The Myth of the Triune Brain

  The brain is often described as divided into three parts: the “reptilian brain” that controls instincts, the “limbic system” that controls emotions, and the neocortex that controls rational thought. The classic view is that rational thought of the neocortex controls the “lower” reptilian and emotional brains. Currently neuroscientists think of the brain as a [Read more..]

How to Handle Strong Emotions

Mediators face strong emotions all the time. We can view these emotions as the most challenging part of the job or see them as a window into the conflict. Neuroscience can help us cope with the challenges and take advantage of the opportunities. We have discussed the inherent problems in venting during mediation in a prior [Read more..]

Early Caucus: Dealing with Stress in Mediation

Traditional facilitative mediation has long been structured as: 1) Joint session, 2) Caucus, 3) Joint session (with additional rounds as necessary). This structure is often found in community mediation settings and was once common in commercial mediation. In recent years, commercial mediation often skips the opening joint session and frequently is conducted entirely in caucus. This change [Read more..]

The Venting Myth

Mediation training has long viewed venting anger as a useful tool for restoring a positive psychological state. This practice has been handed down as received wisdom through several generations of mediation trainers, practitioners, and theorists. Beware, this venting myth can be dangerous Venting negative emotions triggers the physiologic stress response by increasing the level of the [Read more..]

Ten Best Practices for Mediators Derived from Neuroscience: Sex and Culture Differences (#9-10)

Biologic differences between men and women result in different reactions to conflict. Normally, men outperform women in seeing a situation from another perspective, but under stress, women outperform men. Culture also influences behavior during conflict.       9. Consider the effects of testosterone levels. Men are subject to daily cycles of testosterone, highest in [Read more..]

Ten Best Practices for Mediators Derived from Neuroscience: Managing Emotions (#6-8)

Strong emotions are common in mediation. Parties often arrive at the session full of resentment and joint sessions can provoke anger, disappointment, or embarrassment. Ignoring strong emotions is risky as it is trigger for the physiologic stress response.     6.Encourage parties to name their emotions rather than labeling them. Mediation training often suggests ways [Read more..]