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Otherness is a concept that means the recognition of others in their differences. Incorporated in the discipline of the professional mediation, this concept implies for the mediators to develop a verbal and behavioural action that encourages a type of reflection different from a conflictual mode of reflection.


[edit] Otherness and the Mediator

The mediator must be able to use reflection as an action. He must learn "how to think about the parties in order to make them think". While usually the common way of thinking leads individuals to develop a reflection within adversity ®, the intervention of the mediator leads to a mode of reflection within otherness ®, accompanying each party toward a path desired but considered impossible and unimaginable, especially concerning the other party.

[edit] Reflection within Otherness

Otherness implies a friendly and benevolent relationship that can be associated with the cultural melting-pot concept, far from the concept of tolerance. Otherness is closely linked with the consciousness of the relationships with the others and with regard of what they are -different- and with the need to be recognized in their right of being themselves and different.

Otherness is a testimony of the understanding of the specificity of each individual or group outside standardization.

Otherness is an attitude developed in mediation, especially in intercultural contexts.

[edit] Differences between Otherness and Tolerance

Within tolerance, freedom ends where someone else’s freedom begins - justifying indifference on behalf of the idea that we should not care about others' business.

Within otherness, freedom is extended through the freedom of others, involving the consideration for others, fundamental respect and interference within situations as soon as there is violation of the human right of being how we are and each different.

[edit] Egocentric Attitude and Othercentric Attitude

Everyone lies in a behavioral scale ranging from self-centeredness to “other-centeredness” involving selfish and altruistic attitudes and behaviors.

Egocentric <====> “Othercentric”

Selfishness <====> Altruistic

Introvert <====> Extrovert

A self-centered behavior can be altruistic on behalf of its own pleasure, may the pleasure be immediate or deferred.

An "othercentric" behavior is oriented toward a third party for the pleasure of this last one. The author of this behavior does not look for his own pleasure.

The claim of othercentrism coming from the selfish individual is similar to the altruism coming from the egocentric individual: the behavior expects a return of satisfaction. The behavior of the selfish individual is like an investment.

Extraversion facilitates an othercentric behavior, while introversion expresses more easily self-centeredness and selfishness.

[edit] The three Fundamentals of Otherness

The three fundamental principles of otherness are statements and behaviors of recognition. In order to anyone to feel recognized, respected and considered, three conditions are identified:

  • Recognition of the legitimacy of personal viewpoints: ideas, concepts, values, opinions, beliefs...;
  • Recognition of the desire of each to do well, feel well and know better: initially, intrinsically, no bad thoughts and more especially an individual and intimate research of feeling and being better;
  • Recognition of the possibility of awkwardness: there may sometimes be contradictions between intention and action, gaps between perceptions or reflections.

These three elements are contrary to the risks of obstacles which nourish disputes and conflicts:

  • Interpretation, judgment, insult;
  • Negative thinking regarding others;
  • Constraining dynamic.

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