Forward and Upward: A Toddler's View of Conflict Resolution Lesson #8: The Blessings of each September
A TODDLER'S VIEW
THE BLESSINGS OF EACH SEPTEMBER
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.
September is a month of new beginnings. This month, our granddaughter, age 2 1/2 starts pre-school, where she will be taught some important lessons, valuable to those in conflict and those seeking to resolve their conflict through mediation.
Her teachers will encourage her to keep an open mind, be inquisitive, and listen to others' points of view. She will be reassured that we all make mistakes from time to time, but that it is more important to accept your mistakes and learn from them than to achieve perfection 100% of the time.
Before she starts school, her parents prepared her both physically and emotionally. They did a little school shopping, including sturdy new sneakers and a backpack, which carries a little pouch full of crayons and stickers. They reassured her that they will be back to pick her up by noon every day and that her teacher, Miss Molly, will always be there if she needs something before then.
Like those in conflict and their attorneys, it's worth reminding participants in a mediation to keep an open mind and to listen for other possible viewpoints, rather than insist that your way is the only way to go. When you find that you or your client have contributed to the dispute in some way, it's easier and better to accept that responsibility, apologize and use that to get to a fair resolution, than to hide or reject any possibility that each side may have some issues that lead to the conflict they are in.
Finally, like my pre-schooler, careful preparation is always worthwhile. Get to know your opposing counsel, your mediator and the key decision-makers beforehand if possible. And come prepared with a fully negotiated term sheet which includes the tax considerations of any settlement, the consequences of the dismissal of extraneous parties and contemplation of the implications of a no re-hire provision and any other key terms that may be critical at the end of the negotiation.
I'm also struck that September is the month of the Jewish High Holidays, which brings it's own lessons. The theme of Rosh Hashana is one of a new beginning, an opportunity to acknowledge our shortcomings and to vow to improve ourselves in the year to come. To those that observe, I wish you a Shana Tova, a Happy New Year. May you be inscribed in the Book of Life for another year.
P.S.: I published two articles in the month of August which I pass along for you. I'd be happy to hear your feedback!
Jan Frankel Schau
ADR Services, Inc.
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