Archive for the ‘book review’ Category

Feelings

January 4, 2010

Feelings!

Feelings and emotions are an integral part of any mediation or negotiation. When I give talks or training on mediations involving money disputes, such as credit-card debt cases (read the Newsweek article here), people think it is cut and dry- go back and forth on offers and either there is a deal or no deal.
Yes, maybe some are like that but every mediation, even the ones I have handled which were settled faster than the length of my opening “welcome to mediation” statement, included expressing emotions and feelings. People want to be able to speak, and want to know they have been heard. This is where a mediator really helps with the process. Acknowledging statements by summarizing, validating and reframing are some of the best tools a mediator can have in their toolbox.
Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen wrote the book Difficult Conversations in which Chapter 5 is dedicated to feelings. This chapter explains how important feelings are, how to acknowledge the other person’s feelings and how equally important to express yours.
Some quick tidbits from the chapter:
Feelings are often at the heart of difficult conversations
Allowing feelings to be surfaced increases the chance for the mediation/negotiation to go well.
Unexpressed feelings can leak into the conversation. No one likes leaks, right? Trying to breeze through the mediation and ignoring the feelings present can have them leak, or even worse, burst, and the worst moment. How might they leak out? Through your tone, body language, facial expressions, and silence are all examples.

Unexpressed feelings make it difficult to listen. I am a big advocate of the saying seek to understand before seeking to be understood. It does not mean do not look to be understood, it’s important to realize that is second part of the statement. Holding your feelings in will do no good if you are the one involved in the negotiation. It will keep building up and cloud the mind diminishing your ability to listen effectively.

Unexpressed feelings take a toll on our self-esteem and relationships. Keeping your feelings out of the conversation keeps an important part of you out it.

Learn where your feelings hide. Feelings can be good at hiding and disguising themselves; be a good detective and find them!
Explore your emotional footprint. How were feelings expressed by you and those around you growing up? Were they welcomed and openly shared?
Accept that feelings are normal and natural. Yes, you are odd if you haven’t felt feelings… ever!
Recognize that good people can have bad feelings. I found this one particularly interesting as I often say people are not good or bad but it is their actions which are good and bad. They describe it as, for example, the assumption that good people should not get angry, fail, or a burden.
Learn that you feelings are important as theirs. Some of us can’t see our own feelings because we have learned somewhere along the way that other people’s feelings are more important than ours (page 93).

As mediators, we keep our feelings out of the negotiation between the parties. I find it very important to remind myself, and others, when we are not mediating and are involved in our own difficult conversations or negotiations that it is okay for feelings to be expressed.

My 3 steps in regards to feelings:
1) Recognize feelings. If it’s anger, tell yourself you are angry. Don’t say it’s okay if it isn’t.

2) Understand feelings. Okay, I am angry. Now connect the reasons or contributing factors leading to your anger.
3) Express feelings. Important factors in expressing your feelings in a healthy way include timing and realizing the other person might not know you feel this way and/or might see the situation differently.
Don’t let hidden feelings block other emotions. Page 96 lists a chart titled A Landscape of Sometimes Hard-to-find-Feelings. For example under love is affectionate, caring, close and proud while under gratitude is appreciative, thankful, relieved, and admiring.

Find the feelings lurking under attributions, judgments and accusations. These three can led to misunderstandings as well as defensive actions by both sides.

We translate our feelings into: Judgments, Attributions, Characterizations and Problem-Solving (page98).
Don’t use feelings as Gospel (or Sutra!): Negotiate with them. Remember, feelings, no matter how strong are impermanent.
Don’t vent, describe feelings carefully. Frame feelings back into the problem, express the full spectrum of your feelings, and don’t evaluate- just share.
How do you share- express your feelings without judging, don’t monopolize (both sides can have strong feelings at the same time!), and start with, “I feel…”
Sometimes feelings are all that matter. Yes, I have mediated cases that seemed to drag on and on, heels were being dug in deeper and deeper and then finally one side acknowledged the other side was hurt by the situation and apologized for their feelings being hurt (apologies are for another day!). The person said they were happy now and that was all they wanted- for the other party to know and acknowledge they were hurt.
This is meant to be just a quick introduction to how feelings are ever present and are by no means intended to be an all inclusive writing on the topic. If you are interested in learning more about these points and difficult conversations in general, I recommend you purchase the book Difficult Conversations. It is available [here] at Amazon and many other locations.
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Conflict

November 30, 2009


Conflict- it goes without saying we need to understand it in order to help others engage and possible resolve it. It is important to know that people respond to conflict based on their experiences and their knowledge of conflict. Their knowledge includes how they were taught how to deal with conflict.

