Reaching Unconscious Competence as a Mediator

Intuitionism defines the competence level that I have been trying to shed a light on the path which the participants of mediation training should follow. This stage is directly related to the stages of direct learning and it is also last threshold that must be passed. As defined in a number of practice books, intuition is fundamental while practicing mediation methods. In other words, there is no definite border about which method should be practiced before or after another method. There is transitivity even in the stages of mediation which are taught as structured methods. Stages cannot be separated from each other with definite borders. Due to this reason, in order to reach intuitive level, or in other words “unconscious competence” in mediation, one should pass through different stages of mediation training and practice. These stages are as follows:

  • Unconscious incompetence
  • Conscious incompetence
  • Conscious competence
  • Unconscious competence

Unconscious incompetence participant of mediation training

At this stage, training participant is enrolled in the mediation training but has no considerable knowledge about mediation. Consequently, the participant is not capable of using knowledge. As frequently witnessed, the participant even shows the tendency to mix mediation with arbitration that he already knew or any other Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) methods. Some participants believe that mediator might make a decision whilst some others begin their training with the belief that they could impose their own solution suggestions to the parties. At this stage, it might be necessary for the trainer to help participants to overcome this wrong prejudice.

Conscious incompetence mediator

Conscious incompetence is a stage which is expected to be reached after the mediation training. Participant needs additional practice that could reinforce the knowledge acquired during intensive training in order to complete this stage. Conscious incompetence is a stage when the mediator having knowledge about mediation could not use this knowledge, yet. Assessments carried out in order to become accredited to certain organizations provide an important motivation about raising consciousness about mediation.

Conscious competence mediator

At conscious competence stage, mediator is aware of his mediation knowledge and skills and he is capable of using this knowledge. However, he cannot rapidly, or in other words automatically, decide which mediation knowledge or skill should be used. He is like a child who has not memorized the multiplication table and has to add all the multipliers to make a calculation. Moreover, as the mediator lacks short cuts and habits concerning mediation process in this stage, he has to make mental reasoning and be more careful. This is extremely tiresome stage. Mediator can see what parties intended to do and the stage they reached but he would need 1-2 minutes of thinking before asking the question needed in order to assist parties to take a step forward. This is because he has mediation knowledge but lacks experience. He is obliged to think constantly; He should avoid making mistakes, observe parties and keep his stance while he keeps thinking. Mediator who becomes successful during accreditation assessment also passes the conscious competence stage.

Unconscious competence mediator

A mediator who is in the unconscious competence stage is aware of his knowledge and skills about mediation and uses them automatically without thinking too much. At this stage, mediator does not think too much when using or displaying his knowledge and skills and while deciding what skill he would use, makes decision in a short period of time and directly performs his knowledge and skills. For instance, a mediator at this stage does not show too much mental activity about what would his next question would be, he refers the next suitable question in its natural course during a natural conversation and observes the impact of this question. He is like a good speaker who does not need to think his next word and sentence to explain the ideas in his mind. Most important advantage of this stage is the fact that his work would be less tiresome when compared to a mediator at conscious incompetence. Due to this reason, he would have the opportunity to use his brain resources for processing every data coming parties more carefully. Under these circumstances, he would be able to easily observe and manage many things at once. At this stage, no matter how dynamic the mediation is, the mediation would become a process easily manageable by using average mental activity. Mediator’s transition from conscious incompetence to unconscious competence results in considerable increase in the quality of mediation services.

Disadvantages of reaching unconscious competence

Despite the comforts of unconscious competence as I mentioned above, it also has some disadvantages. Most important of these disadvantages is failure in time that might be experienced in conscious that forms the basis of unconscious competence. He might adopt habits that are against the basic principles of mediation and start practicing them unconsciously. In such case, as he strips off mediation conscious to a certain degree or when it is not exactly the case but he neglects the bad habits he adopted, then the unconscious competence level turns into a disadvantage and without noticing at all, mentioned mediator returns to “unconscious incompetence” stage due to this habit. In order to avoid such situation, mediators should review themselves from time to time under the guidance of experienced trainers.


Yazının Türkçe versiyonu için: Arabuluculukta bilinçsiz yeterliliğe ulaşmak

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Avukat, Arabulucu Şamil Demir (LL.M, MCIArb) 1976 Yılında Ankara’ da doğmuştur. 1997 yılında Anadolu Üniversitesi Hukuk Fakültesinden, 2011 yılında Başkent Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Özel Hukuk yüksek lisans programından mezun olmuştur. Halen Çankaya Üniversitesi Sosyal Bilimler Enstitüsü Özel Hukuk Ana Bilim Dalında doktora çalışmalarına devam etmektedir. 1998 yılından bu yana Ankara Barosuna kayıtlı olarak serbest avukatlık yapmaktadır. 14.11.2013 tarihinden bu yana Adalet Bakanlığı Arabuluculuk Siciline kayıtlı arabulucudur. İngilizce bilmektedir. Evli, bir çocuk babasıdır. Şamil Demir, şu kurumlara üye ve akreditedir: - Ankara Barosu (Sicil No: 13560) Türkiye Barolar Birliği (Sicil No: 43868) - Adalet Bakanlığı HİGM Arabuluculuk Daire Başkanlığı (Sicil No: 0002) - Alternatif Uyuşmazlık Çözümleri Derneği (Başkan) - Chartered Institute of Arbitrators (MCIArb, Mediator Member: 36195) - International Mediation Institute, Certified Mediator Mediators Beyond - Borders International, Member World Mediation Organization, Fellow

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