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Recommended Books for Family Mediators

A recent e-mail thread between mediators on the MCFM Board discussed the importance of sharing our favorite mediation-related books with our fellow family mediators. To that end, we are inviting you to comment on this post with a recommendation of your favorite book related to mediation or conflict resolution.  John Fiske  graciously agreed to start us off with a poem and three recommendations:

I hope these blurbs are good for your blog
And help us begin a real dialogue   
To find the right book by hook or by crook
To strengthen your neutral and wise outlook.

1. A Guide to Divorce Mediation, Gary Friedman, Workman Publishing (1993). The book opens with a quote from Hillel: "If I am not for myself, who is for me? And being for myself alone, what am I?" This focus on the Self is a foundation on which I believe all agreements should be built. His book describes how he became a mediator in 1979 in California following a process similar to mine in Massachusetts at the same time. Part Two is unique: 12 actual mediations are defined, complete with the dialogue and explanations of why the mediator did what he did and why it worked or did not. For example, in "Would I Lie to You?" he demonstrates practical strategies for addressing and dismantling deceit, as he puts it. Other chapters will also ring true with mediators: "Tell Me What To Do," "If I'm not Yours, Who Am I?" present couples we often encounter who present archetypal dilemmas and here we can read what he said to whom and when and why and the result. It's the next best thing to being in the room with him, and he is very good at mediating. A helpful guide, who helps you find your own path.

2. The Divorce Remedy, The Proven 7 Step Program for Saving Your Marriage, Michele Weiner Davis, Simon and Schuster (2001).. This book and its predecessor helped me to establish marital mediation for couples who wanted to stay married on new and different terms. She is the only author I have found who tells people to know what they want and to say what they want. This point is as applicable in all human relationships, including divorce and marriage. She also points out that you can only control yourself, and when you decide to change some aspect of yourself you automatically change the relationship with your spouse. She says, "It takes one to tango." Suppose you take out the garbage without being asked (!) for the first time in three years: you will change your relationship. Other suggestions: stop going down cheeseless tunnels (i.e. dead ends) and keep positive changes going. She writes well and is very practical.

3. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In, Roger Fisher and William Ury, Houghton Mifflin (1981) and subsequent versions. The basic negotiation book, based on principles including focusing on interests and not positions. Ask your clients "Why?" and listen. They will tell you their concerns, their fears, what is most important to them. That will help you generate options with them, and you can use the law to help establish some objective criteria. The first principle of "separating the people from the problem" seems like Harvard Obtuseness until you carefully read the chapter which encourages you to try to understand the point of view of another person. For a mediator who wants to separate people from problem, stand up and write the problem on a flip chart and stand there with them looking at the problem. They include lots of examples and stories, and help or reassure you as you mediate seemingly unresolvable questions.

Please share your book recommendations in the comments section below:



Looking forward to seeing

Looking forward to seeing everyone's recommendations and adding them to my "to read" list. 


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