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Narrative Mediation

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Title: "Narrative Threads: Weaving Through Conflict"

Narrative Mediation is a transformative approach to conflict resolution that emerged from the integration of narrative ideas and mediation practices. Developed by John Winslade and Gerald Monk, this approach has become a cornerstone in modern-day conflict resolution strategies, especially amidst the evolving social and technological landscapes. The core guiding principles of Narrative Mediation include understanding individuals' stories, recognizing the influence of broader societal narratives, and co-constructing new, empowering narratives to resolve conflicts. Rooted in the broader conceptual tradition of social constructionism and narrative therapy, Narrative Mediation provides an operational framework for addressing conflicts in a manner that honors individuals' experiences and fosters mutual understanding and collaboration. It encapsulates a process of externalizing issues, exploring the dominant and alternative narratives, and co-creating new narratives that promote resolution and positive change. By engaging with the content below, you are embarking on a journey to delve into the rich tapestry of Narrative Mediation, understanding its foundational principles, and exploring its application in real-world scenarios.


Narrative Mediation provides a plethora of benefits, crucial for navigating the complex realm of interpersonal and organizational conflicts. Some notable benefits include:

  • Enhanced Understanding: It facilitates a deeper understanding of conflicts by exploring the underlying narratives and their implications.

  • Empowerment: Empowers individuals by helping them re-author their stories in a manner that aligns with their values and preferred outcomes.

  • Collaborative Resolution: Promotes collaborative resolution by fostering mutual understanding and co-creating new narratives.

  • Dignity and Respect: Ensures dignity and respect by honoring individuals’ experiences and voices in the mediation process.

  • Long-term Relationships: Contributes to the development and maintenance of constructive long-term relationships by addressing conflicts in a meaningful and transformative manner.

When to use

Narrative Mediation is a versatile tool applicable to a variety of conflict scenarios. Here are some contexts where it proves to be invaluable:

  • Interpersonal Conflicts: When conflicts arise between individuals, be it in personal or professional settings, exploring the narratives underlying the conflict.

  • Group Conflicts: In scenarios where groups or teams experience conflicts, Narrative Mediation aids in unraveling the collective narratives and fostering a collaborative resolution.

  • Organizational Conflicts: When addressing organizational-level conflicts, it provides a framework for understanding the broader narratives at play and working towards constructive solutions.

  • Community Disputes: It is also applicable in community disputes, aiding in understanding the diverse narratives within the community and working towards harmonious resolutions.

Case Examples

  1. Healthcare: Enhancing Collaborative Practice

Title: "Healing Narratives: Fostering Collaboration in a Healthcare Setting"

In a healthcare facility, tensions arose between medical staff due to differing opinions on patient care protocols. Through Narrative Mediation, the conflicting parties explored the narratives underlying their disagreements, gaining a deeper understanding of each other’s perspectives. By co-creating a new narrative around collaborative practice, they were able to develop mutually agreeable protocols, enhancing patient care and team cohesion.

  1. Technology: Navigating Change Resistance

Title: "Re-scripting Change: Navigating Resistance in a Tech Firm"

A tech firm faced resistance from a segment of its workforce during a period of significant technological change. Engaging in Narrative Mediation, the conflicting groups explored the narratives around change, fear, and innovation. Through a process of re-authoring these narratives, they developed a shared story of embracing change while honoring the concerns and contributions of all involved, leading to a smoother transition process.

  1. Non-Profit: Bridging Cultural Differences

Title: "Harmonizing Narratives: Bridging Cultural Differences in a Non-Profit Organization"

A non-profit organization working with diverse communities encountered conflicts arising from cultural misunderstandings. Narrative Mediation facilitated a process of exploring and honoring the diverse cultural narratives within the organization and the communities served. By co-creating a narrative of mutual respect and learning, they fostered a more inclusive and culturally sensitive organizational culture.

How to introduce Narrative Mediation

Introducing Narrative Mediation within an organization or a community requires a thoughtful and respectful approach. Here are some steps to ensure a smooth introduction:

  1. Educational Sessions: Conduct educational sessions to explain the principles and process of Narrative Mediation, emphasizing its benefits in resolving conflicts and fostering mutual understanding.

  2. Demonstration: Offer demonstrations or mock mediation sessions to provide a practical understanding of how Narrative Mediation operates.

  3. Open Discussions: Facilitate open discussions allowing individuals to express their concerns, ask questions, and explore how Narrative Mediation can be tailored to meet the specific needs of the context.

