Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Closing the Deal in Mediation: How do you Speed the Process?

As another year has seemingly flown by, I close this year's blog with a question about rushing through the process of negotiation.  After reading the briefs, and 10 years of experience as a mediator,  I am sometimes tempted to predict the outcome of the negotiation and once the discussions get "on track"--would like to get to 6:00 at about 4:00 P.M.  This is, in my opinion, always a mistake! 

Just as childhood or work experience, the trying moments in life pass excruciatingly slowly, yet the years fly swiftly by.  I read an editorial in the New York Times last weekend about a man who worked in a prison where the prisoner wanted to change the clock to mark the months, rather than the minutes that he had left to remain in prison.  Minutes and even hours, were immaterial to him.  Only years matter when he was serving time behind bars.

People in conflict usually come to a mediation after months or years equally imprisoned by their anger, frustration, griefs and fears.  In a single day, we mediators hope to guide them through the ordeal and set them free.  Clients and their lawyers, on the other hand, need to vent and be heard.  Both client and lawyer need a chance to fully articulate their well-considered opinion before compromise can be achieved. Skipping over the facts towards the march to an inevitable negotiation is an error for the overly eager! 

I wish you all a happy and successful New Year and I wish for each of us to have the wisdom and grace to slow down, if only for a moment, before another year has passed.