Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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What a shame, I told the participants in a mediation recently, that you people did not call me when this controversy started as a small, almost neighborly dispute, instead of waiting until it snowballed into a giant lawsuit. In this case, the plaintiff’s claimed damages had greatly escalated due to the delay in resolving the problem. That can happen in real estate or personal property disputes where a property might sit vacant or in deteriorating condition for a long time, and it can also happen in contractual disputes where the harm to one or both parties’ businesses increases by virtue of the continuance of controversy. It can happen in employment litigation when a party’s focus on the injustices of the […]

Some mediators I was meeting with this morning expressed trepidation about the new TV series Fairly Legal.  (See my prior post on the announcement of this series over a year ago.)  We were all curious to see it, but worried about such questions as whether mediators in real life can live up to the glamorous image of a TV mediator.  We also wondered whether the show will give people the wrong idea about mediation.  And the question I found most interesting, how will a show about mediation–which aims to reduce and resolve conflict–be able to show the conflict and drama so necessary for television?  Having just watched the premiere, I came away fairly impressed with the way the show dealt […]

Each time we are forced to deal with another attempted or successful political assassination or other violent act, we react in a slightly different way, depending on the political concerns of the moment.  Some past incidents have sparked calls for stricter gun controls.  Sometimes we have heard cries for more law and order.  You used to hear people blame overly permissive child-rearing practices for violent or disruptive behavior.  Sometimes violence has been explained as the result of injustice or prejudice in society.  This time, in the wake of the attempted Giffords assassination, we have heard a lot of talk identifying the high level of violent rhetoric among politicians and the media as a source of the problem. Attempts to draw […]

We can trace our justice system back to Moses receiving the Ten Commandments, or Hammurabi’s Code (1700 BCE), if we wish. I’d prefer to start with Aeschylus’s Oresteia, from 458 BCE.  I decided to reread this ancient three part Greek tragedy about the origins of a new concept of justice, to see if it might shed some light on transitions that seem to be occurring in our modern legal system.  Readers might have to bear with me for a few blog posts before I reach that goal. In Agamemnon, the first play of the Oresteia trilogy, Aeschylus tells the story of Agamemnon’s homecoming and murder.  Agamemnon has been away for ten years fighting the Trojan War.  In the meantime, not […]

Only a fearless writer would title her book “A is for Asshole.”  I know Vickie Pynchon mainly as a fellow mediation blogger.  Because I follow her blog, I can attest that she does not shy away from controversial topics, or refrain from telling you what she thinks.  She also offers a lot of sound advice about the practice of mediation.  Her book is an entertaining, and highly personal tour of the characters and problems you meet in conflict resolution. The book’s first surprise is that the asshole is not who you think it is.  The asshole of the book’s title only appears to be the brash, inconsiderate lout you dread meeting in a negotiation.  Instead he might be a complete […]