I have found that negotiation and mediation are advocacy tools that successful social workers use to bring about change within individual client systems as well as in policy making. Social workers sometime use creative advocacy techniques that may extend beyond traditional channels in order to protect their clients from harm while balancing organizational policies and procedures that often restrict their ability to do their jobs.
The government shutdown over funding the Affordable Health Care Act, commonly known as Obamacare, reminds me that strong advocacy is often adversarial and can have negative consequences. What happened to using negotiation and mediation as advocacy tools? While there are many benefits to Obamacare, few would dispute there is much opposition to the law and full implementation. Mediation is a viable and evidenced-based process for resolving disputes peacefully and collaboratively. Why take the American people hostage?
Perhaps it’s time for each of us to become mediators. I would like to ask everyone who reads this column to become an armchair mediator with a fair and impartial in examining the government shutdown dispute. Before we can assume the role of armchair mediators, we must first put aside our political affiliations as well as our position on Obamacare to be objective in the matter. We need to honestly ask each of the parties “What if you are absolutely right, where do we go from here?”
A mediator would ensure all stakeholders, not just the loudest voices, at the table were heard. The politician, the everyman…Mediators ask difficult questions: for example, where is the opportunity for common ground and how do we respectfully acknowledge opposing points of view? Read More
In my inaugural column for the Social Worker Helper, my hope is to share my expertise as a mediator for over 30 years and highlight the use of mediation and negotiation as advocacy tools. All opinions are valued.