I write this in the aftermath of yet another mediation in which the protagonists exhibited symptoms of having been seriously traumatised by the litigation process to which they had been exposed. Depression, suicidal thoughts, anger, loathing, destroyed relationships, large amounts of money spent with no discernible value. And this was a commercial situation, not a…

What mediators do with words

‘The world is made, not found’ (W. Barnett Pearce) (1) I just spent an intensive weekend on Zoom with my students, helping them navigate their early steps into mediation practice. So much has changed. I have never met most of them face to face; we sit at home on our screens; there are no coffee…

“The grandchildren put out a treble tongue, Law is the senses of the young” W H Auden, “Law like Love” “In a room where people unanimously maintain a conspiracy of silence, one word of truth sounds like a pistol shot.” ― Czesław Miłosz (Polish-American poet, 1911-2004) A couple of months ago, our 15-year old granddaughter,…

Introduction “A great many people think they are thinking when they are merely rearranging their prejudices.” William James Whether as mediators, advisors or parties in dispute, we consider ourselves rational, open minded thinkers. We make decisions in an objective, non-biased fashion, don’t we? Sadly, not often. We are all susceptible to a swarm of cognitive…

Mediation can be an intense experience for parties and their advisers. Often there is a lot on the line. In the substance there may be money, control, reputation, pride. In the process, there are challenges such as influencing other parties, getting the best deal possible, making well-informed judgment calls about risk, developing effective offers, and…

At a certain point, when another offer was denied, one of the managers showed a real disappointment with the hard negotiation approach presented by the other party: “You know what?! I lost my patience. I will not sit here any further… I will ask my lawyer to finish the formalities and let’s see each other…

“If two people are in a room, there are actually six to consider: “What each person is; what each person thinks he or she is; and what each person thinks the other is.” So began a recent Guardian editorial on relations between Iran and the USA. This observation is attributed to the late wife of…

A recent visit to Japan coincided with the inauguration of the new Emperor Naruhito and the start of what has been designated as the ‘Reiwa’ era. This is officially translated as beautiful harmony, although other interpretations have also mentioned order and control! At the ceremony to mark his ascension to the Chrysanthemum Throne the new…

“The pessimist sees difficulty in every opportunity. The optimist sees the opportunity in every difficulty.” – Winston Churchill Improving Habit of Thinking The popular quote attributed to the former British prime minister is easily adaptable to mediation. The optimistic mediator considers the mediated settlement probable and helps the parties by spreading the friendly and promising…