Over the last few years,“Conflict Coaching” has emerged as a term associated with the type of work we do. The Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) community finds itself examining the coaching field as we contemplate our role in it, if any. This discussion is worthwhile, especially since coaching under the banner of conflict resolution is having an impact on ADR at a time when our field continues to negotiate our place within the American milieu. Essentially, we have a major branding problem! Instead of waiting to see whether conflict coaching will become generally accepted, we must get ahead of this issue by shaping its parameters and setting clients’ expectations.
In order for our ADR community to take hold of this unique opportunity to chisel the contours of our emerging field, we must establish a steering committee that will research, discuss and draft a feasibility study outlining the path forward. In order to get the discussion started, I offer the following in hopes that you, my fellow ADR community members, would engage by offering your thoughts, critique, guidance, advice and vision.
Let's start by considering Connie Noble's book, "Conflict Management Coaching," as a reference point for this emerging field. As beneficial as it is, the potential for conflict coaching far exceeds what the coaching industry can offer. After all, ADR has a number of mediation approaches including Transformative, Insight and Narrative mediations. ADR holds a distinct and respected position that doesn't actually require us to conform to the confines of "coaching."
Our role as ADR professionals extends beyond coaching; we guide, facilitate, and educate our clients. This approach aligns perfectly with the mission of Transformative Mediation, as outlined in Robert A. Baruch Bush and Joseph P. Folger's book, "The Promise of Mediation." Transformative mediators prioritize empowering clients with conflict resolution strategies, tactics, and techniques, including recognizing each party's needs and interests. Transformative Mediation seeks to transform relationships by transforming the individual. ADR also has Insight and Narrative mediation approaches that offer an alternative to the problem-solving model of Facilitative Mediation; a rich and dynamic field indeed.
Likewise, our mission is not to foster dependence on our expertise but to empower clients to manage and resolve their conflicts independently. To distinguish ourselves from "coaches" and eliminate confusion, we must choose a name for our yet to be defined profession. If coaching leaves us wanting, what about “Mediation”? It turns out that having the word "Mediation" in the title is counterproductive when our focus is on empowering clients rather than merely facilitating resolutions.
I propose the title of "Cognitore." This Latin word aptly means "Advocate," and it triggers the concept of "cognition" upon hearing it. Being a “cognition advocate” perfectly describes the work we do as Transformative Mediation professionals. It's important to note that a "Cognitore" is not a therapist. Talk therapy delves into understanding individuals and their past psychological issues, while conflict resolution and management are firmly rooted in the present and the future.
To establish "Cognitore" as a recognized profession, we have a multitude of tasks ahead. Defining, branding, and marketing are just the initial building blocks for a successful launch. If you share my enthusiasm for shaping a society adept at resolving conflicts, starting from interpersonal ones and leading to more significant structural challenges, please visit www.aethermediation.com/cognitore to learn about the next steps and opportunities that align with your skills and engagement level. Our time to act is now!