Smarter mediation, better dialogue: Lessons from a Swedish protest for local healthcare

A story on what makes mediation efforts succesful.

Case study abstract

For three years the yellow-vested activists had been peacefully protesting the closure of the maternity ward in Sollefteå Hospital in the peripheral town in Sweden. After changes in political power, the regional government finally paid attention to the protesters and invited them for a dialogue. 

The dialogue in question would ideally witness the authorities listening to all possible perspectives and creating trust for the process, while all participants are assured of the neutrality of the mediating team.

However, not in this case, as people on both sides had clear positions, expectations, and demands and there was resistance to finding a common goal. 

The mediating team initiated a conversation between limited representatives for each of the parties to identify common ground and to design a process for constructive dialogue. 

The outcomes were unsuccessful, as the politicians and government officials found conflicting positions internally and decided to continue the dialogue process internally on their own terms, while excluding protestors and other interested parties. 

This case demonstrates that excluding different stakeholders, ignoring people’s voices, and hindering empowerment of collective thinking impede solving the problems and conflict in society. While on the other hand, listening to each other, thinking together, good preparation, and collaborating attitudes can lead to collective intelligence for smarter solutions of public concern.

Read the full case study “Smarter mediation, better dialogue: Lessons from a Swedish protest for local healthcare”

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