Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

Read The Latest Post

Using the tools of mediation, we delve into the root causes of problems, and we try to solve those problems in a non-adversarial way. Take the problem of excessive gun violence, for example, much on the public mind since the horrific Newtown massacre. Sadly, much of the debate on this topic is fairly superficial, and much of it reflects the typical confrontational way in which we resolve conflicts in our society. On one side we hear advocates talking about banning weapons; on the other people talking about how their rights are being infringed. We may be losing an opportunity to identify shared values and find common ground to reduce the underlying problem of gun violence. I heard a panel discussion […]

The recent decision by the Lakers player formerly known as Ron Artest to change his legal name to Metta World Peace opens up immense possibilities for sportswriters and commentators to add layers of irony and nuance to their coverage. I’m not sure the sports community is ready to rise to the challenge. For example, although today’s LA Times story, about Coach Mike Brown’s decision to shift World Peace from the starting lineup to the second string, did lead off by saying that the coach is “giving World Peace a chance . . . to come off the bench,” the article otherwise left these possibilities largely unexplored. Never fear. I am fully prepared to leap into the breach. What kind of […]

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 […]

In a talk I heard yesterday at the Southern California Mediation Association annual conference, Lee Jay Berman used the metaphor of a funnel to describe how how the legal system squeezes the issues involved in conflicts to the shape of a dried-out hamburger patty, so that most of the concerns of the participants in the dispute get left out of the process.  So one could think of the legal system as a kind of meat grinder.  And the mediator has the job of putting some flavor back into the squeezed-out meat, and adding some new ingredients to the mix. This concept resonated with me since as a practicing trial attorney I have often found myself listening to clients providing endless […]

I recently saw the trailer for the Karate Kid remake, which made me wonder if it would match that thrilling moment in the original film where the kid suddenly realizes that all the time he thought he was just being exploited into doing a lot of backbreaking work, he was actually learning karate. Here is a dream of how I’d like to conduct a mediation: We all sit in a room discussing who knows what, getting to know each other better. All of the discussion seems tangential, even completely irrelevant to the matter the parties are so concerned about. Maybe we tell stories or do some exercises or play some games that people find a little weird or uncomfortable. Or, […]