5 Podcasts for Mediators this Winter Break

I am a bit of a podcast junkie. I currently subscribe to more podcasts than I can listen to in an average week. This means I always look forward to time when I can catch up!

Reading this I imagine you scratching your head thinking what is a podcast? and what has this got to do with mediation? Well, a podcast is a series of web-distributed audio (or video) files to portable media players (like an iPhone). Basically, they’re like radio show episodes you can download and play when you want.

They are an excellent way to choose content and access a great deal of material that will encourage reflective practice and offer helpful tools. It is easy to find a number of podcasts that use different formats (narrative, interview/dialogue, monologue) to suit your listening preference. Podcasts also have their own communities that engage in further discussion on social media as well.

It’s never been easier to access thought provoking content! Subscribe on Apple Podcasts or Google Music (or through any fine podcast app).

To change things up from the winter break reading lists we see this time of year, I offer you a listening list.

Top 5 Podcasts for Mediators

Here are my top 5 podcast recommendations for mediators to listen to over the winter break (and subscribe to for future episodes):

5. The Turnaround!

The Turnaround!Interviewers, interviewed. The Turnaround is a new show about our greatest living interviewers, hosted by Jesse Thorn and produced by Maximum Fun and Columbia Journalism Review. Featuring conversations with prominent interviewers about their careers and their craft, the show is a perfect resource for a new generation of storytellers and journalists. You’ll hear Jesse speak with Larry King, Terry Gross, Werner Herzog, Audie Cornish, and so many more!

Want to learn more about interviewing and asking effective questions? This is the podcast for you. Jesse Thorn chats with some amazing interviewers about how they interview. It’s a great way to spend some time reflecting on how we as mediators engage with clients and go about asking all sorts of questions, and the different ways they prepare. A great opportunity to peek behind the curtain.
Episodes are about 60mins+.

Get a taste of The Turnaround:
Brooke Gladstone


4. Overthinking Conflict

Overthinking ConflictExploring the business, skills and styles of peacemaking. Our goals are to have interesting conversations, delve into the hard edges of conflict resolution and support developing practitioners like ourselves.

Each week, Overthinking Conflict explores a different aspect of peacemaking. Overall, there is a great deal of variety in the interviewees and breadth to their approaches and contexts to peacemaking. The hosts have different worldviews and approaches to their peacemaking practices which makes the conversations with guests all the more enjoyable and accessible.  Alright, full disclosure time. I co-host this podcast with Amanda Semenoff.
Episodes are about 25mins.

Get a taste of Overthinking Conflict:
Curiosity for Better Holidays with Kathy Taberner and Kirsten Taberner Siggins


3. Invisibilia

InvisibiliaInvisibilia (Latin for invisible things) is about the invisible forces that control human behavior – ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions. Co-hosted by Hanna Rosin, Alix Spiegel, and Lulu Miller, Invisibilia interweaves narrative storytelling with scientific research that will ultimately make you see your own life differently.

I love how Invisibilia links scientific research and storytelling. It really makes for some engaged listening and a way to learn more about human behaviour. Many of the topics explored are particularly relevant to conflict resolution: fear, emotions, culture, perception and more. A bonus is that the stories translate well to retelling with clients to encourage self-reflection.
Episodes are about 60mins.

Get a taste of Invisibilia:
Frame of Reference

2. The Space Between

The Space Between with Dr. Tammy LenskiThe Space Between is about getting better results from your most difficult and important conversations. Award-winning mediator, executive coach, and conflict resolution teacher Dr. Tammy Lenski shares practical strategies for resolving conflict and tension in high-priority relationships at work and home.

Tammy offers up short and highly useful tools in her podcast that are easy to work into your own practice. Each episode breaks down a tool or concept to make it easy to integrate into your own toolbox. She also couches the episodes in personal and relatable stories. If you are looking for specific skills and tools, this is definitely the podcast for you.
Episodes are about 5-10mins.