  4. Training: Provide training for individuals interested in becoming narrative mediators, ensuring they have the skills and understanding necessary to facilitate the process effectively.

  5. Support: Ensure ongoing support and supervision for narrative mediators, fostering a community of practice that encourages continuous learning and reflection.

Sample Introduction Script

"Welcome everyone. Today, we are introducing a powerful approach to conflict resolution known as Narrative Mediation. This approach recognizes that our experiences and interactions are shaped by the stories we tell ourselves and each other. When conflicts arise, it's often due to clashing narratives. Narrative Mediation provides a space for us to explore these narratives, understand each other better, and work together to create new stories that lead to resolution and positive change. Through this process, we are not only addressing the immediate conflict, but also fostering a culture of mutual respect, understanding, and collaborative problem-solving. So, let's embark on this journey of exploring and transforming our narratives, as we work towards creating a harmonious and productive environment."

Helpful Facilitator Questions

  1. What stories or narratives do you think are influencing the current conflict or situation?

  2. How might different individuals or groups be interpreting this situation differently, based on their own experiences or cultural backgrounds?

  3. What new stories or narratives could we create together that might lead to a resolution or a more constructive way of interacting?

  4. How can we honor the diverse perspectives and experiences present in this situation as we work towards a resolution?

  5. What steps can we take to ensure that our new narratives are understood and embraced by all involved?

Challenges you may Face

Introducing Narrative Mediation can present challenges such as resistance to exploring personal or collective narratives, concerns about the time and effort required, or doubts regarding the effectiveness of the approach. Providing clear information, demonstrating the benefits through success stories, and ensuring a respectful and supportive process can help mitigate these challenges.

  1. Resistance: Address resistance by creating a safe, respectful environment that honors individuals’ experiences and narratives.

  2. Time and Effort Concerns: Highlight the long-term benefits of Narrative Mediation in preventing recurring conflicts and fostering constructive relationships.

  3. Effectiveness Doubts: Share success stories and research evidence demonstrating the effectiveness of Narrative Mediation in resolving conflicts and promoting positive change.

Related Theories

  1. Social Constructionism (Kenneth Gergen): Social Constructionism explores how our understandings of reality are constructed through social interactions, a foundational principle for Narrative Mediation.

  2. Narrative Therapy (Michael White and David Epston): Narrative Therapy, with its focus on re-authoring personal narratives, provides the theoretical underpinning for Narrative Mediation.

  3. Conflict Transformation (John Paul Lederach): Conflict Transformation theory emphasizes the importance of addressing the underlying issues and relationships in conflicts, aligning with the goals of Narrative Mediation.


  1. How has engaging in Narrative Mediation shifted your understanding or approach to conflict?

  2. What insights have you gained about the power of narratives in shaping our experiences and interactions?

  3. How might the principles of Narrative Mediation be applied to other areas of your personal or professional life?


  1. What are the long-term impacts of engaging in Narrative Mediation on individuals’ conflict resolution skills and relationships?

  2. How might Narrative Mediation be adapted to different cultural or organizational contexts, and what are the implications of such adaptations?

  3. What are the key factors that contribute to the effectiveness of Narrative Mediation in resolving conflicts and promoting positive change?


  1. "Narrative Mediation: A New Approach to Conflict Resolution" by John Winslade and Gerald Monk: This seminal book provides a comprehensive guide to the principles and practices of Narrative Mediation.

  2. "The Narrative Mediation Model" by Sara Cobb: Cobb delves into the model of Narrative Mediation, exploring its application in various conflict scenarios.

  3. "Re-authoring Teaching: Creating a Collaboratory" by Peggy Sax: While not exclusively on mediation, this book explores the principles of re-authoring narratives in educational settings, offering valuable insights for narrative mediators.


Narrative Mediation presents a humane, respectful, and transformative approach to conflict resolution. By delving into the stories that shape our experiences and interactions, it provides a pathway for individuals and groups to move beyond conflicts towards a landscape of mutual understanding, respect, and collaborative problem-solving. This guide has unpacked the rich theoretical and practical landscape of Narrative Mediation, offering a doorway into a realm of constructive conflict resolution and positive change. As you embrace the principles and practices of Narrative Mediation, you are not only addressing conflicts but also fostering a culture of dialogue, respect, and collaborative engagement.

