10 Dispute Resolution Questions asked by a Rainbow Mediator

picture of rainbow in HawaiiThere are many ways to resolve disputes.  Do a quick global tour of the dispute resolution landscape, and you’ll see just how many.  It’s as if there is a rainbow of options.  The rainbow mediator acknowledges the diverse approaches to resolution, and incorporates key elements into her/his practice.  Kind of a think global, act local.

The dispute resolution spectrum

Moving beyond our western interest-based negotiation ways, Japan, Indonesia, China, Afghanistan, Philippines, Arab nations, Hawaii, Latin America, indigenous cultures everywhere each place deals with conflict in a different way.  Each offers unique elements to the resolution mix. The rainbow mediator works with it all.

Ten questions

Knowing how important a good question is, here are ten a rainbow mediator continually asks; of themselves, and others, as they go about their mediation business:


  1. What’s appropriate? Along the continuum of dispute resolution approaches, what’s appropriate to this specific situation in front of me? self-help, mediation, adjudication… facilitation, evaluation, restoration, transformation…
  2. Do I bring kizuki? A Japanese term, kizuki is about being aware of what’s going on in the room, understanding the flows and tensions between people, a cousin of being in the moment.
  3. Is there space to make it happen? How do you break impasse? Maybe a break for a Chinese tea ceremony would help relationships first, resolution second
  4. Does this work for you? The individual; does it serve your interests?
  5. Will the community be served? Dispute resolution is not just about individuals, it’s about restoring and honoring community; e.g., negotiation/mediaton tradition in the Arab world, a Nisgaa (British Columbia First Nations people) potlatch
  6. Is it good karma? Pay it forward in Bali, settlement options build on doing good, not just who owes what
  7. Am I being a good neighbour? There is more to mediation than professionals, Chinese mediators work in neighbourhoods and communities
  8. What’s stopping us? From bringing everyone together to talk about it; e.g, as in a Maori restorative conference, a Filipino corporate/community reconciliation, or parties separated by distance, or
  9. Does this feel right? Rely on your intuition, your right (brain) hemisphere its where peace resides, seek spiritual resolution, too, as with the Hooponopono of Hawaii
  10. Being humble? Humility; maybe the most important attribute of any mediator, especially if learning is what you want to do


I think of the above questions, on a basic level, as respecting both our global diversity, and our shared values.  Answers vary.


What’s your rainbow question?

Photo credit: randysonofrobert on flickr

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