The name Michael Lang, is synonymous with the concept of Reflective Practice Groups for Mediators. It is accordingly with great pleasure that we announce that this coming November, Michael Lang and his team of reflective practice mediators will be running a six-month online Reflective Practice Group for South African Mediators.
What is a Reflective Practice Group (RPG)?
An RPG is a learning or study group in which members meet together monthly in a virtual roundtable setting to learn from and through the presentation and discussion of puzzling or surprising practice situations.
What is the objective of a Reflective Practice Group (RPG)?
The principal objective of a RPG is to improve the quality and effectiveness of mediator interventions by strengthening existing skills and deepening knowledge. The goal is for participants to become more adept, resourceful and effective mediators.
What happens at the monthly meeting?
Group members are encouraged to bring to the monthly meeting a puzzling mediation practice question, one that arose because of an unexpected success or disappointment during a mediation or an event that took place during a mediation that was unsettling or surprising. The members of the group then have a conversation with the presenter, using open-ended (elicitive) questions to help the presenter clarify the problem, understand its origin, understand its impact on both the mediation and the mediator, and discover new approaches for addressing the specific situation or ones that are similar. Unique to this approach is that Reflective Practice relies on questions rather than statements (as is the nature of the mediation process generally) Advice, opinions, or recommendations are seldom part of the group conversation.
What are the advantages to a mediator being part of a RPG?
As mediators, we work in a bubble. Whether as individuals or co-mediators, our sessions are attended only by the parties, their representatives (where applicable), and ourselves. There are no outside observers who might comment on our work or provide us with feedback. Moreover, with few exceptions, mediators seldom solicit feedback from the parties or their attorneys. As a result, we have little if any basis for understanding whether our efforts were effective and responsive. Settlement rates are of limited benefit. Whether a dispute is resolved has as much or more to do with the attitude of the parties and their counsel as with the mediator’s abilities. The RPG provides an opportunity to explore practice questions, learn from our own and other mediators’ practice experiences, and improve our skills and techniques so that we become more adept and skilled at our craft.
Michael Lang – Pioneer in the field
Michael has worked as a mediator for over 40 years in the fields of family, workplace, organizational and public policy disputes. He is from Florida, USA. Michael created and was the founding director of one of the first graduate programs in conflict resolution in the US at Antioch University in 1992 and served in a similar role at Royal Roads University in Victoria, BC. He is the author of The Guide to Reflective Practice in Conflict Resolution (2019), and co-author of Developing Artistry in Practice (2000). He is a former Editor-in-Chief of the Conflict Resolution Quarterly. Michael is a Founding Director of the Reflective Practice Institute.
Article Credit: Michael Lang and Laurie Amaya