Wayne is a dispute resolution practitioner based in Christchurch, New Zealand. He established Fleetwood Group Limited in 2002 to design restorative practices, conflict management, and dispute resolution processes for individuals and organizations. Prior to mediation, he has worked in health-related fields as a radiation therapist and public health promoter. In fact, community development and action introduced him to “the world of conflict of how things could be done differently and better.” He was drawn to mediation when he witnessed it for the first time and decided he needed to pursue such a field. He stated, “I watched a mediator in action one day and was totally enthralled at what they did and decided I needed to do that.” He stated that he could notice the techniques that the mediator was applying and all other pieces in play. He stated, “I pictured chess in my mind. I would watch the mediator and identify some of his moves.” He was intrigued about the end goal of the mediation.
The Genesis of Mediation
He is involved in coaching and supervision working with people to help prevent ongoing conflict. This entailed working with people on a 1:1 and organizational basis. He stated, “I am helping individuals recover from things that happened or help them find new and better ways of dealing with stuff and also helping organizations.” In fact, as a consultant, he provides his services to all sorts of different clients including restorative justice projects. He stated, “restorative justice process is not just helping the system deal with those problems, it is about the people coming together and being accountable to one another and this is what we do in mediation – finding opportunities to undo the harm that has happened and find a way forward.” His past mediation experiences in the employment and family settings have also been rewarding. He stated, “the concept of bringing people onto the mediation table is not something I do routinely, I do a lot of the work with the people beforehand.”
He referenced the “genesis of mediation” as communication. In settings where the manager or owner requests him to “fix” people, he stated that they become part of the people that need to take responsibility for the conflict. He further stated that when you distinguish mediators from social science and legal background, he appreciates coming from a non-legal perspective of mediation and more trauma-informed and more about the relationships and less about what the law requires. He recognized the valuable work mediators with a legal background bring forth and at the same time, he places value on those outside those circles as well. He stated, “the role of law is important, it does not always feature in the way people manage conflict. Often, we default back to what we know best, and lawyers might refer to a rights-based approach, where I would be interest-based.”
The Right Style of Mediation for the Context of the Conflict
For instance, in a dispute between co-workers; the approach may be an individual-based response yet a common group approach may be a helpful alternative. In this role, he provides insight into a common-good approach can have for the communication to improve. In fact, the communication glitch he has witnessed is the behavior coming from all parties, which he refocuses. He stated, “the work with the mediator is as a guide instead of a fixer. I say to people, ‘you might think I am coming with the answer but you already know the answer,’ I am just here to help you see it.’ ” He recognizes that trust is important in this process. In fact, for him, it sits closely with the feeling of safety. He stated, “I encourage people to be a little vulnerable and help them think about different scenarios. I do this in order for the conversation to go well, you increase the value of trust.” In this process, he highlights empathy as a key tool, which permits him to relate to people in different ways.
Wayne has known about MBBI since it was created and followed a lot of the work done by Ken Cloke. He stated, “I have wanted to also get involved with MBBI, but I do feel that it is important for me to be engaged in an international arena, to be exposed to lots of different ideas that can benefit the local environment here in new Zeeland and transfer a lot of those ideas into the international scene.” He has an MA in Conflict Transformation from the Eastern Mennonite University, Virginia as well and for him, attending University provided him more grounding. It also gave him the opportunity to meet people from all cultures. His graduate program attracts over 50 percent, overseas students, thus; he gained global perspectives along the way. He has been doing some work with a mediator in Malaysia who introduced him to another person within the MBBI community. This inspired him to get involved more closely with MBBI initiatives. In fact, he will be presenting on March 10th, 2021. He stated, “It was just a matter of joining the organization but it has lead to having great conversations and increased opportunities to share knowledge and learn new things.”
He is often reminded that we need to connect more, “we need to be connected with one another. That is how we will learn, grow, and share. I work in a commercial context so it is competitive but there is a major part of the work that we do that is not competitive. There is plenty of work for all of us. Some of the opportunities are closed and some are open. We will not know the difference until we talked with one another. I am suggesting that we just need to engage with one another.” He stated that he does not think that there is one perfect methodology or a sole path for mediation, he thinks that everyone needs to be talking to one another about “how” we learn. Through his experiences and the current pandemic, he feels like he has done one to one mediation more now which he appreciates. He stated, “it is through a crisis that we come through another side, given adversity, we can find new ways of behaving and surviving.” For him, it is seeing the transformation in a community that he values. Though it may sound wonderful, the outcome is, we need more peace rather than personal wealth.
Wayne has been awarded the 2019 Michael Klug Award by the Resolution Institute for community mediation. In 2020 he was a finalist for the New Zealand Law Awards, the mediator of the year. He stressed how he is part of the bigger community who are part of making these recognitions possible. He stated, that while he appreciates these awards, there are plenty of others who are just as deserving and feel a need to give back. When it came to recommendations for senior and junior mediators, he shared that when it comes to working with people’s emotions, you need to understand your own and understand what it is like to be in conflict thus, model good behavior. Being reflective about one’s own personality and having a good understanding of your unconscious bias, which allows one to suspend judgment.
Article by Elizabeth Gamarra, MBBI Writer