September 26, 2018

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Mediation and Concilliation

There is a lot to learn from Japan. For example, studies show that adopting minimalism in day to day life and style of working makes people more content and productive. Everything from the Japanese
technique of folding clothes called ‘konmari’ to their acute punctuality regularly flash on social media and give us #LifeGoals.

What makes the Japanese special? Statistically, it is said that Japan is hit by 1500 earthquakes a year on an average. In my personal experience, adversity and tough circumstances can have two extreme impact on a person- it can either swing you to the negative- sarcasm, cynicism, hopelessness, addiction, avoidance or, it can make you more resilient and teach you to think out of box.

Perhaps this is why the Japanese people think that it is important for every person to know their ‘ikigai’. According to internet sources, Ikigai means ‘that which makes life worth living’. Ikigai urges a person to pursue a purpose in their life instead of happiness. This purpose may not be something grand or extraordinary. Instead, ikigai may mean doing something mundane or commonplace to the best of one’s ability. It is linked to the concept of ‘chanto suru’ which means that things should be done properly with emphasis on process and immersion instead of the final aim. The inclusion of ikigai as a way of life is cited as a reason for the high life expectancy in Japan which is 90 to 110 years. According to author Anthony DeMello, as yourself these questions to know your‘Ikigai’:

What do you love?
What are you good at?
What can you be paid for?
What does the world need?


The concept of Ikigai can be applied widely in management and human behaviour. When you are an advocate, judge, arbitrator or mediator, being surrounded by disputes on a daily basis is an
occupational hazard. And yet when we ask ourselves ‘What is the Ikigai of a dispute?’- what answer do we get? Why do disputes happen? What is the reason for the being of a dispute? Is the answer you get this- so that a judge can decide whose fault it is that the dispute happened? So that one person can show the other person that they cannot be messed with?

We tell ourselves a story about everything every day. These stories may stem from customs, practices, culture and of course our personal experiences. With the passage of time and with the invasion of adulthood, these stories become the definite truths of our life. Same is the case with disputes. We tell ourselves that when disputes happen, we must fight or flight.

But what if we re-wired ourselves and asked instead- what is the ikigai of the dispute and instead found synergies, bridges, gaps in our existing processes and opportunities to grow and expand?

Author Info

Kritika Krishnamurthy

External Advisor

Centre for Mediation and Conciliation (CMC)

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