Get a taste of The Space Between:
The question that ends hamster wheel debates


1. Hidden Brain

Hidden BrainA conversation about life’s unseen patterns. Hosted by social science correspondent Shankar Vedantam, Hidden Brain links research from psychology and neurobiology with findings from economics, anthropology, and sociology, among other fields. The goal of Hidden Brain isn’t merely to entertain, but to give you insights to apply at work, at home and throughout your life.

The storytelling is well crafted and sensitive with social science research woven in to support and sometimes challenge our expected reactions to a story. Social science research is made not only accessible, but thoroughly understandable. The occasional stopwatch science segments is a fun, rapid-fire presentation of research on certain topics between host Shankar Vedantam and author Dan Pink. Each episode will inform and entertain.

The topics do range a fair bit, however this is probably the podcast that encourages me to reflect  on my own practice and what is happening for those in conflict the most.
Episodes are about 40-60mins.

Get a taste of Hidden Brain:
Tunnel Vision

Are you already an avid podcast fan? What shows are in your feed?
Share them in the comments below!

I hope you find a podcast of interest in this short list. Part of the fun is exploring and finding new podcasts that speak to you. Happy listening!

C.D. SaintC.D. Saint is a Sr. Coordinator with Mediate BC’s Roster Program where he promotes mediation and helps facilitate new conversations within the conflict resolution community around processes, roles and more. He co-hosts the Overthinking Conflict podcast, mediates and volunteers with the North Shore Restorative Justice Society.

Photo by Alphacolor 13 on Unsplash

Sharing the Land: Connecting with the DR Community at CLE’s DR Conference 2015

By Colleen Spier

I am a lawyer/mediator who has been mediating since the spring of 2011, and am always interested in attending conferences that pertain to alternative dispute resolution as a means to keep current on developments within the practice area. I recently attended the 2015 Dispute Resolution Conference Share the Land, offered through the CLEBC, and found this to be a most creative avenue for networking and exploring developments both locally and internationally in the realm of ADR.

Setting the Stage

I’ll begin by sharing my pleasure in arriving at the conference site, which was the Improv Theater located on Granville Island. Just as I have always felt and appreciated the creative differences between litigation and mediation, I immediately felt the creative difference this conference was going to provide based on its venue; and, I wasn’t disappointed.

old-timey fisticuffsWhen do you get to attend a conference with a lunch break consisting of actors prepared to “playback” through live performance key moments you recall from your mediations? High conflict situations resulting in fisticuffs between counsel? Now imagine that being acted out right before your eyes and watching the actors carry you through the decompression of the conflict through the mediator’s eyes. Learning through playback: Just imagine that!

Hitting the Mark

“New World” - What’s New in Dispute Resolution Around the World Chair: C.D. Saint, Mediate BC Speakers: Daniela Cohen, Host Program Scalabrini Centre, South Africa Sarah Daitch, AccessFacility, Netherlands Meredith Gray, Criminal Court Mediation New York Peace Institute, USA Rishita Nandagiri, Ha Ha Ha Sangha, IndiaWhat I imagine, is a world where people solve problems more, and litigate less, and I have always seen ADR as the mechanism through which that reality may occur. I was most pleased to have attended a morning international panel session entitled, “What’s New Around the World,” wherein, I heard of at least 3 other jurisdictions that are using various ADR processes to resolve conflict, including in situations involving refugees, which is now of imminent importance to our country.

“Noob Cannon” - Diversity on Mediator Rosters Chair: Julie Daum, Mediator, Fraser Lake Speakers: Jenifer Crawford, Crawford Law Office, Kamloops Ann Lee, Mediator Roster Manager, Mediate BC Kamaljit Lehal, Lehal & Company, Delta Yuki Matsuno, Mediator, Vancouver Adrienne S. Smith, Pivot Legal Society, Vancouver Kathy Taberner, Institute of Curiosity, Vernon Paul Taberner, Mediator, VernonI also attended a session on diversity, which opened the discussion of what is diversity and does there need to be more of it on the roster? It was wonderful to have so many minds share their perspective on this issue, and I can say I was surprised to learn that some see diversity as the creation of a bias or power-imbalance. The thought shared was that mediators, regardless of their background, sex, or culture, should all be bringing neutrality, as much as possible, to the table, so identifying a unique characteristic in a mediator that may align better for one party over another is not bringing neutrality. Thus, “Is diversity neutral?” and “What is neutrality?” became themes our discussion group explored. Many others felt that diversity is lacking on the current roster, and that the characteristics of a mediator do help shape their practice and this does not negate the neutrality of their practice, rather it enhances it.

