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Mediation Concept Programme for Teachers and School Psychologists

Stage 1: Mediation Concept Overview

Dates: 12-16 September
Gdynia, Poland

Venue Address: Consulate of Culture
ul, Jana z Kolna 25, 81-225 Gdynia, Polska

Programme Overview and Certification

The programme consists of four stages. After successful completion of each stage participants are awarded a certificate of completion issued by St Mary`s Academy Ltd.

After successful completion of four stages and passing the final exam, participants receive a certificate issued by Mediation Concept and are granted:

Four MCLE Credits Including One Ethics Credit Certified and Approved for Credit by The State Bar of California ­ Provider 14119 Awarded by St Mary`s Academy in collaboration with TWZ Enterprises™

Stage 1: Mediation Concept topics to be covered

History of Mediation

Negotiation or Mediation at School

The psychologist at school

The role of psychological support

General Framework and History of Mediation

The Difference Between Negotiation and Mediation

Contemporary Status of Mediation

Why or Why not? The Advantages and Disadvantages of Mediation

Mediation at school

A negotiator is not a teacher but a teacher is a negotiator.

Case studies

Classes start at 9:00 and finish at 18:30 each day of the programme with a lunch break from 12:00 to 13:30

Course fee: 100 GBP

Please send you applications to: office@st-marys.academy

Procedure for enrolment

If accepted, you will be provided with an official confirmation letter of programme participation issued by St Mary’s Academy’s secretary.

Mediation

A negotiator is not a teacher

Piotr Jednaszewski PhD, EdD

St Mary`s Academy Ltd, Falkirk

Abstract

The article discusses the role of negotiations and building relations from the perspective of our human nature. The education we gain at schools and universities makes us think that we should be more focused on educating people than building relations. The article points out why negotiators are not teachers. As a further point, we have a tendency to look at the negotiations from the point of view of our own expectations whereas negotiations are a process of building relations and the final result can be different than the one that was expected before coming to the negotiation table. However, a different final result does not necessarily mean disappointment. It can be more fruitful and beneficial for all participants if this result is based on mutual understanding and stems from a cooperative approach.

Key words: negotiations, building relations,

Introduction

Negotiations are about making a deal, not showing disapproval, criticism or even teaching the other side how to behave. Someone once said, “If we could forget about teaching others and start listening to them, our lives would be much easier”. We have a tendency to believe that other people think the same way as we do. If we aim for a healthy lifestyle then we believe that other people do the same. In a similar vein, if we ruin our health we might believe that it is normal for other people too (Levin, 2012, p.89). Nobody likes being confronted with their weaknesses (Goulding, 2013, p.56). Therefore, even if we think differently to people on the other side of the table, we must be careful in expressing our views, and avoid sounding patronizing or teacher-like. Everyone likes to use critical thinking but nobody likes being surrounded by critical thinkers (Veugelers, 2011, p. 97).

Four false perceptions of reality

  • Teachers think they are in charge of the class and negotiators think that they are in charge of the negotiation process. When a teacher enters the classroom he or she thinks that they can do anything and the same applies to many negotiators. Reality seems to be different. Teachers have their directors, who can criticize even the best lessons, parents who can criticize the methods of teaching, and children who can say that the teacher is too strict. Similarly, the negotiator can be replaced by the company supervisory board. His or her director may disapprove of the adopted strategy of negotiations and people on the other side of the table may not accept the style of those negotiations. The situation outlined here looks quite drastic but it is presented to illustrate that negotiations are more about building relations and then making a deal than the opposite. As countries cooperate with each other thanks to the welter of international relations, we are connected to other people through the complex network of personal, business and professional relationships (Salacuse, 2013, p.45). Teachers who are able to build positive relationships with their students are perceived to be supportive. Students who report their school environment as caring and supportive are more likely to engage in learning and get better results (Roffey, 2011, p. 63).
  • Negotiators are not like average white-collar workers. Some people who prepare for negotiations cannot understand why they are easily irritated, cannot sleep and perhaps become impatient in personal contacts. A negotiator`s job seems to be the same as other colleagues from the same company and this is a false perception of reality. A negotiatornot only has to be concerned about the person sitting across the table but must also constantly think about the organizations under them and bureaucracies that they both represent (Salacuse, 2015, p. 127). Negotiators are constantly under stress because regardless of the position in a company, they feel responsible for the output of their talks. The stress may also come because of the lack of security. There are many negotiators who ask themselves the following questions:

What is going to happen if the negotiations do not work?

How much am I going to lose?

How can I be convincing?

And dozens of other questions which other white-collar workers do not need to think about.

  • Everyone thinks that you can be replaced at the negotiation table.

