August 14th, 2012

Some folks in my line of work think that “collaboration” is an ultimate and absolute value. Nuh-uh. Sometimes it’s time to call it. The best thing for some people in conflict may be to disengage.

My wife worked for an airline owned by a person who was larger-than-life. Read the rest of this entry »

Court as a Thing to Stay Out of

August 7th, 2012

A colleague posted that she just finished writing her awards as an arbitrator in two cases. “At least they stayed out of court” she said.

The choice to arbitrate reflects the particular belief that court is a thing to stay out of.

People like me have been motivated to provide alternatives like mediation because of our dissatisfaction with the court system. We just don’t think that the adversarial process the court uses is best for everybody. It’s geared toward someone else making a decision that’s then imposed on the parties. Instead, mediation is a collaborative process; the parties make their own decisions about how to resolve their disputes themselves.

But the choice to arbitrate, based on a belief that court is a thing to stay out of, says much more than that. It goes deeper than that. And it’s more damning than that. Read the rest of this entry »

The Most Ignorant One in the Room

July 31st, 2012

Everybody is ignorant, only on different subjects. -Roy Rogers

I don’t approach mediation thinking I’ve got to know everything.

There’s just way too much knowledge in the world for me to think I can muster together some collection of it that is more relevant and extensive than what the others in the mediation will bring with them. Even if I could, things would not go well if we all pulled-out our respective knowledge bases like weapons and slammed them down on the table to see whose is bigger and badder.

But there’s an even deeper problem with thinking that to be effective I must be the most knowledgeable one in the room.

There is at least one fundamental truth in mediation. One thing I can always count on for certain. It’s always going to be true every time I step into the mediation room to work with people as their mediator. Here it is:

Read the rest of this entry »

Collision Course

July 24th, 2012

So often it seems we don’t see conflict coming in our lives and businesses until it’s right on top of us. “Where did that come from?!” Why didn’t we see it coming? Read the rest of this entry »

Listening for Something New

July 17th, 2012

For people to get to the changed thinking that resolves their conflict, there is something that they will see or hear or understand differently. (See And Now for Something Completely Different.)

What is that? How do they get there?

A friend and mediator-colleague has a really good way she gets right to the heart of changed thinking.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning the Lexicon: “That’s Good Medicine”

July 10th, 2012

I’ve written before about Learning the Lexicon – about getting familiar with the private language every group has. Learning the Lexicon of “Private Language.”)

I don’t learn their lexicon just to be able to communicate with the people I’m working with in a mediation. That’s important – knowing how to speak and understand is necessary of course.

There’s another reason as a mediator I have to learn their lexicon. It has to do with how people in conflict can change as their language changes.

This is a story about learning, and changing, through language.

Read the rest of this entry »

Learning the Lexicon of “Private Language”

July 3rd, 2012

Every group  has it’s own way of talking. They’ve got things they say that make sense to them. Every culture has its own way of communicating among themselves. Even a culture of  small boys.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mediator In the Middle, Mixing Things Up

June 26th, 2012

I’ve described how the mediator is “something in the middle” that changes the way people in conflict interact. What does that actually look like? How does that work in the mediation of your dispute? What does it feel like?

Well, to be honest, at times it doesn’t feel very good. It’s not always pretty. It may not be pleasant and it can be unsettling. Sometimes it’s just plain uncomfortable.

If it makes you feel any better, just think that it’s not any easier for the other guy, either.

But seriously: does it have to be this way? Why am I doing that? Read the rest of this entry »

Mediation: Something in the Middle

June 19th, 2012

For people to reach their solutions, something needs to be different. And Now for Something Completely Different. One of the biggest differences you can make in a dispute is simply to get a mediator involved.

Having a someone else there definitely makes things different. Having a third person there who’s not invested in the dispute and who doesn’t have a dog in the fight or a stake in the result can sometimes make all the difference in the world.

Just the fact that somebody else is there is sometimes all it takes. Sometimes it takes more. Read the rest of this entry »

And Now for Something Completely Different

June 12th, 2012

People come to me with their disputes usually when they’re at wit’s end.

They’ve been trying to fix it themselves, and whatever it is they were doing isn’t working. If it ever worked before, it isn’t working anymore now.

They know the definition of crazy: doing the same thing and expecting a different result. They know things need to be different to reach a different result. They get that. If they want a different result, something’s got to change.

And they know the solution. They already know exactly what it’s going to take. Something needs to change, and that something is the other person. Read the rest of this entry »