Review by Natarajan Devaraj
Last year, while mediating a challenging situation, I read the book My Stories of Conflict: A Kaleidoscope of Theories, Methods, and Personal Experiences by Marc Leu and Annie Meisl, which presented how different cultures viewed aspects like time, rules, and relationships differently. In my next session, I gave my clients an extract from this book to help them understand what their differences may be. Surprisingly, this was an eye-opener for them; they became aware that cultural misunderstanding was the root cause of their conflict, and I was able to guide them to appreciate each other’s perspectives better. The principles within helped me understand that what I was missing in my mediation sessions – my clients’ cultural background was adding to the complexity.
Leu and Meisl share their experience from many years in mediation while encouraging us to hold a “mental kaleidoscope to our eye, to explore what we see with genuine curiosity, and to learn from the infinity of colors and patterns each new canvas has to offer.” The step-by-step process described in this book can benefit mediators and be a reference for alternative ideas and tools during mediation. I loved that the book gives good weightage to real examples and sample mediation conversations in addition to process and theory through plain language and helpful, interesting analogies.
Natarajan Devaraj completed the 40-hour basic mediation and conflict resolution training, Working Creatively with Conflict, offered virtually by the Center for Understanding in Conflict (CUC) in November 2020. Combined with the firm foundation of the Understanding-Based Model laid by the CUC, mentoring from Marc Leu, and the principles in his book, Natarajan now offers mediation services to SAP employees on behalf of the SAP Global Ombuds Office.