality applications) and the social media explosion on organization and consulting psychology?

Panel participants include: Dr. Helen Rozelman, Jeff Thompson, Alex Yaroslavsky, and Dr Suzanne Roff-Wexler. The panel chair is Dr Richard Wexler.

When: Monday, April 25 at 6-9 pm

Where: John Jay College Multi-Purpose Room [445 W 59th St bet 9th and 10th Aves, 2nd fl near the Cafeteria]

Reservations are required due to building security and space is limited.

To register contact Dr. Suzanne Roff-Wexler at:

Admission is free for all members of the Organization, Consulting and Work Psychology Division of NYSPA, the CUNY Dispute Resolution Consortium, and John Jay Students. $15 suggested donation for all others. Refreshments Will Be Served


6:00 - 6:30PM Networking & Introductions
6:30 - 7:45 Panel presentations
7:45 - 8:45 Workshop

8:45 - 9:00 Networking & organization business

Special thanks to Drs Maria Volpe and Harold Takooshian for making this program possible.

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If You Are A Hammer, All You Will See Are Nails

If you are not aware of "Mediation: Skills and Techniques" by Laurence J. Boulle, Michael T. Colatrella Jr., and Anthony P. Picchioni it is definitely one of those books all mediators, rookies and seasoned veterans alike, should have in their possession. If you already have it, good on'ya mate! (yes, I just said that Aussie saying with my New Yawk accent!)

For today's post, I want to mention the section "Function of the Mediator" (page 14); Boulle et al describe mediation as

generally the process by which the mediator uses his or her various
skills and selectively applies various techniques or interventions to assist the participants in practical decision making about their dispute.

What does that mean?

To me, it means every situation is unique yet you need the skills training and the proper understanding of how each skill can be used and applied for each situation. The cliche saying of if all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail comes to mind.

For mediators, if all you have is validating, all you will ever say is, "So it sounds like you are upset." Good luck with that.

Having the skills, and realizing that each skill needs to be used differently, even in similar situations reminds me of two of my other favorite things- poker and nonverbal communication.

In Texas Hold'em Poker (we really should have a mediator's only tournament at the next big conference, right?), you could get the same hand three times in a row, including Aces, and all three times the hand could play completely differently. You need to adapt the way you 'play' your Aces.

In nonverbal communication, scratching one's neck could mean nervousness, just being itchy, or possibly boredom. Looking at clusters, the context and congruence with the the words being spoken are all important in discerning the nonverbal cue.

My, point, which I think I have, is having the skills and ability to know which skill to use and how to use it is important.

Three ways I suggest to sharpen those skills is through:

1. Reading and studying mediation and conflict resolution books

2. Observation. Watch others, to see how they use the same skills you use... only differently.

3. Practice. Have others observe you and get feedback. Yes those feedback sheets are important from your parties but they are very limiting and biased. Have fellow peers observe you and/or attend workshops and trainings where you are able to participate in role plays to get feedback.
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Werner To Offer Online 8 Month Graduate Certificate In Negotiation & Dispute Res

Yes, my disclaimer is I am a graduate (MS, Neg/Dispute Res) from the Werner Institute. That said, they did not ask me to post this rather I found it on the internet.

Omaha, NE (PRWEB) April 4, 2011

Students can now earn a graduate certificate in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution in as soon as eight months, taught by the same highly credentialed faculty that teaches in the NDR master's program at Creighton University. The certificate, which requires 14 credit hours and a one-week residency, is based on the innovative and collaborative approach to conflict resolution developed by Creighton's Werner Institute.

The program combines foundational principles and advanced theories of conflict resolution strategies with practical applications. The online graduate certificate program meets a strong need for professionals in a wide variety of positions and fields, including HR and labor relations, business, government, the military, health care, relief and peacemaking organizations, insurance, criminal justice, and more.

The curriculum provides an intensive approach to conflict resolution and negotiation training through simulated role-playing, case studies, and other approaches. Students learn to deal successfully with real-world conflict using tools and techniques grounded in negotiated problem-solving, policy and principles of conflict management and mediation.

The Creighton online graduate certificate in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution is an interdisciplinary program that promotes an advanced understanding of how to bring parties together and reach optimal solutions. Students will learn to evaluate and manage potentially difficult situations from a broad perspective rather than a narrow view that simply identifies specific grievances between parties.

Students who complete the 14-credit hour online graduate certificate program have the option to matriculate into Creighton's master's degree in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution online program by completing an additional 18 credit hours with specialization and intensive mediation training.
For more information about the online graduate certificate in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution, go to or contact a Program Manager at (866) 717-6365.

About Creighton University

Founded in 1878 and grounded in the Jesuit and Catholic intellectual tradition, Creighton University is dedicated to preparing students to be responsible leaders and distinguished professionals who are committed to serving others. National recognition for Creighton's dedication to excellence includes consistently being ranked a top Midwest master's university by U.S. News & World Report. The University is also ranked as a "best value," for the return students receive on their tuition investment, and a "School to Watch" for its innovation.

Scott Sarrett
Corporate Development Marketing Manager


Read the full story at

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Seven (Sometimes Surprising) Facts About Mediation

Ever wonder how I get all the news and mediation related stories for and One of the ways is going to and search keywords such as "mediation."

This morning, during my search, the following came up which I am sure will generate some thoughts and comments (internally sure- will you post them... maybe?).


  1. The mediator can't force you to do anything
  2. You might not even see the other party
  3. There is a lot of waiting during mediation
  4. Most mediations settle in the last hour of the scheduled mediation
  5. sometimes settlement isn't the only purpose
  6. Even is mediation is unsuccessful, there may be further negotiations
  7. Every mediation is different
Read the list with descriptions from 4Hoteliers [HERE].

Am I the only one who would like to see the stats for point 4 and find out who are the mediators that relay so much on caucusing?
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Let's Here It For Research! (Hip Hip...)

If anyone felt like asking me to talk (briefly) about my current research, this is what I would say (today at least):

The unique nature of mediation- mediators interpret and adapt the foundational elements to fit their unique style and practice as well as to each specific case makes it most appropriate for qualitative analysis to be used to study it.

For example, the exploration of communication, specifically nonverbal channels, will not attempt to set a standard for the profession or develop 'theory' to be broadly implemented but rather identify critical elements used by individual mediators as well as a collection of predefined successful, experienced mediators.

The intended result of identifying these critical elements is to make plausible explanations allowing those in our field- both academia as well as professionals and practitioners- to reflect and apply the presented explanations to make mediators more effective in the services we provide.


I hope to have at least 7 responses from the various places I am posting this (twitter @nonverbalphd, @mediatorjeff, @ADRhub, EnjoyMediation, ADRhub, & Peace and Collaborative Network).

I plan on holding my breath too. I added the picture by the way to increase a response as I am smiling after all.
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