Emily de Schweinitz Taylor is an alumna of the Communication Management program and recently published a book titled Raising Mediators: How Smart Parents Use Mediation to Transform Sibling Conflict and Empower Their Children. We asked Emily about her professional background, experience at University College, and the publishing process.
Tell us about your current role as a mediator. What is your favorite aspect of your work?
While I am a certified Colorado mediator, I still have much to learn to expand my professional experience with mediation. I volunteer intermittently with the Jefferson County Mediation Program and incorporated my own business, Em Taylor Communications, LLC, to help others as a private consultant to resolve conflict through mediation, conflict coaching, and communications training.
Since my 2015 graduation, I have been primarily focused on writing my first book and applying parent-led mediation principles in my home. Every day, I have the opportunity to apply mediation principles with my five children, my spouse, neighbors, friends, and associates.
My favorite aspect of mediation is the opportunity to help people learn to see from another person’s perspective. Through specific mediation skills and processes, mediators help facilitate this expansion of perspectives. It’s amazing when people begin to empathize with and relate to each other after periods of misunderstanding and intense negative feelings. How needed these skills are in our society today!
What motivated you to get your master’s degree?
At one political meeting I helped host for ministers from the Asian Pacific Economic Cooperation, (APEC), whose members come from 21 different countries, I began to realize that I wanted the skills that would help people from diverse backgrounds and cultures to understand and work well with each other. I did not yet know about mediation, but the seeds of desire to learn about conflict resolution were planted.
Following a period of searching for the right master’s program, I realized that the University of Denver had a program that would accommodate my considerable responsibilities as a full-time mom of five young children who were 3-9 years old when I started. As I paced myself through the master’s program, I was able to apply what I learned at home and in the community.
While I began my master’s degree at the University College with international conflict resolution in mind, I soon realized that it’s best for people to learn to cooperate, empathize, and problem solve when they are very young. Rather than retrain adults to get along with each other, how much better to teach children these skills so that all of their relationships at home, work, and in the community, reflect respect, understanding, and cooperation from their earliest days.
What experiences in your graduate program have you been able to apply to your career?
Despite my love of academic research, I appreciated the opportunity to learn directly from my professors who were largely practitioners in the conflict resolution field. Rather than just learn about conflict resolution, I had the opportunity to learn how help others resolve conflict in a practical sense. I took the mediation practicum course but followed that up with a private training on conflict coaching. Those practical experiences provided the confidence that I could actually help people work through a specific conflict rather than just talk to someone about the research available.
When did you realize you could use your capstone as a foundation for your book, Raising Mediators: How Smart Parents Use Mediation to Transform Sibling Conflict and Empower Their Children?
As far as back as 2013, when I first encountered much of the parent-led mediation research, I knew that I wanted to write a book after I graduated. With sibling conflict being one of the main stresses on parents in most homes throughout the Western hemisphere, I felt a responsibility to bring the academic knowledge to ordinary parents trying their best to teach their children how to get along.
Fortunately, I had two more years of study following that realization that allowed me to continue researching the topic and recording experiences to include in Raising Mediators. I cannot emphasize enough how valuable it is to have access to cutting-edge modern research that can truly change people’s lives.
As my studies progressed, I fine-tuned my ideas and felt very prepared to write the book when I graduated. I basically wrote the first full manuscript from January to June of 2016 after I graduated. I then hired an editor, proofreader, book cover designer, and formatter to help prepare my book for publishing on Amazon’s Create Space and Kindle, along with Ingram Spark.
What advice would you have for someone wanting to work in the field of mediation?
I have two pieces of advice. First, perhaps through some trial and error, I would find the area of mediation or conflict resolution that appeals most to you. While I prefer focusing on the preventive side of mediation with communications training, another person may be very skilled in circumventing litigation cases in a courthouse setting. Because there are such varied applications of mediation, take the time to figure out what is the best fit for you and provides the lifestyle you need to move forward in your life.
My second piece of advice is to seek out the experience you need to be successful. While I still have much to learn in the field of mediation, immediately following my master’s I took creative non-fiction writing courses through another university to prepare for writing my book. I also attended a self-publishing conference that gave me the confidence to go ahead with my dreams. I had always dreamed of writing a book but wondered if I would really do it.
Now that I have written my first book, I want to keep meeting new challenges and dreams. I imagine that each person has a contribution to make in society, especially in this critical field of conflict resolution.
Emily de Schweinitz is a certified Colorado mediator and the owner of Em Taylor Communications, LLC, Collaborative Book Works, and Raising Mediators. You can find her book Raising Mediators: How Smart Parents Use Mediation to Transform Sibling Conflict and Empower Their Children at Amazon.