Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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I tried doing some unscientific research to find out what people are seeking from mediation.  What I did was to use sitemeter, a tool for measuring web traffic, to identify some of the Google and other searches that led people to my site. I understand that my methodology will mainly turn up search queries that happen to coincide with subjects I am already addressing in this blog.  But such a list of search queries may also reflect how well (or poorly) people understand the mediation process, and what they are hoping to get out of it.  Here is a sampling of some terms people are searching for (all reported verbatim) that led them to my site: -Am I more likely […]

In a caucus with the plaintiff’s attorney and his counsel, we were trying to persuade the plaintiff to lower his settlement demand.  Plaintiff’s attorney started telling his client that he had to compromise.  As soon as he said that, I saw the client visibly flinch.  This client had no interest in compromise.  Instead he was interested in greater recognition on the defendant’s part of the debt that was owed.  I told him he didn’t have to settle the case at all that day, and should probably take some more time to think about his options.  I was still hoping we would settle the case that day, but I could also see that this person was not about to be browbeaten […]

Following up on an earlier post, in which I discussed the frustrations of many mediators with pro bono court-annexed mediation, I want to try to figure out where we should draw the line between cases appropriate for free mediation and cases in which parties should be expected to pay for mediation services.  I suggest that the answer to that question may depend on one’s view of the role of mediation in the judicial system, and specifically on whether mediation should be treated as “public” dispute resolution process to which citizens should be given access in the same way they should be guaranteed access to the courts, or whether mediation should be treated as a “private” system that allows litigants to […]

A mediator at a study group I sometimes attend raised a good point about the limits of most mediators’ expertise.  He wondered whether it is even a good idea to delve into all of the psychological issues that may be motivating the parties to a dispute, since attorney-mediators are not psychologists or psychiatrists and are not qualified to diagnose or solve such problems.  Sometimes it may even be counter-productive to open the wounds underlying a complicated family or business problem, and it may not be necessary or even possible to resolve those problems to settle the lawsuit.  Personally, however, I usually want to try to find out about the forces that are driving the dispute, at least to some extent, […]