Trick or Treat: The Ethics of Mediator Manipulation
Dispute Resolution Magazine (American Bar Association), Vol. 18, p. 18, Fall 2010
5 Pages Posted: 9 Sep 2011
Date Written: September 9, 2011
Much of what good mediators do can be characterized as “helpful interventions” that assist the parties towards legitimate goals such as a better understanding, a platform for developing options, and (where the parties choose) an agreement or settlement. However, all such “helpful interventions” are inevitably "manipulative," in the sense that the mediator is, often unilaterally, making “moves” with profound impact on the parties’ bargaining. To evaluate the ethics of any individual move, the authors propose asking two questions: 1) does the move further or help a legitimate party or process goal that advances party self-determination in decision-making; and 2) is the move manipulative in such a way that it disadvantages one side or undermines the integrity of the mediator or the mediation process. The more “secret” or hidden the intervention, the more problematic it becomes.
Keywords: mediation, ethics, justice, confidentiality, professional conduct, self-determination, neutrality
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