Consumers In Debt: Know Your Rights!

The Chicago Tribune has an article on debt collect tips that consumers should know.

They are:

  1. Answer the phone

  2. Be brief

  3. Know the times they are allowed to call

  4. Ask for verification of the debt in writing

  5. Give them a time frame

  6. Make a deal (added by me: use a mediator if needed)

  7. Keep good records

For a Full description of the tips, read the article [here]
I came across this site, Credit Mediation Services, an Australian company of "professional negotiators" that helps you "typically lower your debt by over 50%". They specialize in Credit Cards, Store Cards, Personal loans, Trade debts, Old secured debts, and School debts.

To no surprise, there is no mention anywhere of what the fees are or how they go about charging the clients.
In many situations, the people being taken to court by debt collection agencies are not represented by an attorney. Getting tips like simply asking for proof of ownership of the debt is paramount to the direction of the case. The problem is many people do not know this and only come across this information after hiring a debt assistance company to help.

In response to that, if any people out there reading this is in that situation, I might have saved you some money :)
There are also many other free resources out there that can provide assistance. Many court systems give out free booklets when choosing to represent yourself. Mediators, new and old, might want to track it down in your local jurisdiction to further educate yourself if you mediate debt related cases.
read more "Consumers In Debt: Know Your Rights!"

Mobile Mediation and Negotiation Tips 2.26.09

Here is today's mobile mediation and negotiation tips. What do I mean by 'mobile'? I am thinking of this and typing it while on the train so enjoy!

5 Tips For Using Silence As A Tool

1- It puts the pressure on the other party (meaning it's not on you). By feeling the need to say something in order to break the silence will possibly get them to move away from their position, and give you insight on their interests.

newbies: remember, it is usually better to mediate/negotiate on interests compared to positions; it helps with expanding the pie and all that good stuff.

2- it let's the other party continue speaking, which allows them the feeling of being heard (note, for this, silence should be combined with other tools like nodding, open-ended questions, etc.)

3- Silence tests how firm they are in the comment they just made. If they feel strong about it, they will repeat it.

4- it gives you time to think.

5- it helps you remain cool (heck, combine it with three breathes!) so you will respond, NOT react.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

(edited later to add color and change the font to 'arial' because everyone knows arial is much better than times new roman, right?)
read more "Mobile Mediation and Negotiation Tips 2.26.09"

Mediation & ADR News

New Foreclosure Mediation Costlier and Longer
Several bankers said the mandatory mediation program for home mortgage foreclosure lawsuits ordered Friday by the chief judge of the Treasure Coast court system could increase the cost and length of the cases.

...“I have mixed feelings about it. I understand what the reason is, but any time the judicial system or the government gets involved, I think it could be troublesome,” said Bill Pittenger, senior vice president at Seacoast National Bank in Stuart. “I hate to see anything interfere with the free market and we’ve seen a lot of that lately.”

Full article [here]

Activists Seek to End Street Violence

Ministers and community activists gathered Sunday at a spot a few steps away from where three teenagers were gunned down Friday afternoon in the South Chicago neighborhood.

"Violence is definitely a sickness. It's a disease, and we need to start treating it like a disease," he said. "I want youth to know that they can call CeaseFire before someone gets shot."Hardiman said he can be reached at 773-391-9072 for mediation services. He hopes CeaseFire will be able to go into schools in the neighborhood to tell students they can call on CeaseFire to mediate conflicts.

Full article [here]

Swedish Diplomat Shares Insights on Conflict Resolution

BEIRUT: Swedish diplomat and long-time conflict negotiator Jan Eliasson shared his experiences and outlined a general plan for conflict resolution on his fourth trip to Lebanon during a lecture yesterday at the American University of Beirut dubbed, "Peace-Making Under the United Nations Flag: Reflection on a Quarter Century of Mediation."
Eliasson, who served as Special Envoy of the United Nations Secretary General for Darfur from 2007-2008 and worked extensively to secure peace during the Iran/Iraq war in the 1980s, said that effective resolutions must involve the right actors, be well-timed and take into account cultural and communicative aspects.

