Control Anger During Conflict like a Fly on the Wall
Trying to control anger by focusing on angry thoughts and hurt feelings is like fanning the flames. It’s far more effective to pretend you’re a fly on the wall of a situation, new research confirms.
Is Compromise Possible?
Any serious talk of pragmatism and compromise in American politics usually ends with some nettlesome questions: What about the social issues? What about abortion? What about gun control? These are issues on which reasonable people disagree passionately. Anyone who tells you that there is a “right” answer on abortion has not spent much time thinking about the issue or lacks the empathy to appreciate how other people think about it. Americans’ views on these issues tend to be theological — literally in many cases.
Using Mediation to Resolve Tax Disputes
Her Majesty’s Revenue & Customs (HMRC), a department of the UK Government responsible for the collection of taxes, published the results of its pilot ADR project evaluation. It has been testing a new way of resolving tax disputes, with the SMEs and individual taxpayers, since 2011.
In Mediation, Four Things Really Matter
Peter T. Coleman
Although the research on mediation is considerable and proliferating, our field still lacks a basic unifying framework which provides theoretical coherence and integrates our understanding of various research findings. Today, the research presents a piecemeal understanding of what constitutes “effective mediation” and how to achieve it.
Nice Guys Fight on a Plane
It’s the disputing, not the dispute. Interaction matters, even more than the “subject” of the dispute.
Boston, Violence, and Listening
Lee Jay Berman
We are once again in the wake of a tragedy. News outlets are filled with coverage, details are slowly emerging, and the cover of Time Magazine shows a frightened child in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombing. Many runners were running in memory of the Newtown, Connecticut victims, meeting tragedy with tragedy.
The Importance of Pre-Hearing Telephone Conferences
Jan Frankel Schau
It's not a new concept, but it always bears repeating. Prior to every mediation, I try to reach the parties to find out what they have discussed by way of settlement before the mediation.
“The Process is the Punishment”
Court delays of as long as five years in felony cases have pushed the Bronx criminal courts into the bottom ranks of courts nationally, reaching what even the judges call crisis levels.
Healthcare Collaboration: The Experience at One Hospital
At Cleveland Clinic, a patient was asked to keep a journal of all the caregivers she saw over her five-day stay. She noted eight doctors, 60 nurses and so many others she lost track. The journal didn’t even track staff from non-clinical areas – food services, parking or billing. A May 2013 Harvard Business Review article by James I. Merlino and Ananth Raman reported on the Cleveland Clinic’s effort to get everyone in the organization to start thinking like a caregiver.
Priming for Likely Range of Outcomes
Jan Frankel Schau
Sometimes the only way to strike oil is to prime the pump until it begins to flow. It takes some effort and foresight, but the result is all the more satisfying.
Filters and Frames: Mediation is all About the Viewfinder
Stephanie West Allen
Our brains are vigilant, hyperaware of any sensed change to see if it represents danger. Partly because they use a lot of our energy, our brains seek to deal with new information quickly and easily. So, rather like a photographer, the brain applies filters and frames. The filters shift, accentuate, and diminish what is seen. And the frames limit what is viewed to certain boundaries.
New Perspective on Domestic Violence and Mediation in Montana
The original Montana provisions for family court mediation, enacted in 1993, attempted to shield abuse survivors from attending mediation with their abusers. This reflected a national focus on the issue at the time. Section 40-4-301 of the Montana Code Annotated allowed courts to require any parties to participate in family law mediation. However, it made an exception for domestic violence.
AudioBlog: Transforming Difficult Decision Making In Elder Care Planning
Families today are assuming responsibility for the informal care of over 75 percent of elderly family members and are often faced with difficult decisions from a bewildering array of choices: e.g. estate planning, financial issues, and guardianship. In the best of circumstances, this can be a stressful process and sometimes leads to disagreements, confusion, and conflict at a time when the best intentions of the family are to work together for the needs of a loved and respected aging family member.
Concerted Action Includes Concerted Dispute Resolution
As interpreted by the Supreme Court, the Federal Arbitration Act has largely swept all before it, validating agreements to arbitrate almost all disputes, including those involving claims under statutes regulating the employment relation. That era may be nearing an end.
Disputes: A Clash of Imperfect Ideas
It is common in the midst of conflict that we become more assertive about our perspective – especially when the other person is equally or more assertive about hers or his. One or both of us may push our viewpoints to the extent that things escalate and stronger feelings evolve – accompanied by even more push back. It is as though both of us are convinced and have to convince the other that our view is the perfect and correct one.
