January 26, 2017:

John Greer Selected for Membership in National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals 

John Greer, Esq.

John Greer, Esq.

Principal at Patuxent Mediation Services, LLC

MCDR Certified member, John Greer of Patuxent Mediation Services LLC is pleased to announce that he has been selected for membership in the prestigious National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals. The Academy is an association whose membership consists of dispute resolution professionals distinguished by their hands-on experience in the field of civil and commercial conflict resolution, as well as by their commitment to the profession.

January, 2017:

     Is It Ever OK to Blame?

     by Ellen Kandell
     January 2017 Ellen Kandell

Blame is frequently used, whether consciously or unconsciously, in an attempt to assign responsibility for something gone awry. To blame is to “assign responsibility for a fault or wrong.” My colleague, Cinnie Noble, tweeted a thought-provoking question: “When is it alright to blame?” This article will explore in brief the nature of blame and when it’s acceptable to blame, if ever.

The act of blaming, more often than not, is counterproductive to conflict resolution. Assigning blame allows the blamer to avoid taking any responsibility for their own actions and say the conflict is entirely the responsibility of the other person. However, conflict is rarely found to be the fault of solely one person. Blame does not change the argument or the facts of the situation. What it may do instead is put your colleague, friend, spouse, or teammate on the defensive, which in turn is likely to make them less receptive to your message.

Each of us has played the blame game at some point. The first reaction for many people is to find someone else to identify when things have gone wrong. We want to identify a person or situation outside of ourselves in order to avoid holding ourselves accountable for the negative situation or occurrence that has taken place. Sometimes we attempt to assign out blame in order to avoid punishment or avoid damage to personal self-esteem. This blame game allows us to divorce ourselves from our actions and shut down meaningful, insightful and constructive communication.

When Is It Acceptable to Blame?

Having said all of that, is it ever acceptable to blame? It depends entirely on the situation. Blame is negative the majority of the time, whether it’s blaming someone else or using negative self-talk and blaming yourself. However, there is an instance in which it may be acceptable to blame. If “blaming yourself”, helps you to recognize and admit a mistake you’ve made, then this blame is helping you learn. You have made a mistake and taken responsibility for it. You have held yourself accountable, and now you can move forward. This applies to both professional and personal situations or relationships. But in applying blame to yourself, it’s crucial to avoid the negative self-talk that often accompanies the blame. Beating up on yourself while holding yourself accountable for a mistake undermines the positive effects of taking responsibility and learning from a past mistake.

Blaming others is much trickier, and I can think of no instance in which it would be appropriate to do so unless it initiates a conversation in which all parties step up and take responsibility for their own part in the conflict or for their own mistakes.

Is There a Place for Blame in Conflict Resolution?

The act of blaming is more likely to occur in the early stages of conflict. Because blame tends to cause a person to become defensive or even antagonistic, it is considered defensive communication. Blaming is more likely to cause or escalate a conflict than it is to resolve it. Once one person in the conflict becomes defensive, the other person is also likely to react in a similar fashion. Neither party is able to hear what the other is saying, thereby extending the conflict.

In mediation, blame is counterproductive. By blaming the other person, you remove yourself from any responsibility or accountability for your part in the dispute. This causes the other person to get angry and likely shut down. If you are the one on the receiving end of blame, you are likely to become defensive and antagonistic.  No one wins. As a mediator I start by asking open-ended questions about the nature of the dispute.  While mediation is a forward thinking process issues about causation and responsibility often surface early. Once that is openly discussed parties in a mediation may take ownership of their role in causing the misunderstandings that fed the dispute. Only then can are you more likely to find resolution and avoid a lengthy and costly conflict.


Ellen F. Kandell is a certified professional mediator and attorney with over 30 years of public and private sector experience. She provides mediation, group facilitation and training to diverse, national clients. Ms. Kandell trained as a mediator at Harvard Law School in 1992 and has mediated over 800 cases. In June 2016, she participated as an assessor in the second annual Consensual Dispute Resolution Competition (CDRC), an international mediation competition in Vienna Austria.

News from the IMI:


If you and/or your colleagues are interested in the development of the enforcement instrument for mediated agreements and you will be in New York City on February 8th, 2017, you are very welcome to participate in the


as a side event on the occasion of the 67th session of the UNCITRAL Working Group II (Dispute Settlement) at the United Nations headquarters.

DATE & TIME: February 8th, 2017, 19:00-21:00

VENUE: New York Times Building. Hosted by JAMS.

