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Conflict Resolution Mediation Speaking & Training

Resolving conflicts through negotiation

negociationResolving conflicts through negotiation.

Resolving Conflict is a part of life. Negotiation is how conflicts are resolved. Hopefully, they can be resolved peacefully and to the satisfaction of both parties to the conflict. It is also part of any leaders skill set. Therefore, some of these blog postings will deal with ways a leader can help resolve conflicts.

I hope to provide useful information on:

  • Know and articulate several ways that good leadership can minimize conflict.
  • Understand how the acronym E.A.R. can be used as a tool for resolving conflicts (Express, Address, Resolve).
  • Use several communications skills important for resolving conflicts
  • Know negotiating skills to resolve conflicts for the benefit of all parties to the conflict.

All conflict resolution involves negotiation. Therefore as a starting point, let’s look at the definition and characteristics of negotiation.

What is Negotiation

Negotiation is a voluntary, non-binding bargaining process, in which the parties to a dispute attempt resolution among themselves.  Often, agents of the disputing parties (their lawyers, real estate agents, accountants, and so forth), who are in actual communication with each other, are the negotiators.  The actual disputing persons sometimes do not meet or participate in direct discussions until most, or all, of the dispute has been resolved.

Characteristics of Negotiation

The chief characteristics of negotiation are:

  • Mutual Consent. Negotiation is voluntary.  The parties cannot be compelled to negotiate or even negotiate in good faith.  Negotiations cease when one party declines to continue.
  • Successful Result is Enforceable. A negotiated settlement, usually memorialized in a written agreement, is as valid and enforceable as any common law contract.
  • The parties and/or their agents are in personal contact with each other.  A third party neutral is involved in negotiations.
  • No statute or case law governs the process of negotiation.  Some prefer to negotiate in person.  Others use letters, e-mail, or telephone calls.  Still others negotiate through agents or intermediaries.
  • Negotiation is a process, taking place over time, as opposed to a single meeting or a brief exchange of correspondence.
  • Negotiators share facts and arguments often in a disorganized manner.  Negotiators posture and obfuscate, misstate the law, rail and threat and bluff, implore and cajole, and mix fact with fiction, exaggeration, and lies, during a series of back-and-forth communications.
  • Negotiations are usually conducted in private.  Publicity is anathema to a frank exchange of opinions, offers, and demands negotiations.

For an experienced Mediator to help negotiate a resolution to your dispute contact Ken Strongman. Here.

Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
Conflict Resolution Mediation Speaking & Training

A handy tool for resolving conflicts.

conflict tool
Tool for resolving conflicts

A very handy tool for approaching any conflict situation that needs to be resolved is E.A.R. 

Ask the people involved to:

Express – What you want and what are you doing to get it.

Address – Why it is working or not working.

Resolve – What ways there are to solve the situation.

**For the last decade I’ve been involved with leadership development of tomorrow’s leaders.  Using my expertise, I am training the youth leaders in conflict resolution.  This blog is adapted from my training materials. 

 

Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

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Conflict Resolution Mediation Speaking & Training

Mediators Playing the Devil’s Advocate

Devil's Advocate
Devil’s Advocate

Mediators Playing the Devil ’s Advocate

Devil’s Advocate is one of the roles of a mediator. A good mediator such as myself, does not forfeit his personal opinions simply because he serves as a neutral facilitator. These opinions and preconceptions can help inform certain beliefs. However, a strong mediator knows how to view a case from multiple angles. This is an important quality to possess as it helps provide a counter point to a party or attorney’s one-sided approach.

A Strong Mediator

A strong mediator gives consideration to the strengths and weaknesses of both sides. When in a private caucus with one side, the mediator may mention a potential weakness in this side’s argument. He may even ask the party what his or her argument would be if he or she was on the other side. He or she may get the attorney to contemplate the same scenario and ask for facts and legal theories that would support the other side.
By recognizing the strengths of the other side and the weaknesses of their own side, parties can start to contemplate the potential of what would happen if they lose. This can often inspire them to fully participate in negotiations so that they can avoid the possibility of losing the case or facing other adverse effects.

Sounding Board

Mediator is a “sounding board” for your arguments, and for offers/counter offers. I can deal with the hypotheticals and be a “coach”, to deliver bad news and explain opponents’ responses to offers. I, as a strong mediator give you an opportunity to explain the case to a neutral person help you and your attorney evaluate your case. Finally, a good mediator helps identify components of solutions from your stand point and delivers bad news to both sides.

Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

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Arbritration FAQ Mediation

FAQ: Are Retired Judges Better Mediators?

