Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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Many conflicts can be resolved without examining the underlying causes of the conflict too deeply, just as the common cold can be treated by dealing with the symptoms rather than the disease. For an ordinary lawsuit, removing the costs and uncertainty of continued litigation may present reason enough to settle the case, without any need to discuss the pathologies of the parties’ relationship or the flaws in the way one party or the other conducts their business, that caused the conflict. Focusing on problems rather than solutions may even impede resolution of a conflict in many cases, as these discussions tend to inflame parties’ passions. (See my prior post on solution-focused mediation.) But for the most intractable and difficult conflicts, […]

An article from Pacific Business News shows just how dramatically the number of jury trials has dropped off in the State of Hawaii, where only 17 civil jury trials were completed in the state courts last year.  The trend appears to be the same everywhere, though perhaps not to the drastic extent that has been accomplished in Hawaii.  The article attributes this decline to court-sponsored arbitration and mediation programs.  For example, all personal injury and other tort cases with a value of less than $150,000 are sent to arbitration.  Should mediators be happy about this trend, representing as it does the triumph of alternative dispute resolution, to the point that trial has become a vanishing breed?  One unhappy trial lawyer […]

According to this report, Syrian President Assad is willing to move forward with peace talks with Israel, and Turkey is available to mediate, but there is “no Israeli partner willing to move forward.” According to the same report, however, as well as this Reuters story in the New York Times, Prime Minister Netanyahu has given assurances that Israel is prepared to resume negotiations unconditionally.  But Israel says it would prefer to negotiate directly with Syria, or use a French mediator, rather than through Turkey, according to the Jerusalem Post. What is going on here? Is this some kind of elaborate courting ritual, where each side is waiting for the other to ask for a dance? Or do the parties mean […]

The new movie The Men Who Stare at Goats is a comic take-off on the true story of an Army program to incorporate New Age concepts into the military. In the movie, Jeff Bridges plays an Army Colonel who trains an experimental unit of “Jedi warriors” who bring psychic powers and peacemaking concepts into modern war-fighting. George Clooney plays the most talented soldier trained by this unit, who actually does seem to have psychic powers. Of course, most of the ideas propagated by this so-called New Earth Army, which was based on a real program called the First Earth Battallion, were crazy, did not work, and were scoffed at by the regular Army. Just as you are ready to laugh […]

We can only speculate as to why Carrie Prejean settled her lawsuit against the Miss USA Pageant, because she has refused to reveal her reasons on the grounds of mediation confidentiality. I of course have no interest in any such rumors, and of course Carrie Prejean has every right to refuse to talk about her reasons for settling her lawsuit, regardless of whether she is bound to refuse or not. My only interest is in educating the public about the proper bounds of mediation confidentiality. Coincidentally, the Second District Court of Appeal in California issued a decision yesterday in a case called Cassel v. Superior Court on this very topic. No, not sex tapes! Mediation confidentiality. Cassel filed a legal […]