I will always remember my first course in college: English.  Father Herzog at Gonzaga, who looked disarmingly like Santa Claus. By that point I knew how to write. Not to mention it was an Honors level course, where we all scoffed at a measly 5 page book report.  The result?  We all flunked.  Every one stared in disbelief at a shining red “F” at the top of that page.

The real result?  We worked our tails off figuring out how to improve grammar, transition, cohesion, illustrative images, and actually be involved in our writing.

I have been remembering that course lately because as much as I hated going through that process, his honest feedback was the only thing that motivated me to become better.

I am guessing it is the same for chefs on reality cooking shows like Hell’s Kitchen.  They have been told their whole lives by their family and friends that they are incredible chef right up until that moment where Chef Ramsey throws them out of the kitchen.  It hurts.  It’s embarrassing.  But I bet they never serve undercooked scallops again.

So what do we do as mediators?  We all go to conferences and we talk about our natural abilities as mediators, but the reality is we don’t have Chef Ramsey or Father Herzog telling us where we glaringly need to improve.  In the mediation room, we don’t even have each other to point out areas of improvement.  When it comes down to is, we only have our clients.

As difficult as it is, I request every one of my clients to tell me where I could improve (Of course I ask them what worked as well :) )  But I sincerely want to know, from the only people to whom it really matters, how can I be a better mediator?

Although hard to read, this feedback has helped me fix problem areas in my mediator Statement, reframe my own reframing statements so that they can be more effective, and be aware of some of my non-verbals that were giving off the wrong signal.  I offer my evaluation form here as a place to get started.

This is a practice that I recommend we all do as mediators.  We are, after all, never done learning or improving.  Just ask Father Herzog.

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