Full article [here]

India-Pak Don't Need Chinese Mediation

I usually put just a tidbit of an article, then put a link to it, but the article is this short (really):

New Delhi: Union Minister of state for home Sri Prakash Jaiswal has assured that Pakistan will get the desired reply from India soon that will help the neighbouring country to successfully complete its probe in 26/11 terror attacks case.However, the minister refused any mediation from China. Talking to the reporters he said, 'No mediator is required for solving issues between India and Pakistan and any kind of arbitration will not be tolerated.''India is capable of handing attacks,' he further added.

Don't believe me, see how short it is [here]

Sync Your Blackberry Contacts with Google
Not really mediation related or maybe? For those out there like me who constantly has their Blackberry at their side and use Gmail, this is a great new feature. You can now sync your contacts together, which for your Blackberry, it also serves as a way to back up your information on Gmail too.

Read it [here]
read more "Mediation & ADR News"

Owners no Jackasses, Keep Jackass Website!

Owners No Jackasses, Keeps Jackass Website
For those who remember, I posted about dispute resolution and the internet a few weeks back. I found this charm of a story and had to post it here:
The World Intellectual Property Organization has the thankless job of overseeing Internet domain name disputes, but few can have been as surreal as the just-concluded case brought by US media giant Viacom. The company sought control of from a "serial cyber-squatter" based in the Virgin Islands who was (and is) using the domain to show pay-per-click ads. When hauled before WIPO to explain himself, the owner insisted that it had taken six years in order to ready the "website about donkeys" that was actually planned for the domain.
WIPO panelist John Swinson, not being a jackass himself, recognized a load of donkey manure when he saw it, but he still
refused to hand the domain over to Viacom, which will have to settle for instead.
Full story [here]
In domain disputes, three key criteria must be proven by the contesting party:
1) Is the name identical or confusinlgy similar to a trademark of the contesting party?
2) Did the purchaser have any legitimate claim/interests to the title or subject of the domain name?3) Was the domain bought in bad faith?

God, Australia, Mediation"Social justice" and "solidarity" - those were two themes touched on with frequency and passion at the 9:00am mass at Saint Mary's Church in South Brisbane on Sunday.
A colourful crowd of over 1,000 turned out for the morning mass to support Father Peter Kennedy, who was sacked by the Catholic Church for allegedly flouting church rules but defied the order by participating in mass.
...Archbishop Bathersby has called for mediation between Fr Kennedy and the Archdiocese, and says he is looking for a peaceful and dignified resolution of the current impasse.
Full Story [here]

Mediation For Internet Kiwi Pirates?
Are there even Pirates in New Zealand?
Movie and music industry bosses have pulled back from a hardline approach and are belatedly considering a plan for an independent mediator to oversee protracted complaints between them and telcos.
The idea is that a mediator will be a go-between in protracted internet piracy complaints where copyright holders claim an illegal download, but it is denied by ISP customers.
The mediator plan might ease the tense relationship between the hard-nosed Hollywood-led approach and telcos disgruntled about policing copyright holders' property rights.

Full Story [here]
read more "Owners no Jackasses, Keep Jackass Website!"

Unrest in Caribbean Has Roots in Slavery Past

Unrest in Caribbean Has Roots in Slavery Past

I read about this about a week ago and it stuck in my mind. So, when I saw it again on the homepage of Yahoo! News, I decided to write about it. An additional factor driving me to write about this is that as mediators and negotiators, we are always promoting 'expanding the pie'. there are plenty of times I blog on 'typical' ADR and mediation news stories so why not expand the realm and mention this? Reading this story, there is a heap of built up anger, frustration, resentment and other emotions dating back over a century- yes a century, not years!

From the article:
POINTE-A-PITRE, Guadeloupe – Protests that have nearly shut down the French Caribbean islands of Guadeloupe and Martinique are not just about demands for lower prices and higher wages: For demonstrators they are no less than a battle against the vestiges of slavery.
Afro-Caribbean islanders — most of whose forbears toiled in the sugarcane fields under the yoke of slavery more than 160 years ago — not only resent France's handling of the global economic crisis, they have long resented that slaveholders' descendants control the economy on both islands.
They also suspect that businesses earn too high a profit on goods, most of which are imported.

...The protests are "not a call for war, but for dignity..."

...Several islanders blame the arrival of 450 French riot police for the violence that has erupted during protests — and say it shows how France treats the islands like colonies.
Full article [here]
Where can mediation or negotiation fit in? Have there been any type of talks between the haves and have-nots? Is the arrival of the riot police seen as instigating an already powder-keg in the making?

