Training and Coaching in Negotiation and Mediation: It’s a Wrap!

Conflict Managers of Tomorrow – online negotiation and mediation training.

After completing the preparation course “Training and Coaching in Negotiation and Mediation”, UniTN students participating in the Conflict Managers of Tomorrow project (“CMT”) are now ready to compete in international negotiation and mediation competitions.

As a traveling team member of the ICC Mediation Competition team, I am really looking forward to testing the skills I acquired during the training. Not only am I excited to meet – and face – students and professionals from all over the world, but I am also extremely proud of being part of the first online edition of the Competition. Online mediation is the future!

~ Alberto Bason, International Mediation Team

In compliance with Covid-19 protocols, the training took place entirely online. This was undoubtedly challenging, but coaches and students quickly adapted to the new environment to make the most of the learning experience.

At first, I thought that engaging in simulations behind the screen would have deprived us of many important aspects of negotiation and mediation – such as setup, empathy, body language, etc. – and I was very skeptical. Then, during the training, I realized that those obstacles could be overcome through good preparation and a bit of effort. By the end of the training, simulations and feedback conversations had become engaging as if we were all sitting around the same table!

~ Giulio Catalani, International Negotiation Team

Before starting the training, I was doubtful about the online format of the training not only because I thought it would make it harder to learn how mediation works, but also because it would make it more difficult to interact with the other members of the team. In the end, however, it turned out to be a great experience: a thorough preparation and the exchange of feedback between team members and the coaches prepared us for online competitions, allowed us to work together as a team and, above all, to have fun!

~ Carolina Battistella, International Mediation Team

Training online enabled students to get acquainted with videoconferencing applications and tools. This will certainly be an asset for the teams, as all competitions scheduled during the current academic year will be held online.

Despite my initial skepticism, I believe that the online training allowed us to delve into mediation from a different perspective and taught us to pay attention to numerous details we would otherwise have neglected because they might have been taken for granted, approached differently, or simply because they are not relevant in face-to-face settings. For instance, we learned how to cope with technical problems and to dedicate particular attention to body language, which is more likely to be underestimated in online environments. Overall, it was challenging. Nevertheless, we became more familiar with videoconferencing platforms and learned how to use online tools to effectively manage the process.

~ Alberto Rocco, Italian and International Mediation Team

After six weeks of intensive but extremely rewarding training, not only do I feel excited about the upcoming competition but also confident. I was doubtful about the effectiveness of this new approach to mediation and negotiation, since sitting behind a screen makes it harder to efficiently convey your emotions to the other party. However, after the first weeks, thanks to our coaches and the commitment and hard work of our teams, I soon realized that even though role-plays were hard, they were definitely within our capabilities. This experience allowed us to better understand the dynamics of online mediation and how to strategically use the various tools at our disposal. We learned how to perform and communicate as effectively as we would have done in an in-person competition. Overall, this experience was a great lesson, since I truly believe that we were offered the opportunity to familiarize and work with a tool that will be widely used in the future.

~ Nicoleta Sendrea, International Negotiation Team

During the six-week training, students engaged in several mock mediations and experienced different simulation modalities, ranging from fishbowl exercises to co-mediations.

We had the possibility to act as parties, mediators or co-mediators, and attorneys. Taking part in the role-plays was extremely useful. Personally, I gained a deeper understanding of the roles I felt more confident in performing and the ones I needed to put more effort into. But in general, we for sure learned how to build a team strategy and how to manage feedback, opinions, and appreciation.

~ Sofia Falcone, International Mediation Team

Playing different roles was key to the success of the training since it gave us the opportunity to constantly challenge ourselves. I feel that having the chance to act as client, mediator, and attorney gave me a deeper insight into what mediation and negotiation really are. What is more, the various simulation modalities helped us understand how to develop the best strategy on different occasions and the importance of teamwork both during the preparation and simulation phases.

~ Silvia Barbati, International Mediation Team

During the past six weeks, every Friday we were asked to perform a different role in mediation. This allowed us to see through the eyes of every actor at the mediation table, improving our skills and learning when it is appropriate to intervene and when it is not. The fishbowl modality taught us to think fast and to be flexible, reminding us that even a solid strategy needs to be adapted to unforeseen situations. The practical approach and the different simulation modalities allowed us to constantly improve and better understand mediation and negotiation techniques.

~ Riccardo Masaro, Italian and International Mediation Team

Through learning-by-doing, feedback, and self-reflection students developed a deeper understanding of ADR processes and acquired a solid set of practical skills in the field.

I really valued and appreciated the learning-by-doing approach, it personally forced me to step outside my comfort zone and to think on the spot. I feel I learned the technical aspects of mediation and negotiation quicker and in a more efficient way. Besides, the feedback we had to give and were given enabled us to be objective about our performance and acknowledge our mistakes, but also understand what we did well. 

