Listening to Talk in Mediation: An Exercise in Conversation Analysis

Event Date: Wednesday September 17, 2008
Time: 8:30-10:00 A.M. (Continental Breakfast at 8:00)
Location: Pound Hall 335, Harvard Law School

Mediation happens primarily through talk. Successful mediators must listen and observe carefully while using their own talk to guide the participants in presenting their cases (offering, responding, disagreeing, agreeing, etc.). In this session, Professor Glenn will closely analyze mediation talk through a research method called conversation analysis (CA). CA involves close study of videotape and transcript to understand how people communicate. As a practice, CA heightens sensitivity to nuances of language use and nonverbal behaviors. It also increases sensitivity to how context shapes interpretation. Professor Glenn will introduce CA as a method, offer some preliminary observations about how to understand mediation talk, then lead participants in analyzing an excerpt from a videotaped mediation session.

Phillip Glenn’s (Ph. D., University of Texas at Austin) scholarly interests concern interaction in organizational and interpersonal contexts, especially negotiation, mediation, conflict, interviewing, and laughter. An expert in conversation analysis, Professor Glenn is currently a Visiting Scholar at the Program on Negotiation during his 2008 research sabbatical. His book Laughter in Interaction (Cambridge University Press, 2003) received the Outstanding Scholarly Publication Award from the Language and Social Interaction Division of the National Communication Association. He is co-editor of Studies in Language and Social Interaction (Erlbaum, 2003), author of numerous other articles and chapters, and serves on the editorial board of Research on Language and Social Interaction. He has held Fulbright appointments in the Czech Republic (1995) and the Republic of Moldova (2005). His courses at Emerson include Conflict and Negotiation (undergraduate), The Laughing Body (undergraduate), Negotiation (graduate), and Organizational Communication Theory (graduate). A certified mediator, Professor Glenn is associated with Metropolitan Mediation Services in Brookline.

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