Mediating conflicts has never been easy, but Gregory Encina Billikopf, University of California farm labor management advisor, says he’s found a better way to do it. His research suggests that mediators should hold separate advance meetings with the individuals involved in the conflict prior to conducting a joint session. Billikopf reveals that this technique defuses emotionally charged situations before involved parties face each other.

Additionally, Billikopf says mediators can reduce perceptions of bias by placing the chairs of the conflicting parties so that they face each other. Then, the mediator sits at a distance, which encourages the people involved to look at, and speak to each other rather than to the mediator.

You can see the research article titled “Contributions of Caucusing and Pre-Caucusing to Mediation” at the Web site: www.cnr.berkeley.edu/ucce50/ag-labor/7research/7res04.htm