Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Why Can't Mediators Share?

Sure, this title is a play on the old question: 'Why Can't Johnny Read?', but the desire for a sincere answer is real.

When Laurie Israel of MediationtoStayMarried.com shared how welcoming John Fiske of Divorce Mediation Training has been to her as she builds her marital mediation practice, it awakened a memory for me and revived a question. (More soon on the terrific teleseminar with Laurie).

The Opener of Doors

"Be the opener of doors for such as come after you." Ralph Waldo Emerson

Years ago when I was a newbie mediator considering divorce mediation as a career, John Fiske welcomed me into his office and into the field providing a wealth of information, and most importantly, encouragement. He informed my career in many ways but the most endearing gift he offered was the idea that I should always try to help others in the field. I've done just that over the years and can honestly say I've been the one helped the most.

Why Can't Mediators Collaborate with Each Other?

So, here's the quandry: Mediators often encourage parties to collaborate, yet we don't share referrals, information and resources with each other? Why don't we work together to 'expand the marketplace pie'? Why do we continue to see each other as competitors?

It's a strange paradox that is difficult to understand. Sometimes, I wonder whether this barrier is caused by a collective identity crisis. Perhaps mediators who lack the imagination to see and value their skills in new ways cling to being labelled in the traditional ways (family, divorce, workplace, commercial) so new additions to those already tight niches seem threatening. Hence, the turf wars, cold shoulders, and very little growth for the field.

Wouldn't it be great if we could take a page from our own book and brainstorm new ways to serve peace and our communities? I firmly believe that creating niche practices is the most effective way to do that and make a good living.

What does this mean to you? Don't let skepticism or fear prevent you from reaching out to mediators and organizations in the field. Actively seek ways to collaborate and share referrals. Be the opener of doors for those who come after you and those who stand besides you.

Thousands of candles can be lit from a single candle, and the life of the candle will not be shortened. Happiness never decreases by being shared" Buddha

Try. Fail. Learn. Grow!



At 7:17 PM, Blogger Victoria Pynchon, said...

Actually, I DO share resources, as do all of my friends who are mediators. As do all of my blogging friends. I don't find that mediators "don't collaborate." In my experience, they're the most generous professionals around. Do you really experience it differently? Come on out to Los Angeles. It might be smoggy, but the fellow feeling is mighty fine.

At 2:45 AM, Anonymous Sandra Regev said...

You have no idea how true your thougts are internationally.
I am trying to build a new practice on Mediation and I run into the same feeling over and over again every time I try to reach for help or mentoring....
Love your posts!!

At 9:52 AM, Blogger Dina Lynch, ADRPracticeBuilder.com said...


You ARE one of the most generous mediators I know and my circle of mediator friends are also like minded. However, there is a vibe within our profession that's very disturbing. I've personally experienced the sense of fear, mistrust and 'hating' (as the kids say).

Aside from ADR organizations, when was the last time you heard of practitioners aligning their practices; sharing marketing costs; having a recognized client referral program? I bet not many.

This state of affairs is sad and frustrating because it prevents us from turning our collective attention to building and serving the marketplace. What's even sadder is that when the profession is overrun by those who understand how to work together to seize the opportunity, we'll have no one to blame but ourselves for being pushed out.

Consider this a wake-up call for all those who are willing to hear and change.

Best, Dina


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