Dienstag, 7. Juni 2011

turning points

dear colleagues and friends,

sometimes it's difficult to recognize that we have reached a turning point.

this time the media marked the decision as "historic" right from the beginning when the news were broadcast for the first time:

Switzerland will say No to nuclear energy.

The waves of Fukushima have reached Berne. The Swiss Federal Government - a cabinet of 7 ministers, 4 women (picture), 3 men - has announced its decision to refrain from this high risk option and to lead the society towards a more sustainable energy policy. This is big change. Some 40% of the Swiss energy consumption are currently fed by nuclear energy. Giving up the nuclear option will mean nothing less than changing our way of life. For the better, I think.

How is this possible?
What happened in the minds of our political leaders? What made them take such a bold decision? Is it opportunism, as the critics say, driven by opinion polls in an election year? Or are they moved by new insights that make them see their responsibility for future generations?

Let us imagine that some kind of inner mediation has happened inside the decision makers. Imagine that they chaired a meeting of their inner team and that all the different voices were heard, the voices of the bold and enthusiastic, the voices of the sceptics, the cautious, the pragmatist, the dreamer, all of them. And that the dialogue happened in such a way that they all listened to each other. And so they reached a turning point.

Turning points are crucial in the mediation process. Friedrich Glasl and Rudi Ballreich distinguish four different turning points in mediation: (see www.konflikt.de)
  • The initial turning point is reached when all the involved parties agree to come to the table and engage in the mediation process.
  • The second turning point happens at the cognitive level when the parties are ready and able to change perspectives. When they realize that there are different ways to read the conflict story.
  • The third turning point is emotional. At this point the parties in conflict express their feelings in an authentic and credible way so that the feelings can be mutually understood and accepted. It is the point of empathy for the other side.
  • And finally there is the intentional turning point. The parties are now willing to go for a win-win solution and to take responsibility for its implementation.
Somebody must lead the process. The role of the mediator is to offer an environment that opens up paths of understanding that lead towards the turning points, to highlight these points, and to encourage the parties on the way forward. It can be done with the inner team as well.

Be the change that you want to see in the world, Gandhi said.
Be the turning point.

Yours in mediation
geri baobab