How writing a book is like a mediation



It has been a while since I wrote my last blog but I do have a half decent excuse – I’ve been writing a book! ‘Conflict Management Tools. 30 practical tools to prevent and resolve workplace conflict’ is now published, so I can once again focus my writing on a new blog.

When I tell people I’ve written a book (in fact this is the fifth one I’ve either written or contributed to) they often say it is something they could never do, but I’m a firm believer in the ‘everyone has a book in them’ philosophy. That is especially true if, like me, you work as a consultant. We spend a lot of our time sharing our knowledge and expertise with clients, so why not capture this in a book? That was certainly the driver for my first book ‘DIY Mediation. The Conflict Resolution Toolkit for HR’. We may have plenty of potential content, but the challenge is to make that commitment and take the big step of putting pen to paper (or finger to keyboard!).

On pondering that challenge it occurred to me that there is a strange parallel between writing a book and doing a mediation. How does that work you may ask?! Here’s my thinking:

  • A book starts with an idea. I didn’t intend to write another book but I had an idea and it was gnawing away at me for ages. I knew I should do something about it but was concerned it would be demanding. However I also knew that the end result would be good. It is similar for people in conflict thinking about mediation. The thought of sitting down with someone you don’t get on with and discussing any issues is scary. You know it will be challenging but also that potentially there will be a good outcome.
  • Once you have made the decision to start a book, the writing itself can be a painful process. Some people say they love this bit – for me it is hard, demanding work, particularly in the early stages, and there are times when you think it is not worth it. This is also how someone typically feels at the start of a mediation. The early exchanges are often painful and I’m frequently told at this point that it isn’t going to work and we should stop. But, as with writing, we push on through and things start to get easier. With the book you get into your flow and as the end gets closer you feel more motivated. Similarly in a mediation, once you are focused on finding solutions, everyone becomes more positive.
  • The end of the process is the best bit. You can rightly feel proud of the book that you have written and know that you have achieved something significant. It doesn’t matter how many people read it, the fact that you took on the challenge and completed it is gratifying in itself, but even more so when people give you positive feedback. It is like this for participants at the end of a mediation. They can feel proud that they have addressed the situation, had the difficult conversation and reached a conclusion. I’m always ready to give them positive feedback at the end of a mediation as what they have done is a real achievement.

Where my comparison falls down is with the end product. Whilst you can’t go sharing your Mediation Agreement with anyone, you can certainly share your book! I’ve been amazed with the positive feedback I’ve had to the new book and I’m so glad I took that difficult decision a year ago to put finger to keyboard and make a start. If you are interested to see what the result was, my book is available on Amazon in ebook, paperback and hardback. As a taster you can download a pdf of the Introduction and the first tool here.