It is important also to know however that people approach conflict based on their personalities, culture and their particular role in the dispute. Bernie Mayer, in The Dynamics of Conflict Resolution, explains how he approaches this by detailing four significant factors: values and beliefs about conflict, approaches to avoiding and engaging in conflict, styles of conflict, and the roles people are draw to play in conflict (page 26).
I Values and Beliefs: three important questions to as yourself: Is conflict acceptable; how should people behave in conflict; and is conflict solvable?
II Avoiding and Engaging in Conflict.
How people avoid conflict:
Aggressive Avoidance “Don’t start with me or you’ll regret it.”
Passive Avoidance “I refuse to tango.”
Passive Aggressive Avoidance “”If you are angry at me, that’s your problem.”
Avoidance Through Hopelessness “What the use?”
Avoidance Through Surrogates “Let’s you and them fight.”
Avoidance Through Denial “If I close my eyes, it will go away.”
Avoidance Through Premature Problem Solving “There’s no conflict; I have fixed everything.”
Avoidance By Folding “OK, we’ll do it your way; now can we talk about something else”

How People Engage Conflict
Power Based Approaches– does not always have to be violent. Includes protests, boycotts, strikes, etc.
Rights Based Approaches- done by asserting their privilege or referring to existing laws and rules.
Interest Based Approaches- what lies behind the positions? Go ahead, expand that pie!
Principle-Based Approaches (Appeals to Fairness)-
Manipulative-Based Approaches (Indirection)- can be destructive (lie, cheat, mislead, untrustworthy behavior) or constructive. Bernie adds, exploited and unempowered people often have no alternative for addressing their needs in a conflict except to use indirection or manipulation (page39).
III Styles of Conflict
Cognitive Variables
Analytical Versus Intuitive
Linear Versus Holistic
Integrative Versus Distributive
Outcome Versus Process Focused
Proactive Versus Reactive
Emotional Variable
Enthusiastic Versus Reluctant
Emotional Versus Rational
Volatile Versus Unprovocable
Behavioral Variables
Direct Versus Indirect
Submissive Versus Dominant
Threatening Versus Conciliatory
IV Roles People Play in Conflict
Advocate
Decision Maker (Arbitrator)
Facilitator (Mediator)
Information Provider (Expert)
Observer (Witness, Audience)
The blog posting contains heaps of information and terms new to the ADR practitioner and terms common to the pro. Regardless of which one you are, or somewhere in between, further reading on these topics will help you as a the ADR professional help the parties you are working with regardless of your role as a neutral (mediator) or not (consultant). The book is available at many sites, including [here] at Amazon.
Enjoy!

Book Review

August 5, 2009

Steve Mehta, already an accomplished mediator and ADR (Alternative Dispute Resolution) blogger, has decided to take on the title of author for his latest project. 112 Ways to Succeed in Any Negotiation or Mediation is the title of his debut as an author and to those who know him, it comes as no surprise that Mehta has provided us with a valuable resource.

The 200 page book gives 112 suggested practices in a brief format for mediators and negotiators. Most are less than a single page in length with only a handful exceeding one page. Mehta uses a simple formula for each of his tips: First, he explains it in relation to the ADR field. Next, he provides a combination of real life personal examples and explains the tip’s applications in everyday, non-ADR settings. Finally, he explains the benefits of the suggested practice….
www.Mediate.com published the entire book review, so if you are interested in reading the rest of the review, please visit their site (clicking the above link) or go straight to the page by click [here].
Enjoy!

Q & A With Steve Mehta

July 22, 2009

I recently corresponded via email with Steve Mehta, mediator and blogger, and asked him some questions about his upcoming book, 112 Ways to Succeed In Any Negotiation Or Mediation as well as some other questions on current ADR topics. Below you will find the unedited answers, enjoy!

