Building emotional intelligence: a grid for practitioners

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Mediators have shown great ambivalence about emotions, with practice lurching between intrusive fascination (“How does that make you feel?”) and denial (one prominent pioneer describing emotional information as “not useful”). Emotions are also physical, and mediation has also proved itself less than comfortable with the physical dimensions of human interaction. The classic model involves sitting, talking and thinking – “mediating from the neck up.” And yet all know the visceral effect of conflict. Bodies matter: “Our evaluations of the world … rely on a seamless calibration of feelings and thoughts. Body and mind are equally implicated”

The chapter explores three key ideas:
1) The relationship between cognition and emotion in perception
2) The importance of a range of emotions, starting with anger, in contributing to conflict
3) The potential for emotional self-regulation to be harnessed and supported by mediators

It goes on to set out the “emotion grid”, a simple heuristic with twin poles of volume and intensity, designed to support conflict resolution practitioners in:
1) developing cultural fluency
2) plotting the flow of emotions over time
3) developing mediator practice through self-reflection
4) helping clients build their capacity for emotional self-regulation.

This chapter emerged from “Dancing at the Crossroads”, an innovative conference led by Michelle LeBaron and Margie Gillis (one of Canada’s best known contemporary dancers). Conflict resolution practitioners and artists from across the world gathered in Switzerland in the summer of 2013 to engage in an imaginative experiment in creativity and physicality, culminating in the publication of “The Choreography of Resolution: Conflict, Movement, and Neuroscience.” The “emotion grid” was one of the products of that week.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationThe Choreography of Resolution
Subtitle of host publicationConflict, Movement, and Neuroscience
EditorsMichelle LeBaron, Carrie MacLeod, Andrew Acland
Place of PublicationChicago, IL
PublisherAmerican Bar Association
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781627221375
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • mediation
  • conflict
  • neuroscience
  • movement
  • emotion
  • emotional self-regulation
  • dance
  • conflict resolution


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