There was talk around the ABA Dispute Resolution Conference this week that the demand for mediation services may be declining. If that's true, does that mean that mediation is falling out of favor, just as arbitration has somewhat fallen out of favor? Or is it a reflection of the economy and the decline in demand for dispute resolution services in general?
Bach, Beijing, and Being at the Table
F. Peter Phillips
Negotiators at the table might have completely different interests and no shared ground as to the law or the facts; they can nevertheless contribute to a productive mediation because they are there. They share the dispute itself, and they share at least an interest in resolving the dispute in their clients’ favor. They share a recognition of the process, and a willingness to make themselves heard.
Is There Good and Bad Mediation Practice?
Wow! I’ve been overwhelmed with work and haven’t posted in months. But I’m back now and thinking about the topic: Is there good and bad mediation practice?
The Mediation Trainer’s Toolbox
Having spent the last few weeks immersed in mediation theory, conflict theory, negotiation theory and a variety of other theories for various projects, including the preparation of a mediation training course, I feel the need for a little practicality.
In some mediations, I have witnessed the “nibbling” approach: one party keeps making demands on top of demands, often very small ones, in an effort to get the other party to reach a breaking point and either cave in to the demands or storm out of the negotiation.
The Winner’s Curse
Suppose you have a jar of coins and ask several friends to bid on the jar. The highest bid will be deemed the winner. According to Richard H. Thaler two results will occur: “(1) the average bid will be significantly less than the value of the coins (bidders are risk adverse); (2) the winning bid will exceed the value of the jar”. This is known as the “winner’s curse”.
Facing a Divorce Later in Life?
It has become noticeable that Baby Boomers and even older people are starting to experience a significant number of divorces. Couples married for 20 to 40 years are getting divorced.
The Straw That Broke The Camel's Back
I have used the expression “the straw that broke the camel’s back” or a similar idiom when referring to an incident that pushes an ongoing situation too far across a line of tolerance. I didn’t know the derivation of this particular expression and when I looked it up I found the meaning is consistent with this same notion.
AudioBlog: Elder Mediation: Family Disputes Over Caregiving
When families are faced with the long-term care arrangements for their aging parents and relatives, feelings of resentment, anger and jealousy that have festered since childhood often create new problems as families learn to cope and prepare for the road ahead. Instead of working together, families can get stuck placing blame.
A few weeks ago, I conducted a “lemon law” mediation. Over the past few months, most of these have been conducted by using separate sessions only; counsel have not wanted to participate in joint sessions. However, this time, plaintiff’s counsel wanted to hold a joint session. Defense counsel who had worked frequently with plaintiff’s counsel in the past and had a cordial relationship with plaintiff’s counsel, agreed.
Forgiving When Asked
Forgive me. I apologize. I was an idiot. You didn’t deserve what I said. I was so wrong. I didn’t mean it. You are a saint for putting up with me. Will you please forgive me? In whatever form requests for forgiveness take, it is not incumbent upon the receiver to forgive. For some reason many people think they ‘should’ forgive or at least say they do. It’s just not always that straightforward.
Empathy is an essential tool in mediation, both for the mediator and hopefully a quality the participants develop as well. Mediators recognize, unless we want to act purely as evaluators (and even then the capacity for empathy is still important), that we need to try to empathize with the needs and feelings of both sides in every case, to build trust and encourage understanding.
Inquire About Each Disputant's Agenda Before you Begin
Jan Frankel Schau
Litigation is typically a well-orchestrated process which is initiated by a formal "complaint", which includes several distinct "Causes of Action", together with a list of "remedies" and a "Prayer" for damages resulting from whatever misconduct is claimed. In response, Defendants file a formal "answer", usually denying all misconduct and perhaps adding a few "affirmative defenses" to the mix. By the time the case gets to mediation, it is usually less well-defined.
Core Concerns – Why are They Important?
The power of the core concerns comes from the fact that they can be used as both a lens to understand the emotional experience of each party and as a lever to stimulate positive emotions in yourself and in others.” Source: Beyond Reason: Using Emotions as You Negotiate by Roger Fisher and Daniel Shapiro.
Seek First To Understand
We often talk about “intuitive” abilities, and I even recall writing once in one of our online posts for the MS NDR program at Creighton, that the more you learn, the better stocked your “intuitive arsenal” is. I thus found myself applying skills that felt completely intuitive, although they are ones I only learned over the past 18 months, and were far from intuitive prior to entering the program.
