Most of us try to avoid conflict. It portends confrontation, is uncomfortable at best, and is horribly violent at worst. What if SOME of the conflicts you have could be productive and leave you feeling relieved? I have an idea.
Even though we try to avoid conflict, we experience it every day. Around the globe, at work, in the boardroom, among family members. Here are some tools to use to resolve conflict constructively. You may be familiar with them, but I offer a simple approach, even a handy list at the end.
Resolution can provide the relief and personal calm we all crave. You have to recognize two things: (1) try as you might, you cannot control others, and (2) you can control your own perspective, reactions, and anger.
I will tell you the four words, but not yet.
mediator who “‘is exceptionally committed to striking a balance between opposing parties,’ as demonstrated by ‘her refusal to act as anyone’s cheerleader, her ability nonetheless to build positive relationships with all sides, and her dedication to following up until a resolution has been reached.'”
Mediation is a human-centered process of resolution. Whether the party is a giant corporation or a single individual, problems arise and are resolved through people. The emotional connections, relationships, and trust that are the basis for any deal usually demand in-person contacts.
But this is 2020, and business has decentralized, internationalized, and exploded into the “cloud.” People enjoy new freedom to work remotely from anywhere. Business travel is expensive and time-consuming.
We have been using technology in mediation for a long time. Briefs are mostly e-mailed. Large exhibits are shared through cloud storage services like Dropbox. Participants bring PowerPoint presentations on flash drives. Settlement agreements are generated, transmitted, and often signed electronically. So far this is the technical end of the mediation. What about the vital human connections that make or break the process?
The Chinese Lunar New Year begins on January 25, 2020. This is a Year of the Rat. As the first animal in the Chinese zodiac, the Rat is associated with cleverness, success, energy, wealth, wellness, and overall renewal.
You might see this as a great year to really bring your New Year’s Resolutions to fruition. I think it is a great year to rethink your approach to mediation. These days, mediation looks more and more like litigation, the risky, adversarial alternative that mediation is intended to avoid.
In the world of 2020, “preparedness” for the risks of damage from natural, technological, and political disasters is at the forefront of many people’s minds. Preparedness is about being ready to withstand attack or adversity. Preparation includes things people do to get ready. Being “prepared” for mediation requires doing a lot of things and being ready for the adversity participants will have to contend with in negotiations.
I just returned from the 15th ICC International Commercial Mediation Competition among law and business students from around the world. Held each February in Paris, it is a mediation negotiation and advocacy tournament in which teams of two students serving as client and attorney try to “win” the mediation session and advance until the remaining two teams face off in the final “match.” The scoring is based on criteria including effective Opening Statements, Advancing Your Interests, Teamwork between Counsel and Client, Information Gathering and Ascertaining the Other Party’s Interests, Seeking to Collaborate with the Other Party, Working Together to Develop Options, and Making Good Use of the Mediator.
The new section requires attorneys and their clients to sign a printed disclosure of mediation confidentiality restrictions, including the fact that even private attorney-client communications cannot be used if the clients sue for malpractice. While this new “consumer awareness” law imposes an uncomfortable burden on attorneys, it hits a home run in protecting clients, protecting attorneys, and upholding California’s commitment to strict confidentiality in mediation.
You can download a Word version of the required disclosure form from the Procedures page of this website by clicking here.
On May 30, 2019 I enjoyed the great honor of being inducted into the International Academy of Mediators. Click here to read the announcement. When the best in the world think you’re a valuable contributor to the profession, the feeling of gratitude and confidence in what I do is profound. There is nothing better than being accepted and celebrated by those who set the highest bar.
On April 18, 2018, the Daily Journal published my article comparing the forces of destruction and creation in the 856-year history of Notre Dame to similar forces in the cycles of litigation and mediation, and in the ways that advocates participate in the processes. Click here for the online version or download the PDF version.