With all respect to the great entrepreneurs and their managerial skills, many people who are the own companies think they know everything best. There are many examples of chief accountants who have tried to educate their bosses to protect the financial stability of company they were working for, advised their bosses on the negotiations and were finally fired because the boss thought differently and didn`t like to be taught by a younger person or someone in a lower company position. There are also people who have never negotiated any contracts but are usually the first to express their criticism and disappointment at the outcome of your negotiations. Therefore, it is good to discuss different problems with your company people, learn what they think and be ready for situations like the above..

  • Creative solutions will be rewarded. They are used to solve disputes, break deadlocks in negotiations, generate goodwill and so on. Some negotiators think that their great ideas should be rewarded whereas their bosses and colleagues think it is a job of the negotiator to make a good deal. Crudely speaking, negotiators are expected to bring the right profit like other people from the company. Similarly, some teachers think that their great ideas should be noticed and appreciated, whereas the school director and parents expect good marks at the end of the semester.

False perception of relations

We learn at school that bad behaviour should be punished. Consequently, if we disapprove of someone’s behavior we may end the relationship. Our reaction to an unwanted situation reflects the norms of our society. These social ‘laws’ deal with broken relationships, promises, trust, privacy and other offences which are socially unacceptable (Youngs, 2014, p.15). The poisoning of Sergei Skripal the former Russian intelligence officer led to tit for tat diplomatic expulsions. The USA expelled 60 Russian diplomats and Russia expelled the same number of Americans. The UK expelled 23 Russians and Russia expelled 73 British diplomats. In total there were 342 diplomats expelled (Aljazeera, 03.04.2018). Then on 04.04.2018 the Daily Mail online newspaper issued an article under the headline, “May faces questions from allies after Porton Down lab admits it can`t prove Novichok used in Salisbury was made in Russia, and Putin demands an apology”. The above example clearly illustrates how difficult it is to work on relationships if certain steps are taken to show disapproval. In recent history it has been relatively common for governments to withdraw their ambassadors from the other countries to show their disapproval. Correspondingly, if we do not accept someone`s behaviour or attitude and we presume that their actions are, or can be, harmful we aim to show the person that we do not want to deal with him or her, unless their attitude and behaviour changes. We act like a teacher at school who wants to punish the students for not obeying the rules. Conversely, if we approve of someone actions we are keen on maintaining the relationship.

It is possible to ask why so many diplomats were expelled by the NATO countries. In an way analogous to a teacher punishing a student, the NATO countries wanted to send a powerful signal to Russia of international disapproval. However, ending relations as a form of teaching or educational methodology to say that we disapprove of someone`s actions is rarely a good solution. It will be much harder to solve future problems if relations are broken especially in international politics where economic, political, social areas are interrelated and interconnected. One of the best illustrations of business co-operation is the relationship between China and Japan. In spite of past transgressions and current political issues, both countries communicate and cooperate on different business and technological levels. Likewise, Vietnam cooperates with the US and China develops business and technological cooperation with Taiwan.  It means that circumstances motivate us to maintain relationships on the corporate or state level even if we disapprove of the other side’s policy.

Many corporations work on the basis of “the carrot and the stick”, where the carrot consists of motivational and ethical incentives and the stick is legal compliance and potential disciplinary actions (Weiss, 2008, p. 168). However, the unconscious message hidden behind the reward and punishment method is that one is dealing with people of limited intelligence who can easily be manipulated and controlled. Similarly, some teachers and parents may assume that the only way to deal with their children is through reward and punishment. This type of approach is not only criticised by numerous authors but it also resembles the bribe and punishment method (Flora, 2004, p.27). The concept of the carrot and the stick are deeply coded in our minds and we tend to use them like our parents or teachers. Hence, we may come to the conclusion that good relationships are possible when we and our business partners have the same values, common ideas and operate on the same wavelength. If we compare building relationships with building houses we can say that it is much easier to build a house on a sandy beach than on a hard rock. The biblical parable (Matthew 7: 24-27) about the wise and the foolish Builders, states the opposite:

24 “Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock. 25 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.26 But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand. 27 The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash.” (Stott, 2015).

Building a house on a rock can be more rewarding than building a house on the sand. However, it needs more time and effort. The same goes for building relationships. The ones which are easily established may not be as strong as those which need more diligence and effort.

