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  • Kenwyn James

Training in the time of Corona


This article was written for, and first published in, the November edition of The Society of Mediators Newsletter.

What do you think when you read this title?

What if I don’t interpret it in the same way you do?

How will you feel if, by the end, I haven’t delivered on your expectations?


Why all the (open) questions?!


We interpret the world in ways that make sense to us. What makes sense to us is moulded by our experiences, values, assumptions and emotional state at the time.


Your anticipation of what you are about to read is influenced by what makes sense to you and what is important to you.


Your expectations are likely to be swayed by seeing this in the Society of Mediators newsletter. You may be a faculty member hoping for words of wisdom on delivering training in a socially distanced world or, as a potential delegate, are you seeking reassurance that you can confidently expect the same high standard of training as your predecessors?


My interpretation of the brief for this article was influenced by the associations it triggered in me.


These associations and my interpretation of training would have been different if my first sight of it had been after an educational supervisor’s meeting with a junior doctor (I’m a Consultant Anaesthetist) or directly after breaking the news to my 13 year old son that his, and our, sanity is to be tested for the foreseeable future because rugby, lacrosse and Tae Kwondo training is cancelled again. Working in Operating Theatres and Intensive Care, my experience of Coronavirus is likely to be different to yours.


Our experiences, assumptions, preferences, priorities and implicit rules about how things work contribute to the conscious and unconscious biases that drive our interactions and relationships with others. People do and say what make sense to them but we interpret, and frequently judge, based on what makes sense to us.


How often do we question and challenge our view of the world and actively consider that the combined experiences of the people we are interacting with differ from our own? How frequently do we acknowledge that this may result in a completely different understanding of even the simplest word, phrase or action?


Mediation is about putting our own biases and expectations aside and helping others explore their own personal sense making. This is the added value we try to bring.


Open questions allow answers that may surprise us. Answers that we could never have predicted. A response or insight that the person we are speaking with may not have considered.


Closed questions are framed by our view of the world. They, therefore, limit what we can learn.


How often do we apply the same approach to the rest of our lives and exercise the compassion and curiosity that can help us explore, and understand, the behaviours and motivations of others rather than confidently judging them based only on what makes sense to us?


How often do we consider that the skills we learn in mediation training are not just for mediation, but for life?


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