Staying Objective Is Not Always Easy
Nobody ever calls me because something good happened. That’s an unfortunate reality for lawyers in my line of work. Every time the phone rings, it is because something bad happened. At best, the bad thing is a totaled car and a painful, but treatable, injury. At worst, the bad thing is a catastrophic injury or the death of a loved one. Empathy is an emotional quality that is a job requirement for personal injury lawyers. If I can’t imagine myself in my client’s shoes, how can I hope to tell their story to a jury in a compelling, persuasive way? I don’t think I could.
Replacing the “Blame Game” with a “New Game Plan”
Michael A. Zeytoonian
Two recent Boston Globe stories (2 21 13) stood out for their common theme – that of laying blame and finding fault. One article entitled “Not Without Blame” apportioned blame for what happened to the 2012 Red Sox. The other story was about the latest fiscal battle between House Republicans and President Obama. The article discussed the need to lay blame on the other side for the looming “sequester”, a default measure making automatic spending cuts if the powers that be in Washington, D.C. can’t come up with mutually acceptable solutions.
Effective Interviewing Techniques
Jan Frankel Schau
In mediation, effective interviewing is designed not only to create rapport, but to gain and convey genuine understanding of each disputant's unique perspective. Often, it will reveal hidden drivers that underlie the conflict and ultimately hold the keys to resolving the dispute.
Nanny McPhee’s for Grownups
"There is something you should understand about the way I work. When you need me but do not want me, then I must stay. When you want me but no longer need me, then I have to go. It’s rather sad, really, but there it is."
Everyone is waiting to see how this abolition of the Court’s mediation program will affect not only the mediation business, but the Courts in terms of case load and backlog for setting trials. If Mr. Randolph is correct; that our amygdala kicks in and prevents us from seeking a non trial by fire resolution unless we are forced to do so, then the LA County superior court system is in for a whole lot of trouble.
Show Respect and Empathy, Never Judgment
Jan Frankel Schau
One of the Mediator's Tools outlined in my upcoming book, "View from the Middle of the Road: A Mediator's Perspective" is to summon humanity with a goal of helping people who are suffering reach an end to their conflict in a way that brings them peace and closure. This week in California we had a dramatic and tragic event when a young Police Officer, Christopher Dorner, snapped after years of conflict with his own employment situation, killing 4 innocent people.
Conversations Leading Lord Grantham to Agreement
If you think the 20th century’s teen years look an awful lot like those of the 21st – massive technological change and fault lines breaking open between the one and the 99% – you’re quite right. In the most recent season of the rare PBS hit, Downton Abbey the British aristocracy is reeling from post-World War I modernization.
Is Your Clients' Conflict Water, Ice, or Vapor? Insights from the Science of Complexity
Stephanie West Allen
Reading the Executive Summary of a presentation that will be given this week in Davos reminded me of some of the problems with the use of neuroscience in conflict resolution: reductionism, for example. And reminded me that mediators should be paying as much (maybe more) attention to complexity as they are to neuroscience. Why, you may ask?
Burnout in Healthcare
Health care has always been a stressful profession. Think high-stakes work, too many patients, overwhelmed employees. It all adds up to lots of potential conflict, and that’s bad news for patient care, safety, and satisfaction. Now, throw health reform changes linking reimbursement to quality and patient perception of care metrics into the mix and the implications are clear: Managers must help employees handle conflicts productively. If not, the organization may not survive.
As we know, the word please is usually meant to be a polite statement that accompanies a request of another. With a drawn out pronunciation and sarcastic intonation, this word can turn quickly into an expression that reflects disgust, disapproval, anger, and disagreement. ‘Puullease’ may be used to dismiss the other person, to criticize, or to put them down. In any case, saying this word in the way just described typically leaves little room for conciliatory dialogue.
Character Assassinations a Machete
This article discusses how participants bring up the past in mediations, as though it would have some bearing on current mediations. People act so differently in conflict situations that their past actions rarely affect their mindset in a mediation.
Is this a Problem to Solve? Or a Tension to Navigate?
I used to work for a social service agency. This agency got funding from the government who set up various guidelines and reporting measures that we needed to abide by. Every now and then they would add various compliances that our organization needed to meet. Especially when it came to reporting and documentation.
