Re-Think Your Mediation Strategy

They say you can’t reinvent the wheel. Maybe so, but using old ways often leads to failed expectations. It’s worth pausing to consider other ways to approach mediation sessions, which may lead to positive results for you and your clients.
Be Real
Use your opening to begin a conversation. Ask questions, offer ideas and admit weaknesses for consideration. These techniques will be more likely to prompt answers as opposed to rehashing the same arguments you’d use in a courtroom. This strategy deflects positional attitudes that undermine receptiveness and sends a clear message that you’re open to a truly productive discussion. Then, listen and look carefully to the counsel and parties for signals.
Be Upfront
Reduce “horsetrading” and break that ice by setting out your client's numbers before you leave the plenary room. Discuss them openly. This suggestion might go against everything you believe to be true about how to “play your hand.” But, your unconventional strategy will catch attention and create an open environment that is more likely lead to flexibility. It may not be the right strategy for every negotiation, but when employed smartly it can be a game-changer.
Be Vigilant
Who's not here and does it matter? The absence of non-attending decision-makers can derail settlements, sometimes at critical moments. So, its absolutely essential to know who these decision makers are beforehand if possible and what kind of influence they might have on discussions. Teleconference them into private conversations right at the start and solicit their views to obtain buy-in that is more likely to reassure your client.
Be Mindful
Mindfulness and relaxation techniques are the special sauce that is a key ingredient to any mediation. As the session continues, tension creeps up and it becomes easier to say “no.” Recognise this as critical; leave the room for a breath of fresh air, have the client (you too perhaps) break from participants briefly...and stay off the phone! There’s nothing like a phone screen with dozens of waiting messages and emails to raise anxiety levels. Talk quietly with the mediator and then re-consider matters.
Be Flexible
Above all, remember that there is no one right way to negotiate. Different personalities, different issues, and different situations in the mediation room call for different responses.
Be comfortable in your own skin. Authenticity matters. A strategy that makes you inherently uncomfortable is not the right strategy for you. You will be a far more effective participant if you are true to yourself and not playing a part in a stage play. An experienced mediator will have developed the kind of flexibility and awareness to read the situation well.
If you’re stumped as to how to move the discussion on track, avail yourself of the mediator’s knowledge to help facilitate tricky and tense discussions.
CONTACT ME with any questions about mediation or comments about my philosophy.