Leaonard, Sam (1994). Mediation: The book. A step-by-step guide for dispute resolvers. Evanston, IL: Evanston Publishers. The writer provides a summary of many chapters of the book and also chooses a way to classify the book and discuss the writer's feelings about it. There was one source used to complete this paper.
As the world continues to globalize it becomes more important than ever to determine effective ways to resolve conflict. People run into conflict often, whether it is socially, during work, or during volunteer activities. Conflicts can be small or large and small conflicts can become large if they are not handled properly. The ability to resolve conflict provides a skill that is marketable in every industry and every situation. An author who can teach others in the ways of conflict resolution provides the world with a great service. In Sam Leaonard's; Mediation: The book. A step-by-step guide for dispute resolvers, the reader is taken on an intensive exploratory journey through the world of conflict resolution. Leaonard examines every aspect of conflict including cultural definitions and other important elements to its resolution. The book is a classic and well written primer about how to resolve conflict at all levels, in all scenarios.
The book begins its ascent to conflict resolution answers in chapter three when the author begins to take the reader on a journey in which conflict is defined. In this chapter the author discusses the various aspects of growing up in different parts of the United States. He feels this is an important foundational building block in the journey to learning conflict resolution skills because it helps the reader understand the regional and cultural differences that are encountered in various areas. He provides concrete examples of each area of the nation and discusses how people in those area generally handle conflict when it occurs (Leaonard pg 29).
This chapter also discusses what conflict is. According to the author conflict is nothing more than interfacing of energy patterns (Leaonard pg 30).
The third chapter ends with some a discussion about how conflicts are sometimes handled whether they are effective or ineffective techniques.
As the reader leaves the third chapter and enters chapter four the author strives to provide the reader with an understanding of how to diagnose conflict. The author discusses the three tools that are used to diagnose conflict. The chapter goes into intense detail about this conflict resolution ability and uses many very detailed examples of how different techniques have been tried.
The fourth chapter also touches in an index for healthy vs. unhealthy conflict resolution. Following this basic introduction the chapter illustrates the six types of conflict and what they mean to those who become engaged in them.
Chapter five provides a historical overview of the nation's self attempt at conflict resolution. He details litigation over the last fifty years and discusses the statistics that show the pattern of conflict resolution that Americans have used (pg 50). Chapter five also provides an overview of several published studies regarding conflict resolution using examples from those studies to illustrate that the tried ways have not proven themselves to be the true ways.
Chapter six discusses the basic principles of the new paradigm that the author wants used for the purpose of conflict resolution. This is where he states that the book is about providing a new alternative style of conflict resolution. The chapter is exceptionally short but packs in a ton of information. One of the things that it provides for the reader is a list of goals for conflict resolution.
Chapter seven is more detailed in its goals but it has to be because it breaks down the language of dispute resolution. The chapter is nothing more than a dictionary of terms used in conflict resolution and there meanings. It also presents reinforcements for the book's foundational belief that the best way to resolve conflict is to focus on using mediation for the purpose.
Chapter eight again moves backwards in time but this time it goes back to the days of tribes and tells a fictional fantasy example of how he wants conflict to be resolved. The chapter is devoted to unveiling a perfect fantasy of tribal conflict resolution and how it would work. This is an important aspect and exercise because it allows the idea to formulate in the mind of the reader that conflict resolution can be redone and done successfully.
Chapter nine leaves the world of fantasy and returns the reader to reality when it ventures into the discussion of mediation. The chapter outlines what the author believes are important elements to being a mediator. Using the results of a 1992 survey styled study he proves that by and large people would rather resolve conflict in ways other than litigation. This chapter goes on to detail in a numbered checklist what skills and personal qualities it takes to become an effective mediator (Leaonard pg 87).
Once the skills and personality traits of an effective mediator are established in chapter nine the author opens chapter ten with the journey of mediation. The author uses the skill checklist to discuss each skill in detail. For example in being an effective listener the author also talks about how to do that through the use of validation, encouraging each side to talk about their side of the issue and other techniques that can help the mediator have enough to listen to for the purpose of defining the conflict.
This chapter also outlines the iceberg theory and discusses what elements it contains and how the mediator can help bring about a resolution.
Chapter eleven continues in the role of a mediator and outlines the different critical roles of a mediator. According to the author there are eight crucial roles that the mediator fulfills in the process of conflict resolution and each of those roles is defined, discussed and explored.
Chapter twelve takes the previous two chapters and breaks them down in a step-by-step process so that an even closer view can be obtained of how mediation for the purpose of conflict resolution can be effective. This may be the most functional part of the book because it takes each step from the pre-mediation stage and walks the reader through each step in detail so that the mediator reading the book can form a pattern of steps by which to begin the resolution mediation process.
Chapter thirteen discusses the actual process for resolution. The author talks about the mediator meeting with each side and presenting the other side's ideas and desires. One of the most important things that a mediator can do according to this chapter is to repeat to the sides what they seem to be saying so that the mediator gives an accurate representation to each side about what the other side wants. This chapter provides the actual mediation tools to employ a resolution to whatever problem is being mediated.
If one had to classify this book it would qualify as a professional self-help book. The ideas that are presented in this book would serve a professional mediator with the needed tools that can assist in the process of their jobs. While this book is also a good source of information for the layperson in how to handle and resolve conflict it is geared much more strongly toward the area of professional skills. This is because of the examples that are used throughout the book which are more often than not, professionally based. In addition the steps that are discussed do not have to be used in personal relationships but can be, however anyone who reads and studies them will agree that they are much more suited to professional mediation needs.
Another reason this book would be best if classified as a professional self assistance book is because of the question and answer area. It provides scenarios that are obviously leaning in favor of professional mediators needing ideas for their professional work. One example of domestic violence mediation is not so much a concrete example but an abstract plan. The book provides such a broad-based education on the history of mediation and conflict resolution as well as concrete and applicable ideas about how to handle it when it arises that the author is clearly trying to reach those who work as mediators in a professional venue.
While this book can be used by the individual layman there are chapters that are unnecessary to use by an individual while those same chapters would be useful to a professional.
For these reasons I believe the book is a professionally level book that should be a mandated read for anyone who joins or hopes to join a team or company as a mediator. This can include union representatives, legal professionals, collection agents and those who work in the children services arena. It is a blueprint that focuses on step-by-step explanations and techniques while assuming the reader already possesses the qualities to become a professional mediator.