Participation is free of charge. Please RSVP to Kathleen Pierz at kpierz@jamsadr.com

Read more at https://imimediation.org/uncitral-imi-joint-program-february-8-2017

Consultation on the relationship between informal justice and the courts, by ELI & ENCJ

The European Law Institute (ELI) and The European Network of Councils of the Judiciary (ENCJ) are in the process of working on a joint project on the relationship between informal justice and the courts and need comments on a consultation paper from both users and practitioners. The final submission date for responses is March 13th.

Please read an invitation letter from Diana Wallis, president of ELI and past IMI Board Member, and Nuria Diaz Abad, current president of the ENCJ, at:


More information is available at: 

YMI/IMI Support of the ICC Mediation Competition 2017

YMI logo (large letters).jpg

IMI and the Young Mediators Initiative (YMI) are delighted to once again support the ICC Commercial Mediation Competition, which kicks off this Friday in Paris! (February 3-8, 2017).The 6-day Competition is ICC's biggest annual educational event and is exclusively devoted to international commercial mediation. It includes training programmes for all participants and numerous social events.

The purpose of the Competition is that it will encourage the teaching and learning of an effective use of mediation. Over 500 participants from more than 40 countries will gather, including 66 university teams and 130 world leading commercial mediators and academics who will serve as judges and mediators.

The six days of the competition will see over 150 mock mediation sessions take place! Follow the competition at Twitter at @ICCMediation and the ICC Mediation Facebook page

It is time for reflection and looking forward as the year comes to a close and we get ready for the holiday season in my part of the world. There is much to celebrate from the viewpoint of the International Mediation Institute (IMI). To name a few - the Global Pound Conference (GPC) series was launched in the first quarter and is progressing quickly to engage stakeholders throughout the world; new Board members joined IMI, broadening our diversity; IMI published its 2016 Biennial Census Survey; talks continue in Working Group II to explore the adoption of an instrument to enforce mediation settlements for cross border disputes; and IMI established criteria for mediators resolving Investor State Disputes. Let’s celebrate these accomplishments.

The Global Pound Conference Series

The Series was launched in Singapore and since that time events were held in Lagos, Mexico City, New York City, Geneva, Toronto, and Madrid. In total 41 events have been planned in 31 countries. We promised a unique event to engage stakeholders in a modern conversation about the future of dispute management and resolution and we delivered through the hard work of many people on the ground. We started to collect information about what is being currently delivered to stakeholders, but more important, what they want in the future. In reviewing the information collected in very different locations, we find that there are many similarities in viewpoint. This intelligence will help shape the processes to meet stakeholder needs. We encourage you to review the reports from each event by going to: http://globalpoundconference.org/gpc-series-data/local-voting-results

In 2017 GPC events are planned in 35 cities so far. Please sign up for notifications about scheduled events at: http://www.globalpoundconference.org/conference-series/attend-a-gpc-series-event

Thank you to all of our Sponsors for making these events a reality. Special thanks for the Diamond Sponsors HSF and SIDRA and Platinum Sponsor PWC. A list of Sponsors and Sponsorship opportunities can be found at: http://globalpoundconference.org/supporters-(2)/global-sponsors

In order to continue the promise, we need you to engage users of dispute management and resolution processes to attend the events. Please invite your colleagues and clients.

We hope to see you at one or more of the GPC events.

The IMI Board

The IMI face-to-face Board meeting was held this year in London on May 23-24, 2016.

This year’s meeting marshalled the addition of Board members expanding our focus. Four new Board members were elected. They are:

Cyril DumoulinSenior Legal Counsel at Shell’s Global Litigation Department (Europe & Middle East North Africa).

Silvia GarrigoSenior Of Counsel, Morrison, Foerster LLP. 

Susanne Gropp-Stadler - Lead Counsel Litigation with Siemens AG. 

Sriram Panchu - President of Indian Mediation Association.

We are grateful for the passion and energy of the Board members who retired in 2016 and plan to retire at the beginning of 2017:

Diana Wallis, Former Vice President of European Parliament.

Doug McKay, Vice President of International Organisations at Shell International.

Shawn Conway, Managing Partner of the law firm Conway & Partners, Advocaten & Attorneys-at-law, based in Rotterdam, The Netherlands. 

Ute A. Joas Quinn, Associate General Counsel at Hess Services UK Ltd. ADR and community grievance mechanisms in legal upstream operations in Europe, Middle East and North Africa. 

2016 International Mediation and ADR Survey 

The results of the IMI 2016 International Mediation and ADR Survey are now published on the IMI Portal: https://imimediation.org/imi-2016-biennial-census-survey-results

815 participants completed this census survey, including mediation users, mediators, advisors, educators, students, providers and other stakeholders. The survey was designed to gather census data as well as views about Mediation and ADR awareness. 

