“I didn’t do anything wrong!” “Well I didn’t do anything wrong either!” was the quick retort. Is that the end of the mediation? It is if the parties have come to mediation only to assess blame. But determining who is at fault and deciding who is right and who is wrong, is the responsibility of adjudicators and judges, not mediators.
When parties are stuck in the past and stuck in a blaming cycle, they narrow their choices. They can go to a judge or arbitrator, which in this country is costly and time consuming. Or they can ask someone else, to decide for them, losing control over their own dispute and sometimes only making one side very unhappy with the result leading to further resentment and sometimes even more conflict.
A good mediator will focus the parties on where they do agree, instead of where they disagree and move them to the future. They will focus on the what the parties need going forward rather than the facts of what occurred, including increasing the trust between the parties so that the conflict doesn’t arise again.
If you are stuck in a dispute, think about trying mediation. Call 206 367-1994 now or email for more information.
As reported in the Seattle Times recently, Gravity Payments co-founder Dan Price CEO, is facing a lawsuit brought by his brother and co-founder, Lucas Price. Profits that could be going to help fund Dan Price’s decision to pay his employees a living wage of $70,000/year may end up being used to pay litigation costs. Not to mention the relationship costs.
When family members disagree over business matters, emotions run high. As trust erodes, so does the relationship. But siblings don’t ever stop being siblings. When they don’t get along, family gatherings suffer. Parents and children suffer. Alienation and loss of community sets in.
Both brothers probably know this and usually when a lawsuit is filed between family members, it is not done without having tried to talk first. What many people still don’t know is that a mediator can make a big difference in helping the parties resolve highly emotional issues they haven’t been able to resolve themselves while saving them time, money and further emotional distress. A mediator skilled in communication techniques may be able to discover interests that underlie the reasons the suit was filed and help the parties work through the legal issues so that both sides feel like their rights as well as their feelings are being addressed.
Lawsuits are grueling and expensive affairs. Complaints are written to persuade a third party to award what is being sought, not to explain why offense was taken or negotiations broke down. In mediation, parties can discover what problems are beneath the surface, work on resolving those sometimes seemingly unrelated problems and smooth the way towards coming up with a solution that works for everyone.
More and more lawyers are realizing the benefits that early dispute resolution and mediation can provide their clients. Mediators who are also lawyers are becoming more sensitive to helping parties resolve not only the legal issues but to achieve psychological and procedural satisfaction as well.
Here's a video from the American Bar Association with a humorous take on the world of mediation. Let me know what you think!
Dee Knapp, J.D.
Resolving conflict by creating conditions that work.