~ Giulia Marrama, International Mediation Team

Based on a student-centered approach, the training prompted me to move beyond the theoretical framework and proved to be an invaluable educational experience. The learning-by-doing method played a key role in our development. Applied to mediation simulations, it consisted of taking part in mock scenarios and then reflecting on our performances. It created an engaging environment and provided an opportunity for continuous improvement during the sessions as well as in the preparation phase. What I valued the most was learning from the mistakes of others and strengthening personal competencies through feedback and self-evaluation in a sort of virtuous circle.

~ Francesca Valastro, Italian and International Mediation Team

The training was highly participated, not only by current team members but also by CMT alumni. Former team members joined in as volunteers to share their expertise, facilitating and encouraging learning in the spirit of the Conflict Managers of Tomorrow project.

When Rachele and Luca told me about the possibility of volunteering and supporting the training, I felt enthusiastic about the idea! Volunteering allowed me to stay involved in such a great project, stay in touch with the friends I made through it, and give back what I learned as a team member. Further, observing the mediation process from a different perspective actually made me aware of aspects I didn’t consider as a participant. I love the idea of this never-ending learning process. This year’s team members are brilliant and motivated. I’m sure they will do a great job and make Università degli Studi di Trento even more proud of having them as students. Best of luck to all of them!

~ Marco Baio, CMT Alumnus

After my wonderful experience at the 15th ICC Mediation Competition, I volunteered to help with the training. This way, I wanted to give back to the Project, but I actually kept learning myself! This year’s team is talented and passionate about what they do. I am looking forward to seeing them compete: break a leg!

~ Daniele Isidoro, CMT Alumnus

Coaches Rachele Beretta and Luca De Rosa could benefit from the assistance of CMT alumnae and aspiring coaches Milena Mottola and Silvia Pizzo. After participating in the Online Mediation Competition and ICC Mediation Competition respectively, Milena and Silvia decided to continue their training within the CMT project as assistant coaches.

Being an assistant coach within the CMT project has been a true learning experience. Getting to understand how to deliver valuable feedback and effectively prepare students for international competitions has been challenging but fun!

~ Milena Mottola, CMT Alumna

Being part of the CMT project has been a great opportunity both from a personal and an academic point of view. Since last year, when I first joined the CMT project, I never stopped learning: first as a member of the ICC Mediation Competition team and now as an assistant coach. Preparing students for the competitions is challenging but also very rewarding in seeing how they improve along the way.

~ Silvia Pizzo, CMT Alumna

Coaches Rachele and Luca are extremely satisfied with the effort students put into the training and are looking forward to the upcoming ICC Mediation Competition, which will be the first testing ground for the team. 

Adapting the training program to the present circumstances was beyond challenging, but the effort we put into redesigning the course format paid off. Luckily, time and experience were on our side. Last Summer we had the opportunity to participate in the First Online Mediation Competition, which allowed us to gain insight into the dynamics of online competitions and understand how to possibly structure an online training program. Thanks to the input and suggestions of CMT alumni, we managed to find a suitable formula that successfully integrated theory and practice without losing the key component of interaction (it never comes easy in an online environment!). Students did a tremendous job, demonstrating great commitment and dedication at all times. I feel very proud to have facilitated their educational experience while at the same time learning from them.

~ Rachele Beretta, Negotiation and Mediation Team Coach

Back in March, after training, coaching, and competing in in-person mediation and negotiation competitions for half a decade, I had misgivings about the prospect of continuing our activities in an online environment. However, nine months into the ‘new normal’ of the online reality, thanks to a shared effort of Prof. Silvana Dalla Bonta’, CMT alumni, and – most importantly – the participating students we were able to set up and successfully conclude the training for the forthcoming competitions. I am extremely proud of our students, who made the most out of this experience not only by visibly improving their skills but also by fully embracing the peculiarities of online communication. To me, the outcome of the training is proof that – while scary at first – online venues can be a valuable alternative for dispute resolution also in a post-Covid world.

~ Luca De Rosa, Negotiation and Mediation Team Coach

Prof. Silvana Dalla Bontà, Project Founder and Coordinator, expressed her satisfaction regarding the outcome of the training and was greatly impressed with the students’ progress throughout the course.

Right from the start of the Conflict Managers of Tomorrow Project, I have strongly supported the coaching and training of students in mediation and negotiation. Based on my teaching experience in the field of ADR, I am absolutely convinced that mock mediations are the best way to make students understand how mediation works. Given the current situation and social distancing rules, role-plays and simulations had to be organized online. This was a great challenge, but coaches and students reacted quickly and faced it. They have shown to be able to adapt to the new context. On the one hand, Rachele and Luca were able to rethink their excellent coaching method and adjust it to the online environment. They also involved former participants in mediation competitions (Milena, Silvia, Marco, and Daniele), who not only gave their precious support to the training but also learned from this new experience. 
On the other hand, students demonstrated a remarkable commitment to learning key mediation and negotiation skills. Their progress was visible day after day.
In conclusion, I must say that I am really proud of what the coaches, students, and volunteers accomplished. I have no doubts: they will succeed in competitions as well as in their professional life!

~ Prof. Silvana Dalla Bontà, CMT project Founder and Coordinator

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