Creating a Sense of
Peace and Mindfulness Through Core Values
Peacemakers attempt to create a sense of personal peace and
mindfulness and harness their core values and strongest personal
attributes. Over twenty-five years ago, Leonard Riskin wrote his
groundbreaking book on ADR and lawyers. While he has made
many other important contributions to our field, perhaps his most
far-reaching hallmark is his work on mindfulness. He has written
and trained mediators and lawyers worldwide on the importance
of being personally authentic and congruent in order to model
transparency and caring to clients and colleagues.
Another of our field's most inspirational thinkers, Nan Waller
Burnett, hails from the mental health field. Her groundbreaking
book, Calm in the Face of the Storm, written by a peacemaker for
other peacemakers, devotes each of its 365 chapters to highlighting
a peacemaking value, how to better understand that value, and
how to apply that value in our work.
Looking at these values and creating a peacemaking signature
are concrete steps to determine which core values and personal
attributes best fit your sense of mediation work.
Examples of Use of Key Core Values:
Empowerment — People should have control over their own
destiny and reduce their dependence on professionals, courts, and
Cooperation — People work more effectively and are more
satisfied when they are working together.
Fairness — People should get a fair shake out of life and that
human action and institutions should be designed with fairness
as an outcome.
Satisfaction — While the customer may not always be right,
what clients say and feel about their satisfaction is important in
evaluating professional service.
Options — People do better with choice. Do you take the time
and try to make sure that you and those around have choices,
from what to have for breakfast to how to obtain and finance
Creativity — The process of carving out time and devoting energy
to create new ideas and opportunities is a value in and of itself.
Hope — Having a belief in the possible and believing it is
important to share that hope with others who are paralyzed with
fear and pessimism.
Reconciliation — Actively seek out to apologize to others or to
accept a heartfelt apology from someone who has hurt you or
someone you care for.
Transformation — Believing that you and others can change for
the better. In the divorcing context, such transformation can be
facilitated and accelerated by the way their divorce is resolved.
Rational Problem Solving — People can actually find solutions
through thinking through and talking about difficult issues.
Peacemaking — Peace and acting in a peaceful way toward those
in pain and conflict are values in themselves to which you would
devote time and energy.
Repairing Lives and Relationships
Indira Gandhi, former Prime Minister of India, once said: "You
cannot shake hands with a clenched fist.” Peacemaking means
taking concrete, proactive steps to help parties unclench their fists,
improve their relationships and prevent conflict.
No one is born as a party to a mediation. Being a mediation
participant is not within our basic DNA or generally even
taught in childhood. People need to learn how to be their "best
selves" as mediation participants, and mediators need to teach
them. We need to provide educational resources, supportive
professionals, and agreement-readiness design. These peacemaker
roles go beyond sitting down with the parties and trying to help
facilitate an agreement. These roles require strategic planning
and a commitment to carve out time and space to make the fist-unclenching process work.
Perhaps the greatest difference peacemakers can make is by
adding conflict prevention into their mediation work. When
people enter a formal mediation process, there has already been
a failure because a dispute (informal, claim, or actual law suit)
has ripened to the point that requires a mediator’s intervention.
Just as doctors try to prevent recurrence of disease and to
maximize future medical health when treating the symptoms of
illness or disease, I believe it is our duty and opportunity to help
mediation participants minimize future recurrence of conflict
and maximize harmony in their lives. We can do that using tools
such as dispute resolution clauses in contracts between the parties;
agreement-implementation calendars to remind parties about
what they have agreed to (and find out if additional facilitation
is necessary); and conflict-wellness checkups (for examples, see
We often suggest to the parties that we serve that they consider the
“next steps” they will take to implement their agreement. A pledge to
take "next steps," especially when they are specific and concrete, is an
essential key to making key changes. Here are some next steps that
can be taken to transform your mediation work into peacemaking:
1. Make peacemaking your life’s work. Talk about it, study it,
create a personal mission statement. Create a career plan and
have a vision of your role in the field—five, ten, twenty and
thirty years from now.
2. Perform a peacemaker-impact study in the work you do.
Test every projected plan to gain skills, help your clients,
or build your practice by how such plan is consistent with
3. Add new roles or services within your current job or practice
to enhance peacemaking. For example, if you are doing
conciliation work within your organization, think about how
to educate members of your organization about peacemaking
or consider developing a coaching program to help individuals
going through disputes within your organization or in their
4. Become a preventive conflict-wellness thinker and provider.
5. Constantly reflect on your own professional behavior and
monitor your humility and openness to new approaches.
6. Embrace others through collaboration and implementation of