Giraffe Mediation

The Third Presence - NVC Based Mediation Training

Are you a parent or a teacher who may not recognize that you are facilitating mediation and negotiation daily? Are you interested in developing Compassionate Communication & Conflict Resolution Skills to deepen your presence as mediator? Are you working with groups and want to learn about Restorative Justice?

This training supports learning and skills development such as:

  • Facilitating people in conflict feeling heard by each other and connected to shared humanity
  • Emphatically connecting to others’ experience in challenging conflict situations
  • Translating judgments into needs language with greater ease and naturalness
  • Returning to presence and connection in the midst of the intensity of conflict
  • Expressing your needs after self-connecting, and supporting others in making clear requests and finding collaborative solutions

The training develops abilities in the various conflict contexts:

  •  Effectively mediating as a “third side” professionally or in your role at work
  • Lending your skills informally to support the people in your life with their conflict
  • Peacefully resolving conflicts you are having with others
  • Transforming worrying voices in your own head
  • Applying mediation skills to conflict coaching and working with groups

Our training is based on two outstanding colleagues' work: John Kinyon and Ike Lasater.
This approach to mediation focuses on connection before outcome and the outcome emerging out of the connection. The mediator facilitates a conversation in which each party can be heard to their satisfaction, both understanding each other’s individual experience, and connecting with their universal human experience through the language of needs. The goal is to move from the thinking that creates conflict to connection based understanding and universal needs. From this place, solutions arise out of compassion and the desire to contribute to one another’s well being. Consistently, when people connect with each other in this way, they begin a collaborative search for solutions that work for everyone.


Mediation Process Overview

I. Intentions of Giraffe Mediation
1. Connection with life within us and others; individual and universal human experience
2. Acting from compassion – giving/receiving, willingness, interdependence, collaboration
II. What creates conflict? Thinking vs. Presence (moralistic judgment and demand language)
III. Four Mediation Contexts
1. Internal: When there is a conflict between different aspects of ourselves.
2. Self-Other/Interpersonal: When you are a party in the conflict.
3. Informal: Entering a conflict and mediating before you have been asked to do so.
4. Formal: When you are asked by the parties to help them resolve their dispute.
IV. Two Phases & Five Steps of Giraffe Mediation
Phase I – Connection – understanding and universal needs
1. Empathize with person A and surface their need(s).
2. Ask party B to reflect party A’s need(s).
3. Empathize with person B and surface their need(s).
4. Ask party A to reflect the party B’s need(s).
Phase II – Requests -- strategies, solutions, agreements
5. After both parties connected to each other’s needs, support clear “doable” requests and
agreements. Go back to 1-4 if requests lead to a “triggering” of further reactions and conflict.
V. Nine Mediator Skills/Choices
1. Empathy (self & other) – presence, understanding/meaning, and need language/deepening.
2. Requesting Reflection (and feelings) -- asking each party to reflect back each other’s needs.
3. “Pulling by the ears” – re-requesting when the person hasn’t reflected the other’s needs
4. Emergency 1st Aid Empathy when person is in too much pain to reflect back other’s needs.
5. Tracking where you are in the process and the needs that have been expressed.
6. Interrupting with the intention to connect with the speaker’s inner experience vs. judgments.
7. Self-Empathy for the mediator.
8. Self-Expression by the mediator.
9. Solution Requests -- present, positive, action language, to get all needs met compassionately.
VI. Elements of empathy: being fully with a person’s experience (following vs. leading)
“Every judgment is a tragic expression of an unmet need” – Marshall Rosenberg
1. Presence – resting attention on the speaker, letting go of thinking and efforts
2. Understanding/Meaning – reflecting back in a way that the person feels heard, and understood,  as they would like about their reality and experience
3. Need Language (translation) & Deepening – connecting thoughts, feelings, wants to needs; linger and savor needs
VII. Dialing the difficulty of the three chair mediation role plays
A. Level I
1. Mediator does just steps 1 & 3 (empathy with A, empathy with B)
2. Requests to disputants: Strength of “jackal”; don’t cross talk
B. Level II
1. Mediator does steps 1-4 (empathy and requesting reflection with A & B)
2. Requests to disputants – Strength of “jackal”; reflect other party’s needs, even
if don’t feel like it
C. Level III
1. Mediator does steps 1-4
2. Requests to disputants – Strength of “jackal”; reflect needs only if feel like it
3. Exercise mediator skills of “pulling by the ears”, emergency first aid empathy,
and tracking by disputants reflecting thoughts instead of needs, expressing
instead of reflecting, and getting “triggered” into too much reaction to
empathize with other
4. Disputants talk in a way for mediator to practice interrupting for connection
5. Disputants cross talking
VIII. Setting up the role plays
1. Create a situation – real or made up, and what context?
2. Dial the difficulty level
3. Requests to coach
4. Requests to disputants and observers give feedback
5. Mediator needing self-empathy before starting role play?
IX. Practicing step 5, getting to the “request” phase
1. In steps 1-4, disputants play roles with as much NVC ability as possible
2. In step 5, disputants shift to intentionally making non-NVC requests
3. Once disputants have mutual agreements -- support success, prepare for “failure”
X. Practicing with intensity (in dyads or triads)
1. Disputant gradually raises intensity of expression with neutral or triggering content
2. Whenever mediator feels triggered, stop the process and receive empathy
3. Go back to disputant expressing with intensity

This is a prerequisite training if you are interested in learning Restorative Circle facilitation skills or Sociocratic Governing tools.

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