There is a famous sketch by Monty Python in which the lead character (Michael Palin) is looking to buy a five-minute argument. He walks into an office where the receptionist offers him some options. One of the options involves a person who is too conciliatory. She decides that there is a good argument available and directs him to a private room where another character swears at him and basically terrorizes him with ‘abuse’. Palin complains, indicating he was looking for an argument. The abuser apologizes and indicates that Palin has entered the wrong room; that he has entered the ‘abuse’ room, and directs him to the argument room down the hall.
Palin enters the argument room and th [...]
The Problem: You think that your client’s pain is so severe and different than the typical client that you value the case substantially higher than the other side will pay.
The Solution: Understand what “category” your adversary has put your case in and either accept it or try to create a new category of value.
Consider the guitar fretboard for a moment. It is a complex maze of horizontal, vertical and perpendicular dimensions to achieve sound that stretch across a think plank of wood up to 25 inches. Its beauty lies in the ability of the player to form similar sounds anywhere on the board. It is intricate and elegant at the same time. Most average guitarists (myself included) tend to [...]
Here is a confession. I have a theory (in the best traditions of Monty Python). It is totally untested. I am pretty certain that it would not survive rigorous, double-blind trials. It may, however, contain some seeds of insight.
My theory – wait for it – is that mediations where one or more of the senior negotiators smoke (and I mean tobacco, not other substances) are more likely to result in settlement.
I shall call it “Bill’s Law” – to rank alongside “Sod’s Law”, “Murphy’s Law” and “Parkinson’s Law”.
Now hold that thought, suspend judgement, and travel with me back to 1999-2002. The venue is the UN in New York and Vienna. I travelled to those venues [...]
A potpourri of mediation-related reflections as the holiday break fades from memory.
Hockey Mediation - With last Saturday’s puck drops in 13 cities the National Hockey League has commenced its lockout-shortened season. Full arenas around the league confirm the strength of the game’s drawing power if not the forgive-and-forget sentiments of long-suffering fans.
Readers of this Blog will know that mediation played an important role in bringing the lock-out to an end. This article shines much-deserved light on the mediator and his role is achieving the settlement.
Although this was an American mediator working with primarily American negotiators in New York City I continue to consider this fi [...]
Mediating complex employment cases is like rehearsing for a concerto. The conductor spends a substantial amount of time reviewing the score, while the musicians practice the piece both individually and collectively. Hours and hours of practice result in one concert. Malcolm Gladwell, in his recent book ‘Outliers,’ describes the phenomenon of hugely successful people and how they achieved their success through planning and preparation. For example, the Beatles rehearsed and played their music for at least 10,000 hours before they were ready for the Ed Sullivan Show. That’s not to say it’s necessary to spend that much time preparing for an employment mediation, but the potential for su [...]
I would like to focus this blog entry on a recent development of Singapore relating to agreements to agree/negotiate in good faith and some of the practical consequences that can arise from this case.
In the English common law, the traditional position has been that an agreement to agree or an agreement to negotiate was unenforceable. As the risk of simplification, the thinking behind this position was that such agreements were too uncertain to be enforceable. While the writer can and has gone into the reasons elsewhere why agreements to negotiate should be treated differently from agreements to agree and that a case can be made for the former types of agreement to be enforceable, the write [...]
In this posting I want to reflect on how, as a mediator, I’ve learnt much from the related but independent conflict management process, called conflict coaching. Before I get ahead of myself, however, let me start by offering an explanation of conflict coaching.
Conflict coaching is a service provided by a conflict specialist to a person who is, or may in the future be, involved in conflict. According to the REAL Conflict Coaching model, coaches assist clients to develop the 5 Cs:
CLARITY: Gain clarity about the conflict situation;
COMPREHENSION: Understand their own, and the other person’s, needs and goals;
CHOICES: Identify and evaluate their choices for moving forward;
Singapore was the location of an ADR conference over 4-5 October 2012. The conference was entitled “The 5Cs of ADR: Collaboration-Communication-Consensus-Cooperation-Conclusion” and was jointly organized by the Subordinate Courts of Singapore, the Singapore Mediation Centre, the Law Society of Singapore, the Supreme Court of Singapore, the Singapore Academy of Law, the Ministry of Law and the Community Mediation Centres. The conference saw a gathering of academics, practitioners and service providers from, inter alia, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand, Australia, the United States, the United Kingdom, the Maldives and Fiji to share developments about ADR and to discuss ways to move th [...]
The following was written by my colleague and friend, Mariam Zadeh, following her transition as a 9/11 survivor to becoming a private mediator in Los Angeles:
One who refuses to seek the advice of others will eventually be led to a path of ruin. A mentor helps you to perceive your own weaknesses and confront them with courage. The bond between mentor and protégé enables us to stay true to our chosen path until the very end. [Buddhist Philosopher Daisaku Ikeda]
On September 11, 2001, the lives of many in New York were forever changed, including mine. If I had been asked then, what I would be doing now, I would never have imagined it would be this.
I was riding the Staten Island Ferry on my [...]
饮水思源 – Chinese proverb meaning “When you drink water, remember its source”
Many will remember 25 August 2012 as the day Neil Armstrong passed away. Neil Armstrong was a hero and an inspiration to many. He was of course the first man to walk on the moon and his achievement was symbolic to many of being able to do what was till that point not possible.
Perhaps, lesser known is that 25 August 2012 was also the day Roger Fisher passed away. He was 90.
Roger Fisher was a Professor at Harvard Law School. Many mediators will know Roger Fisher for the 1981 best seller “Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In” which he co-authored with William Ury and in a later edition [...]