• Why do parties in conflict behave and act so irrationally?
  • Why do cost-conscious, profit-oriented CEO's of large multi-national organisations, drag their companies through costly and often futile protracted litigation, when it would be more commercially sensible to quickly resolve their dispute?
  • Why do family members squander their inheritance litigating with each other when the longer they argue, the smaller becomes the pot over which they are arguing?
  • Why are sensible and rational colleagues in the workplace reduced to quite childish behaviour when involved in a dispute at work?

All those involved with disputes are fast coming to the realisation that some knowledge of psychology is a vital ingredient for any realistic hope of resolution. The concept of using a psychological approach to conflict resolution was introduced to the UK by Paul Randolph together with the late Dr Freddie Strasser and has been taught and further developed on the Mediation Courses at Regent's University London since 1999.


The unique 'psychotherapeutic' model of mediation has achieved wide acclaim. By using this psychological approach Paul is able to be even more effective in all disputes involving a high degree of emotion and 'psychological baggage'.


The first lesson to be learned by anyone who has to deal with or manage conflict is that when parties are in conflict, they behave neither rationally nor commercially. Instead, they are propelled by emotional and psychological factors that drive them into deeply entrenched positions. In the terms of Aristotle, Emotions become the Master and Reason becomes the Slave.


Conflicts end to drain the participants of three valuable commodities: time; energy; and money. Such conflicts, if not handled effectively, can be hugely destructive. They destroy morale, efficiency and productivity, and in turn can devastate both the family life and the health of all those involved.


The need for a Psychological Approach


The very essence of a mediator's task is to encourage and enable parties to shift their positions. This is not easy. Almost all conflict involves injury to feelings: careers may be on the line, professional reputations may be at stake, power imbalances bubble to the surface, financial incentives come to the fore, and strongly held beliefs and values are under threat. So it is hardly surprising that few conflicts will be without their emotional element. Parties in conflict will have maintained their rigid positions for lengthy periods, and many friends, family members, lawyers, or experts may have tried but failed to move them. Without such a shift in attitude, the parties will remain in the conflict in the same entrenched positions as when they entered.


Paul Randolph is better able to secure such an attitude shift, through the benefit of some knowledge of the human condition and the traits that play a part in creating psychological blockages to resolution. Through an understanding of these aspects of human existence and behaviour, he as the mediator may be better able to effect a material change in the parties' perceptions of the conflict and their expectations as to the outcome. In this way, Paul is able to recognise and deal with such human interactions that so often create emotional obstacles to rational resolution of disputes.


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