Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Rehearsing Your Lines for a critical Scene

Actors rarely ad lib, though they present their character with the utmost of conviction.  Trial lawyers carefully rehearse their opening arguments and sometimes their key examinations.  So why do we presume to relax the rules at a mediation simply because it's an informal process?  From my perspective, when you ask your mediator to deliver some message that she thinks may come across as outrageous, it's worth a brief rehearsal.  Likewise, when you are asking your mediator to bluff in the negotiation stance, or to hold on to confidential information which the other side may find critical to a better evaluation, it pays to rehears the scene before deputizing your messenger.  The third reason I like to rehearse my lines is because occasionally, when you play back a ridiculous message, the sender will push "delete" instead of "send".  We can all take care not to haphazardly deliver critical lines in the course of a mediation by a simple rehearsal.  That way, if the message comes across as arrogant, deceptive or mean, you can work on ways to soften it before it is delivered, or come up with new lines altogether. 

Another advantage to rehearsals in mediation is that your mediator may be able to reframe the message to take the sting out.  So, for example, if you are about to offer "nuisance value" and it happens that the dollar amount equates to one month of lost salary, or one month of rent or one semester of tuition at a local community college, she can communicate the offer in a more positive light, thus creating a more receptive adversary--one who is not insulted or offended, but encouraged and respected.