These perspectives resonated with me both as a mediator and as a lawyer. From my perspective as a mediator, I feel having diversity on the roster is important as it provides different skill sets, different perspectives, and different cultural backgrounds, which provides a diverse learning environment in which we all network, collaborate and benefit from. From my perspective as a lawyer, it provides my clients with choice, which is important as we are planning “their” discussion. When choosing a mediator, I ask my clients to consider if they have any preferences for the person they are choosing to facilitate their discussion. Often, they have none, but more often than not, they have particular preferences, which assists with their level of comfort and trust in the mediator and the process. I will often receive comments such as, “I would like an experienced mediator with more than a few years of practice,” or “I would feel more comfortable with a male mediator,” or “I would prefer a mediator who is Aboriginal and would not only respect, but also understand, my request to open with a prayer.”

I tend to align with the thoughts that these preferences do not impact the neutrality of the mediator, as the role of the mediator remains the same: to perform their work towards all of the parties in a neutral and unbiased manner that does not favour any one party over another.

Get What You Want, Get What You Need - The Pros and Cons of Med/Arb Carol Hickman, QC, Quay Law Centre, New WestministerAnother interesting session involved learning about the latest in med-arb, which appears to be fairly infant in its use in British Columbia, but definitely emerging as a strong contender in ADR for those who want finality in process. The presentation included a general description of med-arb and how it differs from either mediation or arbitration independently, how the practice is used in different provinces in Canada, and also the benefits, pitfalls and challenges of such a process.

A question was posed as to how one would practice differently as a mediator in a med-arb process as opposed to their practice in a straight mediation process, and it was identified that you must be much more critical of your steps in the mediation portion, ie. Being mindful of the length of time you spend in caucus with each party to ensure balance so that if you are eventually the arbitrator, you are seen as completely neutral. Also, how do you ensure you are basing a final decision on only information provided at the arbitration and not mixing it with information you heard during mediation and possibly during private caucuses in mediation? I was feeling I would be uncomfortable with the changing of the hats described in this process, but we then heard about one way these concerns were being addressed, which is through a team approach, and that idea appealed greatly to me: I will conduct the mediation and if arbitration is required, you will go to my colleague for the arbitration portion.

Curtain Call

The weather was not on our side the day of the conference, it was mostly overcast, and did start to rain during the latter part of the day; however, this encouraged coffee drinking and networking and provided for opportunities for me to connect with colleagues working in various regions of BC, as well as fellow mediators from Victoria for whom I get little chance to speak with despite our close proximity. This conference highlighted for me the importance of remaining connected with the ADR community at large and reminded me that although it may feel as though we work in isolation, we do ‘share the land,’ and must remember to share our thoughts, questions, knowledge and wisdom, with each other, across that land.

Colleen Spier
Colleen Spier

Colleen Spier is a child protection mediator and family lawyer based in Victoria. A Métis woman, she is the Vancouver Island Representative of the Canadian Bar Association’s Aboriginal Lawyer’s Forum and the President of the Board of the Directors for Island Metis Family and Community Services, and an active board member of Metis Community Services in Surrey.



Goodbye Wilson: How I spent November 10 at the CLE Share the Land Conference

By Jereme Brooks (aka Your Favourite Uncle Jer, esq[1])

Good Afternoon Kidlets,

It is I, your favourite Uncle Jer and I’m happy to connect with you today. Our topic of discussion is the recently held Share the Land Conference hosted by CLEBC, and chaired by Sharon Sutherland and Jenifer Crawford.


