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Polarity Mapping and the Adult Development Model... More training required!

As a mediator working with large dysfunctional organizations, one of the greatest challenges is to be able to analyze the dynamics that are contributing to the problems and then to find a way to engage the participants in looking at those dynamics in new ways… (since their existing ways are typically not working to help them resolve things). I frequently feel somewhat overwhelmed and challenged by the need to figure things out and then find the right tools and strategies to engage people in useful, constructive discussions that will help them move forward.

In many cases, people are hesitant to talk openly and honestly about some of the significantly negative aspects of the situations they face… and it takes a lot to get those conversations started. The non-threatening way that Polarity Mapping puts the negative dynamics, fears and early warning signs on the table for discussion has significant potential to assist client groups in conflict situations to have needed discussions in a relatively safe way… While there are risks in using any tool – and skill / experience required to use it appropriately, from what I have seen there is significant potential for increasing the value of the conversations that people have… and that makes it worth exploring. Cliff Kayser’s session on Wednesday was a great introduction to the theory and practicalities of using Polarity Maps with groups as a way to clarify how and why things are playing out the way they are… and to start planning for how to manage the situations more effectively…

In the course of learning about Polarity Mapping, I also came across more information on the Adult Development model. From my perspective, I can see great potential for this knowledge as a tool to help me understand the reactions I encounter in working with groups. It was a great Ah-ha moment to begin to understand the mindset that exists at each level of development – and how that mindset shows up… I now have a beginner’s sense of how people at varying stages of development may react when they encounter a conflict situation – and the challenges they will face when working together with others who may be at a different level of development. I can see how this knowledge can help a consultant or mediator to understand where people are coming from and to be able to help the group to see the value that each level can provide to a team.

In both cases the preliminary knowledge I have gained during the STIA 2014 conference on Polarity Mapping and the Adult Development model have great potential as tools to add to the toolbox. I can also see some significant risk of trying to use these tools before I have the depth of knowledge to be able to understand the subtleties and nuances that are not covered in these ‘teaser’ training sessions… so more training required!! But I look forward to being ready, in the future, to using these tools with client groups – and hopefully avoiding the rookie mistakes that lurk in any new process and that can trap the unprepared and the unwary! Thank you to Beena and Cliff for the introduction to some useful, practical tools...

Ruth Sirman
CanMediate International


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