Sketchnoting For Mediators & Conflict Professionals

Words on paper (or screen) are sometimes just too plain and boring. I have read somewhere (actually here) that pictures help with recollection more than words while pictures and words combined are even better than just pictures.

I came across a tweet on sketchnoting and thought:

1) Hey, this looks pretty interesting.

2) What exactly is this that I think is interesting?

3) I need to learn more about this and then try it out myself.

Sketching noting is a method of note-taking. Instead of just a simple method of jotting down words, sketchnoting combines drawings with words to make the notes much more lively. The advantage for mediators and conflict resolution professionals can be using this method to not only help you recall information but also for those who teach and train others.

Brad Heckman of the New York Peace Institute does incredible drawings as part of his seminars workshops and trainings and not only is creative and makes the events more exciting- it helps me recall the information much better than alternatives (PowerPoint, lists, and notes).

Below is my first attempt at sketchnoting (click here to enlarge)- it of me offering a way for mediators and conflict resolution professionals to more easily recall my METTA acronym which raises awareness of all the nonverbal communication elements that exist while we are engaged in our work. (Read more on METTA here)

Three really good sites to learn more about sketchnoting are here:

  1. Eva Lotta Lamm's blog which gives a great overview of sketchnoting and site where she sells a book of her sketchnotes
  2. A slide-show explaining sketchnoting [HERE]
  3. Sketchnote Army- a good collection of examples
So, mediators and conflict professionals- do you sketchnote already? Do you think it can be helpful?
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How To Be An Expert Facilitator

I found this article from Dan Rockwell, the @LeadershipFreak on twitter.

John Spence shares some great insight from his 15+ years of being a facilitator.

The list includes:

  1. The number one goal as a facilitator is to have a clear map for where you’re trying to get to by the end of the event.

  2. To be a… Guide on the Side – not a Sage on the Stage!

  3. Another thing that I’ve learned over the years is that I use a progression of: Delivering information at the beginning of the session (setting the stage, setting the context, getting everyone on the same page, creating a shared language – and shared ideas around where we are going for the day and what is most important)

  4. Lastly, I typically follow up all my facilitations with a two or three page “Management Memo”

Read more of each of the above and more by clicking the link below:

[Read More HERE]

[Check John Spence's Website HERE]


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Archive Webinar: Transparent Mediation With Alan Gross

July 2011 Webinar - Transparent Mediation with Alan Gross from The Werner Institute on Vimeo.


Transparent Mediation :   Adding Training Elements To Mediation Sessions

Presented by Alan Gross



Conflict resolvers often offer trainings to individuals and groups who wish to improve management of conflict and to convert disputes into opportunities for change.   However mediators rarely share the techniques and strategies that they advocate in trainings with parties during mediation sessions.   In this session, we will consider how and when mediators can reveal and demystify concepts and tools in a manner that can empower participants to use them not only for work on the instant dispute that brought them to the table, but also to take away communication skills that  they have learned for application in other settings.


We will describe some examples of how we have shared mediation principles and strategies with parties in conflict.  Some of the tools that we have demonstrated to participants include active listening especially reflection, agenda building, brainstorming, reactive devaluation to proposals, and delaying reactions to other parties.   Using role play and discussion, we will demonstrate how we apply what we label "transparent mediation”.


Whether we disclose mediation tactics and principles via joint/individual pre-session trainings and/or via interventions during the actual joint mediation sessions, this presentation explores the potential salutary effects of “transparent mediation” on client satisfaction, effective communication, and increased inter-client understanding.


About Alan Gross: 

Alan Gross has mediated, arbitrated and trained  for more than 20 years at many venues in New York City where he has served as the Interim Senior Director, Training Coordinator, and 9/11 Family Mediation Coordinator for the Safe Horizon Mediation Program now known as the New York Peace Institute..    Gross was formerly Psychology Professor and Department Chair at the University of Maryland, a Fellow of the American Psychological Association, and the author and co-author of a textbook and more than 50 chapters, articles and papers related to conflict resolution and social psychology.  He is a founding and Board member of Mediators Beyond Borders.

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Reflective Practice For Mediators

Reflective Practice

Being a reflective practitioner is critical to being an effective mediator, ombuds, conflict coach, and any other conflict resolution role. The preceding statement is nothing new- I have said it many times on this blog as well as many others having said it in many other outlets.

A reflective practice can, and should be multi-faceted. Reflecting alone (perhaps by writing in a journal or taking time to review a recently concluded session) is beneficial but I do not think it should be the sole method of reflection. Just as we engage others during our job, engagement should also be a staple to our reflective practice.

I have been gravitating more towards academic research recently (I am currently striving towards a PhD with Griffith University Law School) and as part of my reflective practice, I took time away from my writing on nonverbal communication and mediation to do a brief survey on... well nonverbal communication and mediation!

I think the brief survey has already given me some valuable quantitative data which can (or should!) be further elaborated with qualitative means (that's what my PhD will attempt to do). What this information has allowed me to do is to reflect on various nonverbal elements which has a direct role in me being an effective, or in-effective, mediator. The second step then is after that personal reflection is to then see how it compares to others.

The comparison is not from the mindset of someone being "right" or "wrong" but rather seeing other peoples opinions and thoughts. Here's some quick tidbits:

21 mediators
65% were certified mediators
35% not certified

Mediator's Introduction (n=20)
60% believe it is very important
40% believe it is important

Believe Nonverbal Communication is important for mediators (n=21)
65% very important
35% important

68% think a mediator (male) wearing a suit is not appropriate for community mediation (n=19)
100% think a mediator (male) wearing a suit is appropriate for divorce mediation (n=20)

I'll save my interpretations and opinions for another post. I'd much rather hear/read what everyone else has to say.

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3 Minute Thesis Contest: Nonverbal Communication & Mediation

Well, most of 'loyal' readers know by know that I am doing a PhD on Nonverbal Communication. Have a look at my YouTube submission for Griffith University's "3 Minute Thesis Contest" in which each contestant has to describe their thesis for an academic audience in, you guessed it, only three minutes.

The three main concepts of my research, and described below, are Nonverbal Communication, Mediation, Semiotics, Ethnography and Thin Slice Methodology.

Below the video is also the Prezi presentation as I know it is not easy to see it clearly on the video.

Enjoy and feedback is always appreciated!

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