Admittedly, my knowledge of the situation is limited but one route towards a possible peaceful solution is using The Third Side Model and exploring options that promote cooperative negotiation.

The Third Side is a book and concept created by William Ury (for sale [here] and many other places) which says in conflicts, there are roles for everyone. They are broken down to ten:
Bridge Builder
read more on them [here]

The good sign already coming out is the protest leaders and the French Government are already negotiating.

"Protest leaders and government officials are still negotiating to lower the costs of housing, gasoline, water and electricity."

Hopefully dialogue will continue towards a peaceful resolution.
read more "Unrest in Caribbean Has Roots in Slavery Past"

Blogging on the Go!

Yes, technology has made another advancement here at the Enjoy Mediation Blog. I am now able to post updates from my mobile phone.
If you are asking why, and who cares, so am I!
Now that we have that out of the way, think about all the great news that I can now post I can't think of anything at the moment either.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend and sleep easier tonight knowing my blogging has gone mobile.
Sent from my Verizon Wireless BlackBerry

(note: the photo was added later)
read more "Blogging on the Go!"

Hillary Clinton: Currency Before Compassion?

Human Rights Second, Money First?
Is this the same direction that we thought the Obama Administration was going to head in? What happened to Conflict Resolution, Alternative Dispute Resolution, Mediation as well as Negotiation? For those who thought the USA planned on pressing China on human rights issues, newly appointed Secretary of State and former First Lady, Hillary Clinton, said the following on her first to to Asia including China:

WASHINGTON (AFP) – Amnesty International and a pro-Tibet group voiced shock Friday after US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton vowed not to let human rights concerns hinder cooperation with China.
Paying her first visit to Asia as the top US diplomat, Clinton said the United States would continue to press China on long-standing US concerns over human rights such as its rule over Tibet.
"But our pressing on those issues can't interfere on the global economic crisis, the global climate change crisis and the security crisis," Clinton told reporters in Seoul just before leaving for Beijing. [full AP story here]

I did not expect humans rights to necessarily be the only factor and topic of discussion when she arrives on her first visit but to start things off with this comment?

Very surprising and confusing. Add to that the latest reports [here] of the Chinese military cracking down on Tibetans protesting and it is easy to get the impression that China will not have to worry about any substantial concerns from America.

Is negotiation as well as conflict resolution only good for getting deals done on the world economy? I hope somehow there is more to this story then what has been reported so far.
Edit: I did some research of her past comments in regards to China, and more specifically the unrest in Lhasa, Tibet and other areas of Spring 2008.
From Students for a Free Tibet: (March 2008)
I am deeply concerned about the violent clashes that have erupted in Lhasa, Tibet. Based on the limited information available, there is an urgent need for all parties, and in particular the Chinese security forces, to exercise restraint, to demonstrate respect for human rights and to protect civilians from danger. I call on the Chinese government to prevent further escalation of this conflict and to urgently pursue resolution through peaceful means.
On April 7th, CNN reported this:
Sen. Hillary Clinton called on President Bush Monday to boycott the opening of this summer's Olympic Games in Beijing, China.
In a statement released by her campaign Monday, the New York senator pointed to recent protests in Tibet; and to the Chinese government's failure to pressure the government of Sudan to end the violence in Darfur.
"These events underscore why I believe the Bush administration has been wrong to downplay human rights in its policy towards China," said Clinton.
President Obama had this to say on April 8th, 2008 (from ESPN)
"The Chinese government must take immediate steps to respect the dignity, security, human rights and religious freedom of the Tibetan people," Obama said. "If they do not, there should be consequences."
read more "Hillary Clinton: Currency Before Compassion?"

No Mediator... No Peace

The NYU 'Siege" is Now Over

The student takeover of the Kimmel Student Center Cafeteria has ended with:

1) no demands met
2) no negotiations
3) an injured security guard
4) 1 arrest for disorderly conduct
5) multiple suspensions of NYU students involved

The overall media coverage and editorials have really sided against the protesters. An example is the NY Post [here]

"With the kids' human rights indulged, they unfurled a dizzying list of 13 demands, which ran the gamut from lower tuition, to NYU pulling out investments in Israel, to giving freebies to Palestinian students. But their No. 1 demand was this: "Full legal and disciplinary amnesty for all parties involved in the occupation."

