Archive for the ‘Mediation’ Category

You Can Do Better Than Justice

Tuesday, September 25th, 2012

You Can Do Better than JusticeIn mediations we often hear the parties justify their positions using legal words and terms of law. They may have had lawyers advise them or not. They may have studied-up on their own. Or they may have simply absorbed our legal-adversarial culture watching lawyer dramas on television. Wherever they got them, they’ll use the words that sound a lot like legal claims or defenses.

Even if they don’t use the word, they’re talking about Justice.

I tell my mediation clients they can do better than Justice.


A Common Problem

Tuesday, September 11th, 2012

People in conflict have a common problem, even if they don’t see it that way. Here’s what it is.

They both want something the other has. That alone isn’t really a problem. The problem is they’re both afraid they won’t get it.

Mediators can help them find a solution even if they only focus on what they see as their own side of the problem. Yet if they are able and willing address their common problem they can create many more possible solutions.

photo credit: thienzieyung via photo pin cc

Make No Concessions

Tuesday, August 21st, 2012

To make concessions is to let go. To give-up.

Don’t do it. And don’t act like you’re doing it when you’re not.

You’ve got something better you can do. (more…)


Tuesday, 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. (more…)

The Most Ignorant One in the Room

Tuesday, 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:


Listening for Something New

Tuesday, 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.


Learning the Lexicon: “That’s Good Medicine”

Tuesday, 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.


Learning the Lexicon of “Private Language”

Tuesday, 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.


Mediator In the Middle, Mixing Things Up

Tuesday, 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? (more…)

Mediation: Something in the Middle

Tuesday, 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. (more…)