Another problem that we can run into is that we have been taught to avoid conflicts. Even if we can spot some differences we try to accept them, not see them or avoid talking about them. Therefore, we feel discomfort in conflict situations. To illustrate, a charity organisation ran a summer camp for students. The director of the project decided to attempt to raise some money and talked to the couple of sponsors, who had been always helpful in the past. However, he had to participate in the annual conference and left the project to his deputy for a week. When the sponsors appeared at the charity, they were warmly welcome by the deputy and it seemed that there was no problem with the sponsorship.  They were introduced to the project and the final part was to send them the contract and details to be finalized the after the meeting. However, a few days passed and nothing arrived. The sponsors started wondering why they were not being treated seriously and one of them withdrew. The charity director, who was on the conference, was absolutely convinced that everything was going well and nobody wanted to disturb him, but the charity sponsors were curious as to why there had not been single word from the charity deputy, who should have sent an apology and excuse for the delay, at the very least. When the charity director returned to work after a week, he got the information from the deputy that there had been a great meeting with the sponsors who were expecting the contracts. On the same day, the charity director got a letter of complaint from one of the sponsors, asking why people who wanted to sponsor the summer camp had to wait for the contracts and programme description. The situation was explained, the sponsors were apologised to and the deputy director was reprimanded. The situation could have finished less well. The sponsors might have resigned as a result of of being neglected and the deputy might have lost his job. All this because of the emotions that resulted from someone`s incompetence and the lack of communication. All of these factors might have destroyed the relations that had been built up with the sponsors over many years. The charity director called every sponsor and expressed his apologies saying how much he appreciated their support to amend this situation.

We expect nice relations.

Regardless of the negotiations, whether we negotiate with someone we know well, a business partner or with the North Korean government, we expect to have a negotiating relationship which will allow us to establish positive feelings. If we do not have such feelings we can begin being to dread the next meeting. It can be compared to a relationship between a teacher and a student, and sub-consciously we can adopt different roles. If a person is older and sounds more authoritative, we may start feeling like a student being examined by a teacher.On the other hand, if we are well prepared for the negotiations and feel the power of our position, we might have a tendency to start acting like a teacher, who always judges what is good and what is bad. This is why some students say that if you are able to please the teacher then you don`t need to learn much and you can get a good score. Following that train of thought, some negotiators may say that if we are able to please the other side, they should be nice and cooperative. This type of thinking characterizes soft negotiators. Soft negotiators appear open and friendly and give generous concessions (Falcao, 2012), but life is not a classroom. We are neither students nor teachers, and soft negotiators cannot achieve what they really want.

Contrasting this with o a teacher, who may not accept students` behaviour and punish them with extra homework if they do not accept their behaviour, we may stop talking to a person. However if we need to talk with this “trouble maker” we may find it more difficult because of their past transgressions.

That is why, when we teach students negotiations, we need to make them aware of meeting different characters and help them to acquire the ability to deal with different people, approaches and opinions above taking things personally.

The balance between emotions and common sense.

Emotions are important and we cannot live without them. However, it is hard to achieve smooth cooperation when emotions surpass common sense.

On the other hand, logical thinking and reasoning are not always sufficient to build relationships and solve problems. We need the mind to be inspired by emotions and emotions to be controlled by the mind. Such a balance leads to efficient rationalism. There are five guidelines to building a good relationship with the other person during business talks.  These are:

  1. Understanding – what does the other party really need? Why? What is the honest solution from his/her perspective? Why does he / she think it is an honest solution? The more understanding there is the better chance there is to find common ground.
  2. Good communication – with more open communication the attitude of parties become less suspicious and the communication can lead to a discussion on broader terms than planned at the beginning.
  3. Credibility – this is the core of negotiation process. The more sincere and trustworthy we sound the greater chance we have to reach the right agreement. Credibility is interrelated with qualities like being transparent and clear, building an atmosphere of trust and understanding (Fisher, 1998).
  4. Persuasion seems to be the best form of leverage. The devil is in the detail. Some contracts look transparent at first glance, but during the course of negotiations, it comes out that some points are not clear, presumably the competitors offered a better price for some services and there are some areas that need to be clarified and made more specific. Therefore, negotiating parties can be more interested in the direct results of every single transaction and simple negotiations than the long-term effect and a complicated contract. Many contracts have not come to force because of their complexity and parties who tried to protect themselves from any losses if anything went wrong. Aiming to secure the contract and further cooperation, parties can use different methods other than persuasion to apply leverage. An example of this is an agent co-operating with a travel agency. He or she comes to the agency and negotiates the prices for a high number of tourists that he or she has provided and then tries to lower the promised numbers and keep the same price, saying that they believe the preliminary numbers are likely to happen but he would not like to be restricted by some contractual barriers. In this way the agent exerts pressure, promising lucrative business to the travel agency and at the same moment tries to lower the price as much as possible. If the travel agent is not ready for such a scenario and is afraid of losing some clients, then the agent`s leverage is successful. However, it doesn`t mean that the travel agent is going to work with someone who uses tricks and ploys in the future. Therefore, the better persuasion and clarification are, the lower probability of unfavorable outcome for both parties. Lowering leverage creates opportunities for better cooperation, mutual respect and cements business relationships.
  5. Mutual acceptance – to feel accepted is a basic psychological need for human beings. Everyone wants to be recognized and appreciated. Everyone also has the right to hold a different opinion.