A recap of the event is [here] and local channel WCBS has a heap of videos (right side of the page) is [here].
No mediation or outside negotiators were brought in. The way the communication was handled (it seems) was the protesters submitted their demands via paper and through lower level school staff; The higher-level administration then met and discussed the situation and ultimately the only real offer from the school was for the 'siege' to end immediately and then the leaders could meet with school officials. That was quickly turned down.

From some reports, it all ended when the school asked to speak with the leaders of the group outside of the occupied area. Once out, they were then told there was going to be no negotiating but rather they were told they were now suspended. Security, whom I believe have peace officer status, then removed the remaining protesters.

Local school web-paper NYU Local cover the event (very nicely too) [here]

Finally, and oddly enough, it seems they passed time by dancing the night away. This picture seems to prove it [here]

Finally, [here] were the demands of the occupiers.
read more "No Mediator... No Peace"

New York University Under Siege

NYU Under Siege!

Well, the Kimmel Cafeteria is at least. This is still a developing story, so I will post more on it tomorrow. If you are interested, there is a blog posting updates every few minutes [here]

NY Times first broke the story [here]

From CBS:
AP) Dozens of students have barricaded themselves inside of New York University's student union cafeteria to demand increased transparency of the school's finances. The protest began about 10 p.m. Wednesday when students from various city universities gathered inside the cafeteria of the Helen & Martin Kimmel Center for University Life. Members of the coalition called Take Back NYU! pushed tables and chairs against the doors. A supporter said about 60 students were involved.
An open letter by a fellow student criticizing the 'takeover' [here]
"It is peculiarly ironic that a group of students who (presumably) oppose the Israeli occupation of Palestine choose occupation as their method of communication and conflict-resolution last night.
It is even more confusing to me that my peers, so dedicated to their activist lifestyles, did not enlist the most necessary tactics of activism in their demonstration yesterday evening. Take Back NYU – I am asking you for self-reflection. Do you think occupation is effective? Or have you merely hosted a publicity stunt void of accomplishment? As a fellow student activist who believes in your ability to make a difference, I write to you asking for clarification, transparency, solidarity, and sincerity."

Russia, Mediators, Georgia, Smiles All Around
Russia and Georgia have agreed on a mechanism to try to prevent any flareups around the breakaway South Ossetia region from turning into full-scale clashes, international mediators said on Wednesday.
The mediators hailed the accord as an important step forward in efforts to reduce tensions in the area, which sparked a brief but devastating war between the two last August, but diplomats warned that it needed to be tested on the ground.

International Herald Trbune article [here]

New Mediation Program Started In Kansas
In order to increase efficiency and resolve conflicts between consumers and businesses, Attorney General Steve Six today unveiled his new Consumer Mediation Program. It was developed to work though common consumer problems and obtain refunds and restitution without the need for legal action.
"Through my new Mediation Program, we can return money to consumers without stepping foot in a courtroom," Six said. "This program will help us efficiently assist Kansas consumers while saving on the cost of expensive litigation."

Full story [here]

Mediator Credited With Settling Fire Department Contract Dispute
OLEAN - The city of Olean and its 36 firefighters have a tentative agreement on a new contract after about two years of negotiations.Mayor David Carucci and Capt. James Bennett, president of the Olean Professional Firefighters Association, announced Tuesday afternoon that the two sides have reached a deal, but neither would comment on the specifics until the new contract is ratified by the association and Common Council.
The two sides met with a mediator from the Public Employment Relations Board (PERB) Tuesday for the second time and reached an agreement, avoiding arbitration.

Full story [here]

read more "New York University Under Siege"

Police to Nudge You to Mediation!

Singapore Police To Nudge People Towards Mediation

Hey, 'nudging' is better than dragging and macing someone into mediation, right? And if they refuse such a nudge? Well, it can be held against them if it the matter goes to court. Unfortunately the article does not clarify what that means.

This 'nudging' program started in 1998 and each year it has seen the caseload increase sixfold.

