I had the opportunity to hear Joseph ‘Josh’ Stulberg speak at a mediation conference that I was also speaking at this spring. I purchased “The Middle Voice: Mediating Conflict Successfully” by Joseph B. Stulberg and Lela P. Love at the conference, and now after reading it, am glad that I did. It is a very good book on the basic mediation process and the skills needed to mediation conflict and find resolution. The book is appropriate for those who mediate professionally or for community dispute centers, as well as for those who have to mediation conflict in work, family, or community settings.
The first couple of chapters address a few basics regarding conflict, such as who can use mediation skills, intervener models, and patterns of conflict. Chapter four gets into particulars regarding being a mediator and what it entails.
Next come the chapters that actually walk the reader through the mediation process. Chapter five looks at things a mediator should do before the mediation even starts. This chapter address looking at the parties, resources, issues, options for process, rules of behavior, time frame, and outcomes in relation to even setting a mediation session date.
Part two of the book, starting with chapter six, covers what the authors call BADGER. This is the model they use to describe the components of the mediator’s role during the process. The six components are: Begin the discussions, Accumulate information, Develop the discussion strategy, Generate movement, Elect separate sessions, and Reach closure. Each of these components is described very well in the separate chapters, and there are ample examples to help the reader understand, as well as practice tips to assist the mediator with these phases of mediation.
Part three of the book focuses on lessons from experience with a chapter on practical challenges and ethical dilemmas and a short conclusion. The book also contains some recommended reading and Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators.
I really liked the book. It is not as long as some of my mediation texts, but I found it to be easy to read and practical. It is a good for anyone wanting to study the mediation process and become a better mediator. I’d have liked to have seen the lessons from experience portion of the book be a bit longer and more in depth, but the questions and answers that were presented were good advice and make you think about important aspect of mediation that you may face when trying to be the middle voice of conflict.
It’s a concise guide to mediation that covers the basics, but as I teach my students, basics are the most important skills to master, because they are what everything else is built upon. Obviously, people new to mediation will gain more from this book than experienced mediators, but I still think it is good for those of us with experience to read basic texts as well. I found it a good resource for some of the mediation teaching I do.
Without hesitation, I recommend this book to anyone who wants to better understand the mediation process and sharpen their mediation skills.