MEDIATION & CONFLICT MANAGEMENT
During a mediation I meet with two or more people in conflict to assist them in transforming the interaction so that the conflict loses its obstructive effect and a resolution becomes feasible.
Whether in a professional or private setting, when a conflict has reached a debilitating level, mediation by a neutral party can return a sense of clarity, understanding and (self-)respect to all involved. Often the result is that the quality of interaction improves, bringing relief, optimism and creative problem-solving capacity back to the parties.
My approach as a mediator is to not impose any particular path or solution on you. Rather, my goal is to support you in mobilizing your own, inherent resources to transform conflict dynamics that have become increasingly draining and may even feel hopeless. I do this by opening the space for you to “travel your personal healing journey,” by listening actively and intervening selectively to support your process of gaining clarity and seeing the other’s point of view.
Only you, the conflicting parties, know what is best for you. This is why you remain very much in control of what happens throughout the mediation. As you begin during the mediation to naturally shift towards a more precise understanding of your own and the other’s positions, interests and needs, decisions about what to do next tend to become easier and more coherent. As your mediator, my commitment is to support you with open-mindedness, focus and empathy in whatever decisions you take. The power to make decisions always remains with you and settlements are only binding if all parties involved in the conflict have agreed to them.
Upon request and in consultation with clients, I offer to integrate elements of mindfulness practice in the mediation. These may include a short breathing meditation, listening to the sound of a bell, slow-walking and performing a body scan. When used appropriately, these practices can effectively reduce reactivity and facilitate a transformative, heart-based connection between people in conflict.
I offer mediation of most types of conflict including partnership and family disputes, conflicts at the workplace or in a project team, neighbor and flat-share disputes, disputes among community groups and more.
Mediations are usually scheduled in 1.5 to 2-hour sessions at flexible intervals that fit your needs. In some cases, especially in group mediations involving more than 2 people, other formats such as sessions lasting a day or more can be preferable. If necessary, mediation can be conducted by video-conferencing in most cases.
To do justice to the complex and often subtle dynamics of the mediation process, I may choose to collaborate with a co-mediator.
If all parties to a conflict are not willing or able to participate in a mediation, I offer to work with one party to illuminate the conflict and develop insights and specific tools for handling a conflict. Conflict coaching can help you clarify your needs, understand differing or opposing perspectives, develop effective conflict management strategies, make high-quality decisions and rehearse anxiety-producing conversations.
Often it is best to develop conflict competency and prevention strategies before problems arise or escalate. This may be particularly beneficial during periods of rapid change and transition in your organization or group. I offer customized workshops to share techniques ranging from mindfulness practice to Nonviolent Communication (NVC) to enable your group to reduce conflict wherever possible and to move through it more smoothly where it cannot be avoided.
As a facilitator I offer to moderate your group’s organizational or strategic planning, change processes, retreats, conferences and other events. I build on my skills as a mediator and active listener to run your session effectively while eliciting broad and authentic participation.
I facilitate sharing circles at your place of work or other location to build and deepen a shared connection among circle participants. To the sound of the bell, we take time to sit and walk in silence and to speak about what is alive inside of us. We practice loving speech and compassionate listening with each other and plant the seeds for peaceful interactions in the future, while helping deescalate existing conflicts.
Sharing circles can be themed according to your group’s specific needs. Possible themes might include:
- Nonviolent Communication (NVC)
- Dealing with organizational change
- Dealing with loss
- Addressing divisions and fractioning
- Stress management
- Celebrating positive occasions
- and more
Sharing circles can be integrated in various group activities, including mediation (as “peace circles”), strategic planning retreats, conferences and team-building events. They help deepen the connection and cohesion among colleagues, adversaries, friends and family and support authentic, trusting and joyful relationships.
TENDING THE EARTH
Tending the Earth
One of the most important mediations of our time may be the one of the conflict between us humans and our natural environment–the Earth. Tending the Earth is the practice of mindfully working together in vegetable gardens or on small farms. It is a healing practice that can help us acknowledge the many injuries we are causing the Earth, allow us to recognize ourselves as part of nature, and fall back in love with Mother Earth.
