Mediation in Australian Survivor
This may come as a surprise to you; although Jonathan LaPaglia has no apparent qualifications in mediation, he does outshine as the host (a mediator at tribal council) of the Australian Survivor series.
Survivor in a nutshell.
Survivor has 24 people (makes up 3 tribes of 8 people) on an island (Samoa) and after 55 days, through a series of challenges and voting each other out, only 1 survives and wins the total prize money of $500,000.00. The 24 people work together and also against each other. A tribe ends up in tribal council after losing a group challenge, and the member with the most votes on the night is voted out.
What does this have to do with mediation you ask?
So let’s review Survivor from a mediator’s perspective. A tribe ends up in tribal council who are now at conflict because a decision needs to be made on who to vote out and also who to trust? It isn’t so simple because alliances are formed as well as good friendships at times. In other words, everyone is trying to work with the others to win challenges and avoid elimination while at the same time not sure who they can trust and whether what they are being told is true. Sound familiar?
In mediation, there is an intake interview that the mediator holds with each party before mediation. That gives the mediator a greater understanding of what is motivating the parties to the mediation, their needs and what they hope to gain. In Survivor, the cameras are on 24 hours 7 days a week. Jonathan is aware what is going on at each tribe, especially before they meet at tribal council. So this is Jonathan’s intake and now he facilitates the conversation prior to voting.
At tribal council, Jonathan hones in on the issues that the tribe is facing, as he is already aware of what conversations have happened prior. In mediation, at the start we ask each party to state why they are at mediation. At this stage, I ask relevant questions to bring out the core issues and emotions. Through the questions I ask, and without divulging confidential information, I help the parties to share useful information and clear up misunderstandings.
This is where Jonathon just shines as a mediator. He asks every member of the tribe about how they feel, what has happened that makes them feel this way? Why does he do this?? It’s an important part of helping people to see other people’s perspective, called reframing. If you watch closely, Jonathan does this very cleverly. “So let me get this, what you are telling me is?” And goes on. He also goes on to explore the what if’s in conversation assisting people to consider alternatives.
These are all the traits and qualities of an excellent mediator.
And the best thing is; the others have to listen!