Archive for the ‘negotiation’ Category

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.

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Online Dispute Resolution

June 30, 2009

Recently I had a conversation with someone in regards to Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) and how the person thought it had less human interaction compared to traditional ADR methods. I responded saying I actually think instead of viewing as ‘less’ or ‘more’, it is another choice for the parties. ODR is a new form of human interaction.
It reminds me of a teaching of impermanence– nothing stays the same regardless of how much you like or dislike it. ODR has arrived because people find it useful with the growing use of the Internet and computers. It does not mean it is for everyone and it does not have to be. It is just like hybrids versions of ADR– new ones keep popping up as people’s preferences change and evolve.

The variety of ADR services, now including ODR/iDR I think is reflective of the world we currently live in. Yes, we are ‘global citizens’ more now than ever but there is still that uniqueness that is present and should be acknowledged. Mediation via email or txt is str8 2 da pt 4 sum ppl & that is a good thing.

No idea what that means? No idea what the LOL image means? Embrace technology- Learn text talk here.
For others, letting some machine automate some number that is supposed to make both sides happy works for them. For the stubborn and ancient dinosaurs, there is face to face mediation still. Of course the last comment is sarcastic but my point is look how ADR has evolved. It is an example of the impermanence I mentioned earlier. As times change, it is only natural that the way we as conflict resolvers look at conflict and then appropriately adjust to the parties needs. Let’s not forget, it is their process.
Self determination (recently discussed here) is a major reason people turn to ADR. People like having a say in how issues that directly affect them will be decided. Conflict could be broken down into three levels- substantive, psychological and procedural. It is in the third, procedural, where the new world of ODR has given the parties yet another choice on how to interact with the other party.

44 Ways to Listen Like a Great Negotiator

January 21, 2009

44 Ways to Listen Like a Great Negotiator

Jens Thang has written some good articles on various negotiating and mediation tips. One is the above title that I think is worth a quick read. I think it is safe to say he finds it important not to speak or interupt (note points 1, 12, 32, 41).

His site is http://www.thenegotiationguru.com/ but unfortunately it has not been updated since May 2008.

From http://www.thenegotiationguru.com/44-ways-on-how-to-listen-like-all-great-negotiators

1) Ask questions
2) Give acknowledgments
3) Shut-up
4) Paraphrase
5) Follow-up
6) Positive body language
7) Keep nodding your head
8). Say lots of “mm”s
9) Take notes
10) Allow him to finish his sentences
11) Keep an open mind
12) Shut-up (again!)
13) Give full attention
14) Give feedback
15) Don’t get distracted by surroundings
16) Don’t get distracted by your inner thoughts
17) Listen with your face
18) Maintain eye contact
19) Avoid getting emotionally involved
20) Don’t think of what you are going to say
21) Lean forward
22) Summarize what you have heard
23) Empathy, Empathy, Empathy
24) Be genuinely interested
25) Put yourself in his shoes
26) Respect everything he has to say
27) Turn off your cellphone
28) Remove your watch
29) Don’t look at the clock
30) Encourage him to elaborate
31) Ask meaningful questions
32) Shut-up
33) Show that you are open to what he has to say
34) Speak at the same volume
35) Speak at the same rate
36) Be patient
37) Be comfortable with pauses
38) Give reassurance to the other party
39) Accept the fact that everyone has her own style of expression
40) Ask empowering questions
41) Did I say “Shut-up”?
42) Say “Uh-huhs”
43) Smile
43) Agree with what the speaker has to say
44) Do everything I have listed in MODERATION (except for the “shut-up”s)

News Links 1.18.09

January 18, 2009

News Links For 1.18.09

Obama Must Focus on Conflict Resolution & Developement in Africa (cfr.org)
Many are hoping incoming President Barack Obama will devote special attention and resources to Africa. But given the enormity of the global financial crisis and challenges in managing two wars and multiple crises in the Greater Middle East, Obama is expected to give little immediate attention to the continent where his father was born…

DOJ Mediators to Assess BART Shooting (AP)
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Justice Department has sent mediators to Oakland, Calif., to help resolve tensions arising from the fatal New Year’s Day shooting of an unarmed black man by a white transit police officer.
The officials are from the department’s Community Relations Service, which was created by the 1964 Civil Rights Act to help resolve and prevent racial and ethnic conflict and violence.

Rent a Judge (nationalpost.com)
California lawyer/entrepreneur Rafael Chodo has created RENT-A-JUDGETM, “an innovative new service that combines litigation and mediation to provide an alternative to traditional court proceedings”: a fixed-cost ($10,000) one-day trial. The parties share the cost equally and RENT-A-JUDGE provides a written opinion within five business days of trial.
Just another step along the road to changing the way law is practiced

Mediation reduces values by $2.05 million for 40 (timesleader.com)
Another $2.05 million has been knocked off the assessed values of 40 Luzerne County properties that went through court-level mediation, according to a review of settlement orders.

That brings the total mediation reductions to $2.59 million for 56 settlements reached to date.
Property owners undergo mediation when they challenge their county assessment appeal board rulings to the Court of Common Pleas. The county appeal board solicitor and property owner must both agree to the settlement amounts…

US Does Not Consider Mediation In Cyprus (oberservercyprus.com)
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for European and Eurasian Affairs, Matthew Bryza stated that the US is not a party to the ongoing negotiation process in Cyprus and did not consider acting as a mediator in the process…

Mediators Help Halt 400 Foreclosures (connpost.com)
In its first five months, Connecticut’s judicial mediation program helped more than 500 families keep their homes.
“The success of the program is encouraging,” Roberta Palmer, the judicial mediation program director, said Thursday, the same day she delivered a report on the program to a Judicial Branch committee reviewing foreclosure procedures.
There is room for improvement, according to Palmer and Sen. Bob Duff, D-Norwalk and a co-chair of the banking committee, who hopes to fine tune the program as it develops.
Public Act 08-176, which was signed into law June 12, created the mediation program.