Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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Is it possible for a mediator to show too much empathy? At a program SCMA put on last night which included a mock employment mediation, reaction in the room was divided in response to the demonstrator’s expressions of understanding of the employee’s grievances. Although a few in the audience felt that the mediator could have gone even further in commiserating with the employee’s feelings that the employer had not adequately accommodated her need for religious observances in the workplace, a fair number of others thought it was wrong for the mediator to display any sort of solidarity with the employee’s complaints. Those who objected to the mediator’s expressions of empathy thought this approach could threaten the mediator’s neutrality. They also […]

I try to avoid second guessing juries, even when they don’t come out the way I might think they should. And I generally would not say that any acquittal in the criminal justice system shows that the system is not working. That’s because our criminal justice system is supposed to be based on the premise that it is better that ten guilty men go free than that one innocent person is convicted. A wrongful conviction might be used as evidence that the system is not working. But an acquittal, even of a guilty defendant, shows the system is working the way it was designed. But if the acquittal in the Zimmerman case can be taken as evidence that the system […]

The surprising choice of President Barack Obama for the Nobel Peace prize, coming so early in his term, has led to some interesting commentary on what exactly constitutes a noteworthy achievement in peacemaking. Many who feel the award is inappropriate contend that unless Obama were able to broker a significant treaty, or achieve an actual arms reduction, or some other similar accomplishment, he would not merit such an award. Supporters of the award, on the other hand, point to the transformation that President Obama has already achieved in the way Americans view the world, and the way the rest of the world views America. These conflicting points of view, as I discussed in my political blog, could be said to […]

Some of mediation’s touted benefits include the potential for repairing a broken relationship, or the chance to re-open communications between estranged business partners or a divorcing couple, people who must continue to deal with each other. Mediation can also devise creative solutions that open up if the parties are able to resume or start a new relationship, for example, settling a dispute over poor service or defective products by supplying new products or services. In many lawsuits, however, the parties have no interest in doing any further business with each other. In the garden variety personal injury case between strangers, there is no reason for the parties to desire any future contact, and even in a case that arises out […]