For two years I practiced Tending the Earth in Plum Village, the meditation center founded by Thich Nhat Hanh. There I was allowed to witness the transformation it produced in me and others:
“As people of all walks of life come together and joyfully sink their hands into the soil — some of them for the first time in many years — they experience a nourishing, heartfelt connection with their brothers and sisters, deepen their understanding of the entire web of life and offer their true presence to the earth. Working the soil in this manner is a bit like caressing the earth and being caressed by her in return.
During our mindful work we are held tenderly by Mother Earth just as we are, with all our joys and pains. Without discrimination, Mother Earth welcomes us back, perhaps wondering what took us so long. And so we experience a renewed love for Mother Earth, a renewed connection. We can now experience that the earth is not something outside of us but that she is in us and that we are a part of her. This is not a transformation of the head, but of the heart. It takes root slowly, almost without notice, unfailingly.“
Tending the Earth is best practiced in groups in urban vegetable gardens or on small farms. Access to these sites varies from season to season and depends on the specific requirements of those managing them. If you would like to Tend the Earth with your group, please contact me with your needs and we’ll see how, when and where to best accommodate them.
For photos of Tending the Earth on Plum Village Happy Farm and elsewhere please see the gallery.
Mindful Gardening Workshop, Jun 16, 2021
On Wednesday, Jun. 16, at 16 hrs I will once again be offering a workshop on mindful gardening at the Urania Berlin. The event is free, but registration is required. Go to Achtsam durch den Garten for complete information and to register. I look forward to seeing you in the garden.
Tending the Earth, May 15, 2021
I will be at the Prinzessinnengarten Kollektiv Berlin at the New St. Jacobi cemetery at Hermannstr. 99 in Berlin-Neukölln. As part of the Garden Activities Day, I will be guiding a mindful farming session starting around 11:00 hrs. on the small vegetable field in the back of the garden. Participation is free but prior registration is required. Information about how to register and about COVID-19 rules for this event is posted here (only in German, so please ask a friend to translate if necessary).
Mindful Gardening, Apr 17, 2021
I will be at the Prinzessinnengarten Kollektiv Berlin at the New St. Jacobi cemetery at Hermannstr. 99 in Berlin-Neukölln. As part of the Garden Activities Day, I will be offering mindful gardening from about 11:00 to 15:00 hrs. Participation is free but prior registration is required. Information about how to register and about COVID-19 rules for this event is posted here (only in German, so please ask a friend to translate if necessary).
Inclusive Workshop “Was fühle ich?”, Mar 23, 2021, feat. Hannah Rosenblatt
TUML (Teilhabe und Mitbestimmung Leben / Living Participation and Co-Determination) is a book project in simple language for people with and without disabilities. In this free online workshop we’ll be looking at feelings and how to better recognize and work with them in everyday life. All TUML programs are currently only available in German.
Tending the Earth, Oct 17, 2020
Once again, I’ll be at the New St. Jacobi cemetery at Hermannstr. 99 in Berlin-Neukölln. As part of the Activities Day, I will be guiding a mindful farming session at 11:00 hrs. on the small vegetable field in the back of the garden. I invite you to join me for a deep touching of the earth. Participation is free.
Mindful Gardening Workshop, Sep 16, 2020
On Wednesday, Sep. 16, at 16 hrs I will be offering a workshop on mindful gardening at the Urania Berlin. The event is free, but registration is required to keep our group small enough to practice social-distancing. Go to https://www.urania.de/achtsam-durch-den-garten-0 for more information.
Tending the Earth, Aug 15, 2020
I will be at the Prinzessinnengarten Kollektiv Berlin at the New St. Jacobi cemetery at Hermannstr. 99 in Berlin-Neukölln. As part of the Garden Activities Day, I will be working mindfully from about 11:00 to 15:00 hrs. on the the small vegetable field and I invite you to join me. Participation is free.