Read the short article [here]

Federal Mediators In Texas Town
PARIS, Tex. — The killing of Brandon McClelland, though horrible, never fit the classic description of a lynching. The police say two friends ran him over with a pickup truck after an argument during a night of drinking.
But Mr. McClelland was black and the men accused of killing him are white, and his gruesome death has reignited ugly feelings between races that have plagued this small town for generations, going back to the days 100 years ago when it was the scene of brutal public lynchings...
Still, the suspicions and ill will have grown so strong that the federal Department of Justice has dispatched a team of mediators to get residents to begin talking about the problem and to propose possible resolutions.
Last month, about 100 people of all races went to a building on the fairgrounds to vent their frustrations, while federal mediators took notes and tried to keep the peace.

Full article [here]

Faith Based Mediation Going Strong- Over 20 Years In Indiana
NORTH MANCHESTER - Education for Conflict Resolution began in 1989, organized by local residents interested in making their community a better place to live.And 20 years later, ECR is still going strong.
It was started through the Church and Community Project board, consisting primarily of North Manchester community leaders, which first organized in 1987. With a three-year Lily Endowment, the board was looking for a worthwhile project...

...“ECR has three primary services,” Duffy said. “They are Community Mediation, Training (team building, conflict resolution), and our Resource Materials.”
Full article [here]
read more "Police to Nudge You to Mediation!"

News for 02.17.09

Huffington Post: Give Home Foreclosures the Same Treatment As Wall Street Bankers

Arianna Huffington says that not enough attention is given to the people currently in foreclosure. She also thinks Obama's plan should include mandatory mediation.

"His plan should also include mandatory mediation between homeowners and lenders prior to any final foreclosures. A pilot program along these lines, the Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Diversion Program, started in Philadelphia, has proven very successful. According to one account, the program has prevented or delayed foreclosures in 75 to 80 percent of the cases that have made it to mediation. Currently, many homeowners don't even talk to their lenders until they have been foreclosed on -- partly because the lenders often make it next to impossible to reach them. "
Full article [here]

International Arbitration Makes the Business World Go Faster
DUBAI - Quick and efficient dispute resolution is vital at a time when the global economy is facing challenges, Dr. Omar bin Sulaiman, Governor of the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC) said on Monday.
Addressing a symposium on international arbitration, he said dispute resolution mechanisms had always been critical to the success and competitiveness of an economy. “But, quick and efficient dispute resolution is particularly important now, at a time when the global economy is facing challenges. To increase the adoption of arbitration globally as an alternate dispute resolution mechanism, we need to actively communicate the benefits that arbitration can bring to businessmen, commercial outfits, governments and customers.”

Full article [here]

Shine Launches Kit Aimed At Resolving Neighborhood Disputes
As someone who deals frequently with neighbor vs neighbor disputes, I look around to see what other groups and governments are doing to help people is these situations. Not surprisingly, the Australian State of Queensland is offering a new kit to help people solve their own problems- go figure! Their information sheet comes in nine languages too!
"A new kit aimed at resolving neighbourhood conflict was launched today by Minister for Justice and Attorney-General Kerry Shine. The kit is particularly timely with the Dispute Resolution Branch noticing an increase in demand for its services in the past few months following storms in Queensland's south east and flooding in north Queensland.
"People living in areas affected by recent bad weather are under a lot of stress and this can be made worse if there are disagreements over the clean-up," Mr Shine said. "This new kit and the Government's specialist mediators offer a free service to help neighbours try to settle these disputes."
Full article [here]
This [link] brings you to the page to download the kit.
read more "News for 02.17.09"

News for 02.16.08

Fair Playing field

The Nobles County Deputies Union and the County Officials have agreed to mediation to try and solve the issue of their contract. They have been working out of contract for 18+ months.

the question of a level playing field is raised when I read this, "And during each negotiation meeting, Clarke and his co-steward Nobles County Deputy T.J. Gertsema had to take time off work to attend the negotiations, while the commissioners earned a wage for attending the meetings.
“We’re donating out time, and they get paid to be there,” he commented."

It is also not clear who the mediator is for the case, which is scheduled for February 24th, and if he or she is being paid. If it is a County official, neutrality or lack of could be raised as well.

Read the full article [here]

LA Divorce Mediators Offer Free Services

Kudos to Diana Mercer, Founder of Peace Talks Mediation Services, for getting mentioned on MSNBC's website.

They are offering free divorce mediation as well as fee based on a sliding scale:

"Free mediation services include up to 6 hours of [otherwise] billable time: 3 hours of mediation and 3 hours for a mediation resolution roadmap and report or deal memo."