Q: Steve, tell me, why 112, seriously, how did you come up with that amount?

It’s a good question. I knew that over the years of teaching seminars and mediation I had a lot of tips and points that could help people negotiate better. As such, there were two things that created the 112 ways. First, I didn’t want it to be the cliché 101 ways. Many writers have done101 ways to do something. So I wanted it to be more. But I also thought about how college classes are taught. Negotiations 101 usually signifies a basic course on the subject. My book simplifies the material, but is providing more advanced material than 101.
As such, for those two reasons. I came up with 112. Also, as a side note, I had over 400 negotiating points in starting the book. But I thought that would make the book huge and unmanageable. Maybe that will be in the next book.
Q: who is the intended audience for your book- the i-might-be-interested in ADR gal, the rookie ADR guy, the mid career mediator, or the grumpy veteran?

Quite frankly, everyone is the target. Obviously anyone interested in ADR would be interested in this book from the new person to the seasoned veteran like yourself. But the book isn’t just about ADR. It is targeted to help everyone – From the real estate agent to the soccer mom. Everyone negotiates. Everyone can benefit from learning how to negotiate.
The book provides real world examples that are not formal “negotiations” as a tool to show the reader that every situation is a negotiation. As an example, I got delayed on a flight home from vacation recently and was placed on standby. I used many of the book’s techniques to make sure that my family and I were allowed to get on to the next plane home, despite the fact that it was overbooked by 20 people, and my family was not on the top of the standby list.

Q: why read your book compared to the many other ADR books out there?

I asked myself the same question when I wrote it. How would I make it different than the other negotiating or ADR books. My book fills a void in the literature. Most books are very theoretical and take 40 pages to illustrate one part of the complex idea relating to negotiating. This is not to say that the theoretical book isn’t good. Those books make you think about the concept in general.

My book does two things: One, it puts it right in your lap in a few pages or less. You can learn something about negotiating in a few minutes. You don’t have to read the whole book to get something out of it. Second, though, the book also makes you think. You will say to yourself – that was easy. But as you think about it more, you see the multiple possibilities. It is like the art that uses small pictures of items to make a larger picture of something else.
When you look at the smaller picture, you can see exactly what it is quickly. When you step back and look at the picture in the context of the whole, you see a much larger and completely different picture that is made up of the many small pictures. As the reader thinks more about the point or reads on further, more pieces of the puzzle get put together. At any time, that one picture can be viewed in the context of the whole.
Q: please tell us about your experience as a mediator (what areas)?

I have been mediating since 1999. Since about 2002, I have been exclusively working as a full time mediator. I have mediated all types of civil litigation cases including employment, real estate, personal injury, business and elder abuse. I have also done many community mediations.

Q: OK, now that you told us your mediator experience, does that necessarily translate to being a successful author?

You never know what appeals to consumers to buy a book. I think that the experience I have is shown in the book by giving a teaching point and then an illustration from my experience about that point. I believe that life’s experiences make for interesting stories.
So I guess I hope that others will find the stories and issues interesting.

Q: What other ADR books do you recommend?

There are so many. Getting to Yes is a great starter. Getting Past No is another. Bargaining for Advantage is another. That’s just a few.

Q: How do you feel about the term “certified mediator”?

There are several issues involved. First, if you are a mediator and are successful in being able to resolve disputes or have a practice, then certification means nothing. However, to help a person get some type of credentialing it is beneficial.

A problem with certification also relates to who enforces it. If we are going to say that a mediator must be certified to practice, then will we have a regulatory organization – will it be statewide, or national. Do you need a license? If it is something for a person to put up on the wall – great. But if it is mandatory, that may create many problems.
Q: I have to ask one non-open ended question, who will win this year’s Ashes Series (I know you will have to look up what the Ashes Series is as will 95% of my readers but I am really looking forward to it!)?

First. You are right, I did have to look it up, but I had a pretty good idea of what you were asking about without looking it. My answer, after that is absolutely clear. I am a loyal subject of the United Kingdom, having been born in England, and I would have to say that England will and should win the Ashes Series in cricket.

