Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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Even in the course of the most hard-fought lawsuits, opportunities may arise for the parties to decide to stop fighting for a moment, and try to work out some problem or another together. Parties are encouraged to resolve discovery disputes cooperatively, for example, instead of fighting over every document request and deposition notice. Parties are also encouraged to resolve entire disputes through mediation rather than battling it out in court. To do that, we need to change the atmosphere from one of mutually assured destruction to one of cooperation. How do we do that? Think about changing the atmosphere in politics, a field of endless, irresolvable conflict and argument. In 2008, candidate Obama talked a lot about transforming political conflict, in a way that sounded familiar […]

A piece in the New York Times last week called How Liberals Win, reminds us of the deals that FDR and LBJ made with corporate power in order to enact their signature reforms.  What President Obama did to pass health care reform followed that tradition. But when the Obama administration made a deal with pharmaceutical companies to obtain their support for health insurance reform, many of his supporters viewed that agreement as a sell-out. In hindsight, however, it appears that that agreement may have been crucial to obtaining passage of the Affordable Care Act. Remember that Clinton failed at gaining health insurance reform, because his proposals fell victim to a fierce and unrelenting advertising campaign by the health insurance industry. Clinton lost that battle […]

I grew up in the 1960’s when the prevalent architectural vision reflected the dawning space age. Designers imagining the cities of the futures pictured tall building surrounded by flying vehicles, ramps and elevated highways. My childhood ideas of the future came from such sources as the Jetsons, the 1964 New York World’s Fair, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. That style of architecture is out of fashion nowadays. We have returned to a more old-fashioned, pedestrian-friendly idea of city life. It’s called the New Urbanism, and I’m all for it. But cities like Los Angeles still retain examples of distinguished architecture from this period. (e.g., the Theme building at Los Angeles Airport; the Cinerama Dome, which I had a hand in […]

This video has been making the rounds for awhile, so I’m sure a lot of readers have already seen it. It’s from a British game show that ends with a variant of the prisoner’s dilemma problem that a lot of us study in mediation programs. Nick has evidently figured out that he can never be sure he will be able to persuade Ibriham that he will be fair. And even if he could, that might only encourage Ibriham to take advantage. So Nick adopts the novel strategy of trying to persuade Ibriham that Nick will make the selfish move, in order to force Ibriham to make the only play that can possibly benefit both of them. Then Nick can be […]