Stinson Beach, Dip Sea Trail, CP XC Team

FAQ: Are Retired Judges Better Mediators?

It is assumed that a retired judge makes a better mediator than someone that has not been a judge.  This couldn’t be further from the truth. 

Rendering judgment requires an entirely different skill set than helping the parties resolve their case through mediation.  The day to day activities of a judge do not lend themselves to facilitating the resolution of conflicts.  The basic skill that is useful to a judge but not a mediator is the ability to make quick and final decisions on any particular issue. Therefore when they approach mediation they want to make the decision and not let the parties control their own solution to the problem.

It is assumed that 20-years on the bench translates to 20-years experience working with civil attorneys and parties and the issues of civil litigation.  In most courts today, very few judges are presiding over civil trials.  Most of their days as spent presiding over criminal trials.  Even the remaining time of their tenure on the bench is divided between family law, juvenile, probate, and traffic.

The law practice of most judges before being appointed to the bench is not as a civil attorney.  Many were deputy district attorneys or public defenders before becoming judges.  Therefore they have no experience with any civil issues before becoming judges.

Mediation is a voluntary process that centers on discussions and decision-making, rather than judgment by a judge or retired judge. It is focused on resolving disputes based on the factual circumstances, the needs of the parties and practicality, and not solely on the legal rights of the parties. Often, the mere presence of a retired judge creates an antagonistic and adversarial atmosphere that impedes resolution rather than assisting it.

 In reality you want a mediator such as me that is trained in helping the parties resolve their problems.

Ken Strongman, MediatorAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
Conflict Resolution Mediation Speaking & Training

Listening is the best way to resolve conflicts.

listening
Listening to resolve conflicts

The better the information you have, the greater your chances of finding a workable solution.  Listen carefully to what others are saying, not judging until you hear everyone’s story.  Be aware of tone of voice, body language, and other clues.  Understand what each person is expressing – what he wants and what he is willing to do to get there.  Then clarify that the solution lies with all parties. 

Listen carefully to what others are saying without judgment until you have everyone’s side of the story.  Clarify what you have heard and then reframe it back to each party.  Remember the solution lays with both parties not you.

**For the last decade I’ve been involved with leadership development of tomorrow’s leaders.  Using my expertise, I am training the youth leaders in conflict resolution.  This blog is adapted from my training materials. 

 

Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

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Arbritration FAQ Mediation

What am I getting for my money when I hire a mediator?

Hire a mediator
Hire a mediator.

What am I actually getting for my money when I hire a mediator?

When you hire me as your mediator, you are buying the opportunity, through a neutral third party, to evaluate with someone who is an objective “sounding board,” your real needs (personal, economic, spiritual, etc.) and to evaluate which dispute resolution process will best help you meet those needs.

*    You are buying my opinions and impressions of “your first juror,” as to existing information/evidence and that which is non-existent.

*    You are buying an opportunity to become more informed of the risks and benefits involved in resolving or litigating a dispute.

*    You are buying an opportunity to address and resolve differences of opinion or expectation between you and your client, you and other professionals or between several clients (business partners, etc.).

*    In addition, you are buying many things that can’t be quantified, unique to your particular dispute, which come with the intervention of an experienced neutral.

I am usually hired as a mediator because of my perceived ability to resolve a dispute.

Mediators don’t settle cases, parties do! What you are really buying are choices.  My value as a mediator is my expertise in guiding all of the parties involved in a dispute to a point where there are new, real and often difficult choices created. It is up to you to evaluate those choices, in light of the insights you gain through the mediation process, and choose that one which will end the dispute in the manner that brings you the most complete resolution. In getting to that point, whether that choice is to accept a proposed settlement or continue on the path to litigation, you have gotten “your money’s worth”.

Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
Conflict Resolution Mediation Speaking & Training

Teaching youth how to resolve conflicts.

Teaching youth how to resolve conflicts.

I’m privileged to be an adult staff member for a National Youth Leadership Training (NYLT) course.  It is a very satisfying experience and a lot of fun.  One key topic on the course is how to resolve conflicts as a leader.  This blog is adapted from this course.

Leading the youth through this necessary topic allows me to bring my professional expertise in settling disputes to the more practical issues of conflict resolution.   The course can be applied to any situation as a young person or adult.

The learning objectives of the conflict resolution course are:

  1. Know and articulate several ways that good leadership can minimize conflict.
  2. Understand how the acronym E.A.R.  can be used as a tool for resolving conflicts (Express, Address, Resolve).
  3. Use several communications skills important for resolving conflicts
  4. Know when, as a leader, the resolution of a conflict is beyond your expertise and how to seek help in resolving the conflict.

Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
Arbritration FAQ Mediation

If I, as mediator, give my opinion in a dispute, doesn’t that mean I am biased?

FAQ_Mediation Mendocino 03 opinion
Is an opinion bias?

 

If I, as mediator, give my opinion in a dispute, doesn’t that mean I am biased?

Absolutely not!  I as mediator form opinions on many issues for many reasons.

One of the primary things I do as mediator is to help you to evaluate the pros and cons of your position in a dispute and provide you with the information you need in order to make an educated decision about resolution. My opinion is critical to this process and will likely be based on the totality of the information from both sides, not merely that of one party. Although because of confidentiality, I may not be able to disclose the information to you, having an opinion from an unbiased source, based on such information may be very helpful to you in making choices.

Ken Strongman, MediatorAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

Categories
Conflict Resolution Mediation Speaking & Training

Don’t be afraid of anger – angry people can’t lie.

don't be afraid
Don’t be afraid.

Don’t be afraid of anger – angry people can’t lie.

The first step to resolve any conflict is to defuse anger.  But do not be afraid of anger.  An angry person can’t lie because anger is a primitive emotional response.  To lie, you must control your emotions and turn on your intellect.  So when someone is angry, whatever they are telling you contains some truth.  Beware that this does not stop good actors.  A good actor merely appears to be angry as they try to control the situation

There are several reasons for anger:

To vent. An angry person needs to let off steam and release the anger that may have been brewing for a long time.  To resolve the conflict you need to allow this to happen, but try to control it by reframing their issues. 

To get the listener’s attention. An angry person wants to know that you are paying attention.  Use good listening skills to demonstrate that you are paying attention.

To be heard. An angry person wants someone to listen to their point of view.  To resolve the conflict, you need to acknowledge the feelings you hear so that the speaker knows you appreciate how angry they are.

To be understood. An angry person wants someone to appreciate how they feel.  Therefore try to empathize with their experience so that they feel you understand the situation, and acknowledge their ‘right’ to feel the way they do.  This does not mean that you should agree with their justification.  You do want to remain neutral in the conflict and not pick sides.

**For the last decade I’ve been involved with leadership development of tomorrow’s leaders.  Using my expertise, I am training the youth leaders in conflict resolution.  This blog is adapted from my training materials. 

 

Ken StrongmanAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.

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Preliminary Tasks for a Mediation

How are you going to deal with them after the dispute?

Philmont Scout Ranch Deal
Deal with the future

The resolution of a dispute does not just occur on the day of the mediation.   Each participant to mediation needs to prepare their own strategy for negotiation in the settlement.  Based on my experience as a mediator, these are a collection of tasks each participant needs to complete and to discuss with their council and the mediator before the mediation.

These tasks and the discussion with the mediator are confidential.   They are confidential under both Attorney Client privilege and under mediation confidential provisions in court rules, statutes, and standards.

Task #4: How are you going to deal with them after the dispute?

In the previous task, you were asked to describe what you wanted life and/or business to look like five years after the dispute has been resolved.   This task is more focused on how you are going to deal with your opponents five to ten years after the dispute is resolved.

The easy answer to this question is that ‘I never want anything to do with them again.’  If the dispute is an automobile accident then that might work as an answer.  But if your opponents are commercial suppliers, customers, fellow businesses in a limited market, employees or employers, neighbors, and even family, the question becomes a lot more challenging.

I have mediated boundary line and other disputes between neighbors.  It becomes a lot more difficult to resolve when both neighbors realize that they will still be living next door to each other for possibly decades.  I have also mediated disputes with family owned business.  They had to take into account the likelihood of having to sit down for Thanksgiving dinner with each other.  There were also the unintended impacts on other family relationships that were not in dispute.  Commercial enterprises need to evaluate the publicity of the dispute and the possible need for an on going business relationship now and in the future.

Carefully list and count the costs regarding different solutions to the dispute.  Might there be a better settlement that reduces future conflict.  Also evaluate the costs of litigating the dispute to its conclusion on the future relationship to your opponents.

Ken Strongman, MediatorAbout the Author: Ken Strongman (www.kpstrongman.com) has years of experience and a growing national reputation as a mediator and arbitrator.  He has successfully resolved more than a thousand disputes in the fields of construction defects, real estate, intellectual property, and employment.  He is also a Mediator and Arbitrator for FINRA.

© 2020 Ken Strongman. All Rights Reserved. Please do not copy or repost without permission.