It's Just As Hard To Be Ken As It Is To Be Barbie
Preparing for a presentation on negotiation and gender for 250 tax attorneys and their clients later this week, I’ve been thinking a lot about the ways in which men’s stereotypic gender roles make them worse negotiators than women.
Clients Choose Mediation Based on Mediator’s Words and Silences
Recently, I had the good fortune to attend an outstanding webinar by Professor of Social Interaction Elizabeth Stokoe, hosted by the National Association for Community Mediation (NAFCM). Professor Stokoe performs conversation analysis on interactions between mediators and parties. In her presentation, she discussed four common problems mediators may encounter during intake calls with potential clients who are involved in a neighbor-to-neighbor dispute. The problems can lead to the potential client rejecting the opportunity to mediate.
Check the Mediator's Personal Biases at the Door
Jan Frankel Schau
One of the tools that is most difficult to employ as a mediator is to check your own biases at the door. This week, for example, I had two mediations which challenged me to do just that. The first was a retaliation in employment case brought by a young man who was the same age as my son-in-law.
What’s so Bad about Bias? Mediation and Sustainable Peace
In September 2012, the United Nations published a general Guidance for mediators working at the international, national and local levels, which identifies eight fundamentals of an effective mediation process: preparedness, consent, impartiality, inclusivity, national ownership, international law and normative frameworks, coherence, coordination and complementarity among mediation efforts, and the development of quality peace agreements.
Listen Like It’s Your First Time
At the end of this past year I was involved with a couple of assessments for an organization and a church. Let me start off by saying that I love doing assessments. You get to meet a great microcosm of the organization, hear their stories, interact with them, and feel their passion.
We All Change… More Than We Admit!
Have you ever been asked to imagine during a negotiation or a mediation what the future will look like if you (1) settle the dispute under the terms being proposed; or (2) do not settle the dispute under the proposed (and/or different) terms? No doubt, your response assumes that your reactions, values, preferences, core values, and other aspects of your personality will be the same as they are now. In short, you assume you will be the same person six months from now as you are today.
Introducing The NAFCM Clearinghouse
NAFCM is pleased to announce the most exciting resource it's ever produced, one which will change the way our community collaborates and shares information. Introducing: the NAFCM Clearinghouse!
On Weathering Marriage Communication Style Differences
Marriages can successfully weather significant communication style differences. It helps to set the foundation for success early, but if that boat’s already sailed, fear not — you can still change its direction.
What are the Biggest Mistakes Divorced Parents Make?
While parents are divorcing and after they are divorced, they are often overwhelmed by all the changes in their lives. They may be filled with guilt, blame, rage, or grief. Though they, of course, love their children, it may be a huge challenge to manage emotions and conflict with their ex in a way that helps their children move through the changes and feel loved and secure.
Workplace Bullying: Why not Mediate it?
John Peter Weldon
Would you be prepared to sit down in mediation with a work supervisor or fellow employee against whom you have felt obliged to lodge a complaint of workplace bullying or psychological harassment, or with someone who has made an unwelcome and perhaps unjustified complaint of that nature against you?
A Few Things I Learned in 2012
Sometimes the inner conflicts I have can be more troublesome than the outright disagreements or problems I experience with others. The good news is, the older I get the quicker I’m able to resolve my inner conflicts so I can apply that learning to interactions with everyone from complete strangers to family members. This last year has been taught me a great deal in that regard. Here are a few examples.
A Response To The Critics Of “Profiting From Injustice”
Some arbitrators and investment lawyers have rejected these allegations, claiming that the investment arbitration system is not pro-investor biased. They told the Vancouver Sun that “states win a significant number of cases” and have as much influence over the composition of the panel of arbitrators deciding the cases as the claimant.
Dealing with Micro-Negotiators
"I can’t believe they want to negotiate every single point," my client said. "It makes no sense. These are standard terms, and many of their changes represent no functional difference."
Making a Mountain Out of a Mole-Hill
When we begin to experience irritation about something happening with another person, our thoughts and feelings sometimes go to places that are not helpful for the situation and relationship with the other person. We may not always be aware of what is exacerbating things, but before we know it our initial responses have taken twists and turns that only serve to complicate matters. As things expand in our minds and hearts, we often find ourselves more and more conflicted, confused, and upset. As things get bigger they may not even be a reasonable facsimile of what they were in the beginning.
Twelve Hours of Conflict
Click here for MORE ARTICLES
For the first hour of conflict, my neutral gave to me a round table with a great view
For the second hour of conflict, my neutral gave to me two succinct summaries
And a round table with a great view