Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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A study reported in The Jury Expert (brought to my attention on Phyllis Pollack’s blog), came to the somewhat surprising conclusion that the mediator’s behavior did not greatly affect the agreements reached. The researchers observed 62 mediations, then coded and analyzed the particpants’ statements, and correlated those with the results achieved. They were surprised to find that the mediator’s behavior and techniques seemed to have a limited impact on the results.  The authors conclude that, rather than seeing their actions as determinative, mediators “should understand that they are hosting a negotiation process.” (This sounds like a comment noted in my post on the “beer summit”, where one of the participants described President Obama’s contribution as providing the beer.) This conclusion […]

Mediation may soon be shown in a more glamorous way thanks to USA Network, which is developing a new tv series called “Facing Kate” for Sarah Shahi, in which she will be playing a lawyer who decides to become a mediator. (see story in the Hollywood Reporter) This has to be good news for the public image of mediation. Now people will start seeing mediation as sexy and exciting. Mediators, however, may have to worry about cleaning up their acts. Lest participants be disappointed when they see how ordinary most of us look compared to the actors on tv, we may have to pay more attention to our hair, make-up and clothing. Of course, I have long been accustomed to […]

Perhaps because I have two teenagers, I find myself thinking about how to motivate people who generally find my suggestions stupid or old-fashioned.  If my ideas are going to be received as uncool, perhaps I should tell my kids the opposite of what I really think. As a mediator, I face this situation less often, because people generally come at least partially receptive to what I am offering. Reverse psychology can still be employed more often than you might expect, however.  It is not only teenagers who resist prescriptions that others think are good for them.  There must be an innate human compulsion to do the opposite of what we are told, going back to the all-consuming desire Adam and […]

Monday night (10/19/09). It’s the bottom of the ninth inning. The Dodgers are hanging on to a 4-3 lead in the crucial fourth game, in which the Dodgers have the chance to tie up the National League Championship series. Two outs, one strike, and seemingly moments away from victory, just waiting for Jonathan Broxton to put the final batter away. Instead, Jimmy Rollins hits a double, scoring both runners already on base, and the Phillies stunningly take the game, and almost inevitably, the Dodgers’ World Series hopes. But was it really Jimmy Rollins who won the game for Philadelphia? In Bill Plaschke’s column yesterday in the Los Angeles Times, Plaschke argues that the decisive moment was Broxton’s walk given to […]

The surprising choice of President Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace prize, coming so early in his term, has led to some interesting commentary on what exactly constitutes a noteworthy achievement in peacemaking. Many who feel the award is inappropriate contend that unless Obama were able to broker a significant treaty, or achieve an actual arms reduction, or some other similar accomplishment, he would not merit such an award. Supporters of the award, on the other hand, point to the transformation that President Obama has already achieved in the way Americans view the world, and the way the rest of the world views America. These conflicting points of view, as I discussed in my political blog, could be said to […]