Recognition and empowerment: Freedom to make decisions regarding the course of their dispute 

The challenge for mediators is often how to avoid the problem of mediator directedness and placing responsibility for all outcomes on the parties in dispute.

According to Bush and Folger, recognition must be based on empowerment in that parties must be confident in their freedom to make decisions regarding the course of the dispute (Bush and Folger, 2004; pp 156).

Unlike facilitative or problem-solving mediation where the mediator uses reframing to clarify issues, the transformative mediator allows the parties to choose how much they want to recognise the views of the opponent. It is possible that recognition may lead to complete reconciliation between the disputants however on the other hand, the disputants may recognise each other to a lesser extent and may be willing to suspend self-interest only momentarily, or not at all, in order to recognise the other (Spangler, B, 2003).

If conflict is viewed as an opportunity for individuals to change their interactions with others – if they choose to do so – the onus is on all parties (including the mediator) to focus on shifting from a destructive interaction to a constructive one, thus bringing about conflict transformation.


  • Bush, R A. Baruch and Folger, J P., 2004: The Promise of Mediation: The Transformative Approach to Conflict, 2nd ed. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Publishers.
  • Bush, R A. Baruch and Folger, J P., 2007: The Promise of Mediation, pp 266-275
  • Spangler, B, 2003. Problem-Solving Mediation. Beyond Intractability. Eds. Guy Burgess and Heidi Burgess. Conflict Information Consortium, University of Colorado, Boulder. Posted: September.

Tune in for more tips next week… or contact me Shane Smith @ or @


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