Forward and Upward: A Toddler's View of Conflict Resolution Lesson #7: Starting your day with a positive attitude can change the course of your mediation hearing
A TODDLER'S VIEW
STARTING YOUR DAY WITH A POSITIVE ATTITUDE CAN CHANGE THE COURSE OF YOUR MEDIATION HEARING
Readers will recall that last year's newsletter was a series of "Life Lessons", in tribute to my late mother. This year, I am happy to report that I am learning and re-learning new life lessons through the eyes of the next generation, my granddaughter. Like "My Mother's Legacy", these are lessons that serve me well as I apply them to mediation.
Last month I had the joy of going on a family vacation, which included my treasured 91 year old Father all the way to my 2-year old granddaughter (and 28 others in between). Waking up to the giggles of a toddler still in pajamas, or the sheer gratitude of a nonagenarian as he awakened to another day with all of his family gathered together daily was a good reminder of the benefit of an optimistic attitude.
We've all been there. The parties (or their lawyers!) begin the mediation hearing by scowling and saying: "This case is not going to settle." Towards the middle of the day, they are looking to confirm their earlier commitment and make it impossible to resolve. Even after they have agreed upon numbers, they are grousing about the terms in the agreement, with proclamations like: "Unreasonable! A Deal-Breaker! No way!"
In this mature market, most litigators know that most cases do settle without going to trial. This anticipating that it will fail serves no real purpose except to make it harder to commit to settling the case later. And it may actually get in the way of settlement if the naysayer creates unnecessary roadblocks causing the other parties to shut down and refuse to continue to negotiate until a full resolution is reached.
Much like a person who is depressed, many people engaged in legal conflicts, perceive their problems as "the worst" possible scenario, pervasive and permanent. They need help to jolt them into a bit of optimism if the mediation is going to have a chance for success.
Why not take a lesson from my toddler and my Dad? Every morning, begin the day with gratitude for waking up, hopefully amongst people who love and respect you, and make the best of the day that lies ahead?
Hoping you enjoy the rest of summer--together with those who bring smiles to your face.
P.S.: I am Chairing a series of Mediation Webinars for the ABA Dispute Resolution Section beginning in September. For the Q&A published by "Just Resolutions" this month, click here: ABA Dispute Resolution Section Webinar. Also, for those of you making the annual trek to Las Vegas for CAALA at the end of this month, you'll find me hanging around the ADR Services booth there. Come by to say "Hello"!
Jan Frankel Schau
ADR Services, Inc.
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