OD Application

Harnessing the Power of the Narrative Mediation Approach in Organizational Development

In the intricate fabric of organizational interactions, disputes and conflicts are inevitable. The ways in which organizations navigate these challenges determine not only the resolution of the immediate issue but also the long-term health and cohesiveness of the organizational culture. The Narrative Mediation Approach, rooted deeply in the realms of narrative theory and constructivist epistemology, offers a unique perspective on conflict resolution. By framing disputes as competing narratives and focusing on reshaping these narratives, this approach transcends traditional problem-solving methods to pave the way for deeper understanding and sustainable resolutions.

The Narrative Mediation Approach as a Change Intervention

The Narrative Mediation Approach is centered on the idea that individuals interpret their experiences and shape their realities through stories. Conflicts arise when these stories clash, leading to differing interpretations and perceptions of events. The mediator's role is to help parties unravel these narratives, understand underlying themes, and co-construct a new shared narrative that offers a harmonious way forward.

Well-being Impacts:

  1. Organizational Culture: Implementing narrative mediation nurtures a culture of understanding and empathy. By emphasizing the importance of everyone's stories, it fosters an environment where diverse perspectives are valued and respected.

  2. Social Psychology: Narrative mediation impacts the social fabric of the organization. As individuals feel heard and validated, the trust quotient within teams and between departments escalates.

  3. Ethical Decision Making: By focusing on the nuances of individual narratives, this approach ensures that ethical considerations are central to the mediation process. This ensures decisions are grounded in fairness and moral integrity.

  4. DE&I: Narrative mediation inherently champions diversity, equity, and inclusion. By giving voice to diverse narratives and ensuring they are woven into the organizational tapestry, it paves the way for an inclusive organizational culture.

Prosperity Impacts:

  1. Organizational Design: As the approach promotes collaborative dialogue, it can lead to the organic evolution of structures and processes that are more attuned to the needs and aspirations of its members.

  2. Organizational Strategy: A cohesive narrative can inform and guide strategy, ensuring it resonates with the collective aspirations of the organization.

  3. Organizational Performance: Teams that resolve conflicts efficiently and cohesively are more productive, innovative, and aligned with organizational objectives.

Guidelines for Determining the Right Fit

For OD consultants contemplating the Narrative Mediation Approach:

  1. Assess the Nature of Conflict: Is the conflict rooted in differing interpretations or perceptions? Does it involve deeply held beliefs or values?

  2. Evaluate Organizational Openness: Is the organizational culture open to introspection and understanding diverse narratives?

  3. Understand the Depth of the Dispute: Narrative mediation is particularly potent for conflicts that are deeply entrenched and not just superficial disagreements.

Presenting Challenges Indicating the Approach's Suitability

  1. Persistent Conflicts: If certain conflicts recur despite traditional resolution methods, it indicates deeper narrative disparities that this approach can address.

  2. Cultural or Value-based Disputes: Disagreements rooted in cultural differences or value systems can benefit from narrative exploration.

  3. Interdepartmental Dissonance: When departments or teams have differing views on organizational events or strategies, narrative mediation can help align these perspectives.

Tailoring and Facilitating for Sustainable Change

  1. Provide a Safe Space: Ensure that the mediation environment allows all parties to freely share their narratives without fear of judgment or retribution.

  2. Empower All Voices: Ensure that every participant has an equal opportunity to share their story and perspective.

  3. Co-create the New Narrative: Facilitate a collaborative process where all parties contribute to shaping a shared, forward-looking narrative.

Observing Impact at Various Levels

  1. Individual Level: Post-mediation, individuals should feel validated, understood, and more aligned with the collective organizational narrative.

  2. Team Level: Teams should display increased cohesion, reduced internal conflicts, and a higher degree of collaborative functioning.

  3. Organizational Level: The organization should witness fewer recurring conflicts, a more inclusive culture, and strategies that resonate with the collective narrative.

In the vast domain of organizational development, the Narrative Mediation Approach stands out as a beacon of hope for sustainable conflict resolution. It goes beyond merely solving the problem at hand and delves deep into the stories that shape perceptions, beliefs, and actions. By understanding and reshaping these narratives, organizations can not only resolve existing conflicts but also foster an environment where future disputes are approached with empathy, understanding, and a genuine desire for collaborative resolution. This not only augments organizational well-being but also paves the way for sustained prosperity. The power of narrative is immense, and when harnessed effectively, it can transform organizational landscapes, making them more harmonious, inclusive, and aligned with shared aspirations.

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