Mediation to the Rescue

As a professional and community mediator, I was pleased to read the opinion-page article ``Carter's Methods Bring Results,'' Jan. 11.

It is a welcome explanation of some aspects of mediation. What the author calls ``a theory of conflict resolution popular among some academics'' is practiced successfully, every day, in cases all over the United States.

Individuals and groups who haven't been able to reach agreement with each other must first attain some mutual respect and acknowledgement, before they can understand each other's point of view.

Once that has occurred, they can move on to negotiating with each other to create an agreement that each considers to be reasonable.

The mediator, acting as an impartial third party, doesn't take sides, and helps clients start with a clean slate so that they can work together toward a mutually acceptable situation.

The writer of the letter ``Premature Praise of Carter's Efforts,'' Jan. 17, illustrates the general lack of understanding about mediation. Power politics don't make for good relations on the international scene any more than they do in the workplace or in families. Conflicts resulting from frustration, anger, misunderstanding, and fear between individuals and organizations can often be dealt with when a trained mediator assists the parties from a new point of view. Mediated resolutions are not ``theory,'' but demonstrated fact. Mediation should no longer be seen just as an alternative to the courts. Elisabeth Seaman, Palo Alto, Calif.

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