Challenging Conflict Mediation Through Understanding

Gary Friedman

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Challenging Conflict can be purchased along with its related DVD or videotape, Saving the Last Dance: Mediation Through Understanding, at a discounted rate. See above for prices.

Challenging Conflict shows how, through mediation, parties can overcome conflict rather than remain within its grasp at enormous cost to themselves and others. The authors demonstrate how mediators and lawyers can support parties in working together effectively in ways that deeply respect their humanity. Principles and methodologies of the understanding-based approach are discussed through the telling of ten stories of actual commercial mediation.


"Challenging Conflict is a must read for any mediator, lawyer or party to a conflict! It eloquently and lucidly presents a model of mediation designed to encourage party choice and empowerment, human understanding and communication, and agreements that honor the needs, interests, and values of parties in dispute. This is the long awaited manifesto of two pioneers in mediation who originated the non-caucus model to ensure party participation and understanding, and minimize lawyer or third party neutral control of outcomes. The transcripts and dialogues of mediation beautifully illustrate the moves and interventions that quality mediators can make to ensure a meditative process with integrity for the parties, and which honors both process choices and outcome selections that are negotiated freely by parties learning how to deal with conflict productively, constructively, and meaningfully. Mediators, parties, lawyers–all human beings will learn how to "deal" (not necessarily resolve) better with conflict and use it to construct new relationships and enhanced self-knowledge. This will be one of the "classic" texts on how to mediate for generations to come." – Carrie Menkel-Meadow, A.B. Chettle Jr. Professor of Law, Dispute Resolution and Civil Procedure and Director, Georgetown-Hewlett Program in Conflict Resolution and Legal Problem-Solving Georgetown University Law Center

"This book is unusual in that it is very realistic about the complexity and challenges of conflict and still unrelentingly optimistic about peoples' capacity, with the assistance of skilled mediators, to craft solutions appropriate to their needs and informed by the sense of fairness that can emerge from mutual understanding. The authors illustrate their approach with case examples that demonstrate why their framings have been so effective, they never get caught up in the mechanical application of mediation techniques or a narrow concern with resolution. In their approach at the core of effective mediation is deep understanding." – Dr. Howard Gadlin, Ombudsman and Director of Center for Cooperative Resolution, National Institutes of Health

"The practical approach to the subject of this example-filled book comes remarkably close to the most convincing argument for mediation: to try it." – Dr. Francis Gurry, Deputy Director General and Director General Elect of the World Intellectual Property Organization

"Using interesting and at times intriguing case examples, Himmelstein and Friedman show how a focus on deeper understanding and joint problem solving can be the keys to unlocking difficult conflicts. They urge mediators to engage with disputants in looking at their conflicts rather than take away the problem from them. This book is worthwhile and engrossing reading for anyone interested in developing an effective approach to mediating difficult disputes." – Bernard S. Mayer, Werner Institute, Creighton University, author of  Beyond Neutrality


Co-winner of the 2008 CPR Award for Excellence in ADR (Outstanding Book Category)

Challenging Conflict Attributes

Author: Gary Friedman and Jack Himmelstein
Publisher: Chicago, IL: American Bar Association and the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School (2008)