Now before I go any further, I’m going to confess a little something to you. I hate going to these types of things for a number of reasons:

  1. I could be working and making money instead of not working and paying money,
  2. I could be out looking for more work because eating is important to me,
  3. I could be catching up on paperwork because paper is important to some people,
  4. I could be sleeping, or otherwise lounging and finding the perfect waste of time, or finally
  5. Having some quality me time with my old pal Johnny Walker and his brothers Blackie and Red.

Regardless, when Sharon Sutherland calls – I answer my phone; when she says “Hey would you like to be in a video on diversity in the mediation community?” I say okay sure; when she says “Do you want to come to the conference it’s going to be shown at?” I pray that I’m booked that day, but eventually and inevitably say “Well absolutely, sure, of course…” and I do so with the biggest smile on my face. I then wonder what kind of hold she has over me, and resolve myself to reconcile that need for my former instructor’s approval in therapy at my earliest convenience.

And then the day arrived. I woke at 5 to begin my journey to Granville Island from Langley. Life on 4 hours sleep is a cruel existence so I quickly found the coffee on my arrival. I was practically on time so I made my way into the theater. The seat next to Darrin Hotte was empty so I took it. I smiled because he’s been a friend of my wife’s for 20 years and he’s actually a genuinely nice guy. I say hi, sit down and notice that he smells of good will and optimism – this was going to be a long day.

Informed Consent

“New World” - What’s New in Dispute Resolution Around the World Chair: C.D. Saint, Mediate BC Speakers: Daniela Cohen, Host Program Scalabrini Centre, South Africa Sarah Daitch, AccessFacility, Netherlands Meredith Gray, Criminal Court Mediation New York Peace Institute, USA Rishita Nandagiri, Ha Ha Ha Sangha, India

The first session I attended was in the theater. Once the logistical challenges subsided, the “New World” session discussed mediation activities happening around the globe. From mediation being used in a community development setting between corporations/governments and communities around the world– to mediation being used in a restorative justice context within the criminal justice system in New York, we were able to hear firsthand about how mediation was being used to open dialogue and make life better for people. It was pretty cool and I think Tony Prkacin would have been proud to hear the woman from New York say “anything can be mediated with informed consent”. It was nice to have that sentiment echoed from a different part of the world. Collaborative practice for everyone. Awesome.

It was at that point that I realized that my blood caffeine level was low. It was time for either more coffee, or whatever it was Lance Armstrong used to win those races. And since there was nowhere to lay down, or a reputable dealer in sight, I opted for more coffee.

The spread was really quite remarkable, although the stir sticks left something to be desired. The pastries and fruit were all very well prepared and so I got a refill of a very nice medium roast and headed for the next session Noob Cannon – which was the diversity panel.

Diversity and Identity

“Noob Cannon” - Diversity on Mediator Rosters Chair: Julie Daum, Mediator, Fraser Lake Speakers: Jenifer Crawford, Crawford Law Office, Kamloops Ann Lee, Mediator Roster Manager, Mediate BC Kamaljit Lehal, Lehal & Company, Delta Yuki Matsuno, Mediator, Vancouver Adrienne S. Smith, Pivot Legal Society, Vancouver Kathy Taberner, Institute of Curiosity, Vernon Paul Taberner, Mediator, Vernon

Noob Cannon, a workshop where you really had to kind of look around to see the Token Middle-Aged White Guy. Seriously, this was where the diverse crowd (the cool kids, if you will) went to learn and I was going to be at that table. Plus I was in the video, and I wanted to make sure they got my good side (they did not, or more reasonably I don’t have a good side). In any case, I showed up ready to experience a good old fashioned chat on the need for more diversity; which incidentally you would not have guessed based on the lack of Caucasian men in the room. Seriously, I felt like I walked into a Benneton Ad. The Liberal Government’s Cabinet is only slightly less diverse than the population of this room. Oh well, let’s preach to the choir. And then it begins…

I’m told that we’ll be doing a visual depiction of ourselves at which point I immediately began to freak out. Will we need to share this stuff? Do people need to see me? Can’t I just be a wallflower? All these and more questions flood my brain and then it’s my turn to introduce myself – awesome.

