Parties to mediation blogging about the mediation should come as no surprise, on the heels of litigants blogging, as we reported here, here, and here. Now, New Zealand's Geoff Sharp at Mediator blah...blah... posts a number of blog sites he discovered where a party to mediation was writing about it, in the U.S., and in divorce matters. His comment:
My theory? I think we are seeing blogs being used as vehicles for venting.
That does not make the confidentiality issues raised any the less, but it does make sense... what do the books say to do when a party can't contain themselves at the table?...ask them to 'just write it down for the moment and we'll get to it'
In fact one of the posts has this apology tagged on to the end of it;
"Sorry for the venting but just needed to type out my frustration... I do not plan on proof reading this so may God forgive me for the wrongful things that were portrayed in this blog"
Several other mediators have posted spot on comments
Vickie Pynchon said...
I don't know what your confidentiality laws protect. Here, all mediation communications are privileged from disclosure in court or administrative proceedings. The critical question would be this: does party A waive the protection by blogging about the mediation; if so, attorneys and mediators should be warning about this type of public disclosure. I had a mediation recently where one of the parties to the SECOND mediation had blogged about the FIRST mediation. No one said anything about it (I do my homework) but now I wonder whether I should have said something to the attorneys in separate caucus to warn their clients about blogging on THIS mediation.
Tammy Lenski said...
Geoff, that is interesting. I guess we shouldn't be surprised that parties are blogging their experiences and feelings, but it's still eyebrow wrinkling to read it.
I think what I find most compelling about what you've uncovered is that those posts give us a look into thoughts that are often kept from us. It's important reading for mediators, I think...sort of a peek into the inner sanctum of parties' heads and hearts.
Thanks for searching those out.
This is great stuff to uncover as "feedback" is so difficult to get.
I am less concerned over the confidentiality aspect of the examples, than the underlying issues which seem to me that maybe we are not doing so well in uncovering "interests", if indeed a client need to vent (or to feel heard/listened to) is being ignored.
Is this because we are not "really" listening to our clients? Colm
In Part II, Geoff gives us more examples of mediation participants blogging. I think Vickie Pynchon's concern about the possibility of blogging waiving the confidentiality of mediation is a good legal point to keep in mind and Colm's observation that maybe clients who blog about mediation don't really feel heard is at the heart of what causes these participants to vent online.