One of the mistakes we make is that we behave like a teacher who believes that he needs to approve of someone`s actions to maintain a good relationship with his student. Otherwise, a student who is a troublemaker has to be punished and treated differently to others in the class until he or she improves their behaviour. Therefore, we may have the tendency to connect the idea of maintaining relationships with the idea of having the same values. If someone has different values we may have a false perception of their personality because of our prejudices and it can influence our relationship. However, we do not need to have the same values as our business partners nor do we need to approve of their actions if we do business with them. We need to agree on the principles and have open communication and understanding. Otherwise there would be no trade or communication among the countries with democratic values and those where dictators are in power. There would be no communication between parents and children. It seems to be a false concept that we need to approve of someone`s actions to maintain relationships and the same refers to having common values. The art of negotiation is based on separating people and the process of building relationships from the subject of negotiations. Dawna Jones the author of Decision Making for Dummies advises being hard on the problem and soft on the people. She says that if we are able to replace blame and judgement with curiosity, then we will increase our chances of discovering and resolving real issues and in the same manner we will manage to improve our working relationships (Jones, 2014, p. 248).

Understanding the word “relationship”

It is very easy to make a mistake associating a good relationship we have with the goals we aim to achieve. The following seven examples illustrate different meanings of the word relationship.

  1. Someone could say: “I have a good relationship with the boss. I am going to ask him for a rise”
  2. “The relationship between the USA and China is getting worse. Just look at the trade deficit”.
  3. Teachers want to build a good rapport with their students to understand their learning problems better and to help them to achieve good results.
  4. Parents have a very close relationship with their children.
  5. Jane said: “I cannot keep any relationship with them, because they are not loyal”
  6. Britain’s relationship with Russia worsened and they withdrew diplomats.
  7. Margaret suggested them to buy a dog, to improve their family relationship.

All of the above examples consist of two elements. The first is the individual understanding of the word relationship and the power attached to this word. The second one is the expected result, coded into the action undertaken.

Therefore, it can be said that every situation consists of two elements:

  • The process in which we are involved
  • Expected results

Those two elements are separate but both influence one another. It is like school. The way the programme is taught influences the knowledge of the students. If we want to improve the results we must improve the process. Therefore, the methodology of teaching can be the same regardless of the subject.

To build good relationships we must concentrate on good processes, not on the results. Good processes should lead us to good results. Every party involved has an influence on the relationhip but if we are able to work on it, then we are able to achieve better results. It is like the director of production who is responsible for a group of workers. Both the director and his team can think about different solutions to improve production. If there is a good atmosphere in the workplace and the information flows, then certain changes can be implemented and the results of work will improve.

If we do not separate the process of building and maintaining relationships from the aims we want to achieve then we will be focused on the aims at every meeting and can lose the opportunity to build good relationships by not listening to the real needs of the other party. It is a bit like a teacher who expects his students to have good marks at the final exam and overloads them with tests and extra material to work on, but does not think that his students work under high pressure and do not understand some parts of the material. Finally, the teacher is frustrated with the results of his group, and students dislike their ambitious teacher.

We have a tendency to focus on the aims not on the methods of achieving them. Our negotiation process can be compared to ordering food in a restaurant. We think about a meal which is going to be served not the process including the cooks and the waiters.

If we are able to control building and maintaining relationships then it should be easier for us to achieve the expected results.

References

Aljazeera (03.04.2018). Skirpal case diplomatic expulsion in numbers.

Falcao, H. (2012). Value Negotiations: How to Finally Get the Win-Win Right, FT Press.`

Fisher, M. (1998). Teaching Negotiation and Business Resolution in Colleges of Business: The State of the Practice, Issues: 1-4

Flora, S. (2004). The Power of Reinforcement: Lacan, Feminisms, and Queer Theory. SUNY Press.

Goulding, M. (2013). Learning to Teach Mathematics, Second Edition, Routledge.

Jones, D. (2014). Decision Making for Dummies, John Wiley & Sons.

Levin, R. (2012). Teaching Evidence-Based Practice in Nursing: Second Edition, Springer Publishing Company.

Roffey, S. (2011). Positive Relationships: Evidence Based Practice Across the World, Springer Science and Business Media.

Salacuse, J. (2013). Negotiating Life: Secrets to Everyday Diplomacy and Deal Making, Springer.

Salacuse, J. (2015). The Global Negotiator: Making, Managing and Mending Deals Around the World in the Twenty-First Century, St. Martin`s Press.

Stott, J. (2015). Sermon on the Mount, SPCK.

Veugelers, W. (2011). Education and Humanism: Linking Autonomy and Humanity, Springer Science and Business Media.

Weiss, J. (2008). Business Ethics: A Stakeholder and Issues Management Approach, Cengage Learning.

Youngs, R. (2014). English, French and German Comparative Law, Routledge.