It’s at that point that I gave voice to my greatest fear, that I am different, lesser, not one of the crowd. My path to mediation was different, I am different, and I am foreign. And then I break a little.

Everyone is very nice and affirming at this point. I mustered up some courage, pulled it together, received the comfort and support so readily offered to me, and began a new stage of participation. The group helped bring me in.

We watched the video, chatted amongst our table and talk about our experiences and the need/benefit of diversity on the rosters. It was a great talk, I wish we’d recorded it. I wish less diverse groups heard it. Regardless, it was good, healing and reaffirming. There are others like me in some ways, and some others who are different but are providing assistance to people and groups in ways that I could not. I’m glad they’re here today. I’m glad I know them now.

Playback on Island Life

Lunch came – great food. Healthier than my body is accustomed to. But I don’t think you can get a stroke from the unwelcome introduction of Kale into a meal. Oh well, it was chewy; I’ll get over it. Pass the salt.

There’s a Vancouver Playback Theatre performance to entertain us. It’s improv, and liking improve, I settled in to enjoy it. And then I realized there are only seats up front – I’m screwed. But Julie Daum sat next to me so I figure it’s ok. They introduced themselves and said they do something like Conflict Theater, I realized at this point there will likely be no selzer gags. I’m happy to know I’ll stay dry, and yet some slapstick would have been a nice change. On with the show.

All was well with it: lot’s of gags, good movement, everyone engaged – and then they turned on us! They asked us to tell a story of a personal conflict. Yeah, okay. Why don’t I just give myself a papercut and you can pour some lemon juice on it? Or maybe you can date my ex? – you know, something equally as pleasant for me. Hey, while you’re at it you should correct my grammar. I love that.

But, good soldier I am, I turned to Julie and 5 seconds later she’s telling a story that had both of us in tears. Great.

And then it hit me. Many of us are carrying stuff and we have limited places to take it. We’re independent, neutral third parties. We don’t really have teams to debrief with, particularly in small practices like mine. It dawned on me that you guys are really the only ones who get what I do, and understand or empathize with the things I encounter.  And at the same time, you’re all my competitors – except CD; I’m not really sure what he is yet.

The end result is that I spend my time in isolation, not really by choice but through circumstance and some necessity. I equate it to being on an island, separate and apart from others but able to be accessed as necessary. It’s not a bad life really; I commute by walking downstairs for the most part. And when I do venture out, I get to help people resolve disputes. It’s pretty cool, I feel very fortunate to be part of this. Other mediators understand what I’m saying, I just don’t meet many others.

As the next session begins I get a phone call. Feedback on a mediation, suggestions that I could have somehow done something different. I see Sharon Sutherland and approach her to vent a little. She listens, validates, challenges, guides and empathizes. 10 minutes later it’s all better.

I’d spoken to Sharon earlier in the day and mentioned my apprehension in making the video. That in doing so I didn’t want to insult anyone or say the wrong thing. I had this realization that when you have the concern against “biting the hand that feeds you” it’s an acknowledgement that there’s a hand and it does feed you – and it can stop feeding you.

That fear is the ocean surrounding the island. That fear has to go because I have to tell you, it was good to be with peers, and it was good to be in a place where we all understood each other. I thought to myself as the conference wrapped up how nice it was to be off the island for a day.

Peace out and rest easy Kidlets, and we’ll see you at the next training thing. I still have some more CPD hours to do before the end of the year.

Until then I remain,

Your favourite Uncle Jer, esq

[1] Not the American lawyer kind of esquire, but the haute gentleman

Jereme Brooks
Jereme Brooks

Jereme Brooks is a Child Protection Mediator and also works with, and designs programs for, high risk youth and families. In addition to his sense of humour, he brings strong connections to the two cultures he is a product of (Okanagan First Nation and Street) to his mediation practice.

Image Credit: Aleksandar Ciric