I have attended a lot of conferences in my career, and typically the content is standard mediation-related information. The most recent conference however, hosted by the Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM) in Virginia, entitled Selling Peace in an Adversarial World, was different:
The opening session was with Peter Yarrow of Peter, Paul and Mary, who spoke about conflict. Other presenters included Chip Rose, Carl Schneider, Don Saposnek, Larry Gaughan, John Fisk, Steve Erickson, Marilyn McKnight, and Vik Rajan, who all had amazing presentations.
We had a different opening session with Justin Corbett, Chief Project Officer with Advancing Dispute Resolution, an organization that does a lot of work in survey design, data analysis, and report development. One of the questions Justin brought up was: "What do potential mediation clients value most - convenience, cost, credentials, or consumer critiques?” Of the 1,500 people posed with this question:
40 percent said mediator credentials
31.3 said cost of service
14.8 said recommendations or online reviews
9.6 said convenient scheduling options
There were four sessions on how to use a team of interdisciplinary professionals in mediation, including having financial experts, mental health professionals, and other specialists involved.
Five sessions were offered that talked about how mediators can use social media to get business. It was great to see the APFM taking full advantage of 21st century advancements - very fitting with the 20th anniversary of Back to the Future also being in October!
Another five sessions were available regarding financial issues in mediation, as well as several sessions on communications, children's issues, and elder care.
It was great to attend a conference that focused on new strategies and insights, deviating from the standard one mediator or co-mediation style and promoting interdisciplinary models. As well, the sessions offered on social media were a welcome addition to the typical conference fare.
What new insights have you learned about mediation?
Robert D. Bordett CFP, CDFA
and Mediation Services
888 U2AGREE (888.822.4733)