Q: Why do you blog?
Information. To be honest blogging makes me a better mediator. I constantly have deadlines to get new content out on the blog. My view is always that you never stop learning. So writing a blog forces me to continue to be up to date and fresh. Plus, it lets me communicate in different ways with many people. I was, just like yourself, a communications major in college. I love to communicate.

Q: Any suggestions for would-be bloggers?

Do it. Find what you love and write about it.

Q: What other, if any, blogs do you follow?

Your’s, of Course and all the blogs that are on mediate.com’s blog roll. I love Tammy Lenski’s blog on technology. I also like Diane Levin’s blog and finally Victoria Pynchon’s. I also like Geoff Sharp’s. But in addition, I like to read blogs on all types of topics. I get a lot of information from blogs in psychology, social psychology, philosophy, technology, and gadgets.

Q: Are you ever evaluative while mediating?

Yes. I think an effective mediator has to play different roles at different times. You should never say never. Well maybe there are exceptions, but I can’t think of it. As a mediator you should be able to use all the tools in your toolbox. That is one of the themes of the book. So being evaluative has its place.

Bonus Question:
Q: finally, tell us when your book comes out, and how can we purchase it?
The book launches officially on a widespread release on August 1. It has been in limited release earlier and is now in all major booksellers and online booksellers such as Amazon and Barnes and Noble. You can also go to the book’s website, http://www.112ways.com.

I wanted to also take the time to thank you for your interest in the book and in asking me these questions. It has been a pleasure.

Book Review: Making Money Talk

April 19, 2009

Book Review

Making Money Talk: How To Mediate Insured Claims & Monetary Disputes

While at the ABA Spring Dispute Resolution Conference the past few days, I heard many people talk about this book and not only how good it is, some people said it has actually caused them to change their style in certain mediations (those involving money).

I have not purchased the book yet, but it has moved into the top tier of ‘near-future purchases’.

An ABA flyer on books they were selling at the conference had this to say about J. Anderson Little’s book:

Learn how to deal with the peculiar problems of traditional bargaining through proven models and techniques that will help you to:

* Gain a better understanding of the dynamics of money negotiations

* Identify the recurring problems presented in those cases

* Acquaint and arm yourself with new tools to handle those challenges

* Build a model of the mediation process that will serve as a roadmap when traditional bargaining is unavoidable

* Assist the parties in traditional bargaining in a facilitative, rather than a directive way

The appendix includes proposals and counter proposals mad by Plantiffs and Defendants in over one hundred court-ordered mediations in the ssuperior courts in North Carolinea that provide the reader with a sense of the difficulty in settling a case through traditional bargaining, and the frequency of settlement even when the parties’ intial positions are far apart and movement is slow to materialize.

Amazon, among many other vendors have it available.

Cross-border Internet Dispute Book Review

March 5, 2009

Cross-border Internet Dispute Book Review

Publisher’s summary [here]
Interested in Online Dispute Resolution (ODR)? A new book is out on such a topic.

“The internet has the potential to increase the number of cross-border disputes between a wide range of different users. For many internet disputes, the use of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) becomes critical. ODR uses information technology (such as expert systems) and internet communication applications (such as webforms or web filing platforms) to resolve disputes outside the courts. Although ODR is a progeny of ADR, using some of the same processes such as mediation and arbitration, ODR is also different in that it adds new and transformative technology and processes. This book sets out the process standards with which ODR, and in particular online arbitration, should comply and shows how these standards can be implemented in the real world. It considers applicable law and enforcement, thus providing a blueprint of how online arbitration processes should be devised.
• Synthesises recent thinking on due process in arbitration, taking into consideration the problem of dispute resolution on the internet and internet regulation to produce ideas of how traditional arbitration needs to be adapted • Tables and diagrams explain procedural fairness and make clear the book’s philosophical underpinnings • Includes recommendations for operators of websites, internet platforms, payment providers, online service providers, dispute resolution institutions and governments”
Back in January 2007, the European Parliament held a conference and published a briefing on “Redress & Alternative Dispute Resolution in Cross-border E-Commerce Transactions”, read it [here]