As IMI approaches its 10th anniversary, this information (and the many additional written comments submitted with this survey as well as the data collected through the GPC) will help us to prioritise efforts to raise the profile of mediation and ADR around the world.

We very much appreciate the time and participation of all survey respondents as well as the tireless work of Ute. A. Joas Quinn and the volunteers who were part of the IMI Survey Taskforce - Khory McCormick (Australia), M.Salman Ravala (USA) and Christiane Rosenbaum (USA-Germany).

Enforcing Cross Border Commercial Mediation Settlements

UNCITRAL’s Working Group II has been exploring whether to adopt an instrument to enforce cross border commercial mediation settlement agreements. IMI participates in the deliberations by providing information and intelligence about how the mediation process works and why mediation users need such an instrument. The dialogue has been vigorous and we see that much more work needs to be accomplished before a decision is made. The next meeting is scheduled at the United Nations in New York City February 6-10.

We are conducting a survey to explore the views of businesses on whether and how cross-border settlements reached through mediation can be enforceable around the world. Delegates to the UNCITRAL Working Group II meetings are interested in this input to help them make informed decisions in their work on a proposed instrument by having direct input from parties involved in cross-border disputes. We reach out to you and/or your business colleagues and clients to express the views and share experiences by participating in this short survey: 

Please encourage other business users of dispute resolution services to complete the survey by sending them the link. In order to obtain a purely commercial viewpoint, the survey should be completed only by in-house business attorneys or executives, not their advisers or other third parties.

We very much appreciate your help and look forward to hearing from you. 

Investor State Competency Criteria

In September, IMI announced the establishment of Investor State Mediator competency criteria – see: https://imimediation.org/imi-introduces-competency-criteria-for-investor-state-mediators

The aim of the criteria is to assist parties, institutions, designating authorities and other appointing bodies in selecting competent and suitable mediators/co-mediators, to assist the resolution of disputes between private sector entities and States, by creating or developing criteria that can help inform and guide their choices.

The IMI Criteria will be piloted by relevant organisations and practitioners involved in investor-state dispute resolution and reviewed in 2017. The Task Force will be working with the pilot programs, investors and States to promote the use of mediation in Investor-State disputes and negotiations with the help of the newly developed Criteria.

IMI Growth

During the last decade IMI grew steadily by creating a cadre of competent and experienced mediators and bringing transparency and awareness to the mediation process.

Today there are 475 IMI Certified mediators in Africa (Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya), Asia (China, HK, India, Malaysia, Singapore), Australia and New Zealand, Europe (Belgium, Croatia, Cyprus, Denmark, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Portugal, Romania, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, UK, Russia), Latin America (Brazil, Colombia, Mexico), North America (Canada, US), and Israel. Demographically by gender, 64% are male and 36% are female.

IMI approved 40 Qualifying Assessment Programs in 22 countries including Albania, Australia/New Zealand, Canada, Denmark, France, India, Ireland, Italy, Netherlands, Nigeria, Portugal/Brasil, Romania, Russia, Singapore, Spain, South Africa, and the United States.

Young Mediators Initiative (YMI) includes 106 members from Andorra, Egypt, Hong Kong, Malaysia, India, Australia, New Zealand, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Denmark, France, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Ireland, The Netherlands, Poland, Portugal, Romania, Russia, Slovakia, Sweden, Spain, UK, Argentina, Venezuela, Canada, US, Colombia; and 18 active YMI Mentors are from Belgium, Canada, France, Hungary, Romania, Singapore, South Africa, The Netherlands, UK and the US.

In closing, 2017 will prove to be an even more active year. We expect that the information collected through the Global Pound Conference coupled with the 2016 Census Survey will form the base to set a strategy for improving access to justice and developing the dispute resolution field and of course the future of IMI and our community.

Thank you for being part of this historic review and for your support of IMI. We welcome your ideas and suggestions – so please keep them coming.

All of us associated with IMI wish you a happy, healthy and prosperous 2017.

Warm regards,

Deborah Masucci
Chair of the Board 
International Mediation Institute




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MCDR is the oldest membership-based organization in Maryland dedicated to promoting the use of mediation and supporting

the mediation profession.  We have a proud history of successfully advocating for allowing multiple professions to practice mediation,

halting attempts to restrict the practice some fifteen years ago.  MCDR is the first organization to establish performance based criteria

now in use as a national model, part of an ongoing dialogue on quality assurance and mediator credentials.

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