How about this tidbit:

"With the average Los Angeles divorce costing $100,000(5), Peace Talks' average divorce is $8500."

read the article [here]

Sense & Sensibility in India
VIJAY NAGASWAMI Vijay Nagaswami writes in interesting piece here on the general way Indians react (yes react, not respond) to situations. The question of tolerance, and mob type responses are questioned.

Some quotes to get you to read the opinion piece:

"We respond with irrational intolerance when we use rhetoric, whip up mob frenzy, burn effigies, attack stores selling Valentine Day cards, physically assault hapless young women who go to a pub or talk to young men and so on..."


"If irrationally intolerant protests are to be countered by more irrational intolerance, the only cause to be advanced would be that of tabloid journalism."

Read it [here]

Conflict Resolution for India & Pakistan

"What better recipe can anyone prescribe for lasting peace in the subcontinent, i.e better than conflict-resolution especially the resolution of Kashmir conflict, as also demanded, of late, by President Asif Ali Zardari...

...By all standards of international relations and on the basis of all yardsticks of sovereignty, the Kashmir conflict’s resolution need not be viewed as a victory-defeat situation, whether for Pakistan or for India."

Read all of it [here]

President Carter: Still on a Mission For Peace
Did you know the Carter Center opened back in '81?
For more than three decades, former President Jimmy Carter has been trying to bring peace to the Middle East.
Disappointed that President Ronald Reagan showed no interest in dealing with the region's constant conflict and that President George W. Bush "didn't do anything" either, Carter has kept his dream alive since he left office in 1981 through the efforts of the conflict-resolving Carter Center, frequent visits to Israel and writings on the subject matter.

Full Q & A with him [here]

Community Mediation in New Zealand
There could now be a new way to sort out your differences.
Waitakere Community Law Service has launched a community mediation service, a national first.
The service will run in association with New Zealand’s leading resolution and not-for-profit organisation LEADR NZ.
LEADR NZ chairwoman Carol Powell says the service is likely to be dealing with issues that can’t be resolved by standard legal processes with the value of the disputes being $20,000 or less.

Check out LEADR's site [here]
read more "News for 02.16.08"

Rotary World Peace Fellowships

This is a fantastic opportunity:

The Rotary Club of Comox has applications for Rotary World Peace Fellowships for the 2010–2011 scholastic year.
The fellowships are for study at one of the seven Rotary Centres for International Studies in peace and conflict resolution to obtain a master’s degree in international relations, peace studies, conflict resolution and related areas, or a certificate in Peace and Conflict Studies.

Locations include:

• Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok, Thailand;
• Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, North Carolina, U.S.A. (both universities jointly host one Rotary Centre);
• International Christian University, Tokyo, Japan;
• Universidad del Salvador, Buenos Aires, Argentina;
• University of Bradford, West Yorkshire, England;
• University of California, Berkeley, California, U.S.A.;
• University of Queensland, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia.

Full article [here]

More info at their site [here]
read more "Rotary World Peace Fellowships"

Go ahead, be Stupid!

Go Ahead, Be Stupid!

Yes, the title is a bit gimmicky but what I am trying to say is 'playing dumb' works in mediation and negotiation. It does not matter if you are the mediator, a negotiator or one of the parties involved.

What am I talking about?

Playing dumb means acting as if you do not understand. Sometimes that very well might even be the case too! So how do you play dumb?

Ask questions.

Ask open ended questions.

"I am not sure what you mean?"

"I am not sure if I understand, can you say that again?"

"I am not sure if I am following you."

What does this accomplish? Many things. One is if they are trying to play tricks and sneak in extras just when you think an agreement is reached. By stopping and asking questions, it slows things down and instead of the pressure being on you, it is back on them.

Open ended questions also allows the other party to further explain themselves which then can give them the feeling of knowing they are being heard. It also shows that you are interested in really understanding and hearing what their interests are.

Another positive to 'playing dumb' is it helps keep you cool. What if the other person just said something that was meant to instigate you? Especially if the intention was to get you angry and flustered, instead of doing what they want and expect- for you to react, 'play dumb' by asking a question which deflects their attempt.

By putting it back to them helps you maintain composure and allows them to further explain him/herself. So, instead of saying, "you are a liar!", maybe this would be beneficial, "I thought we were about to finalize an agreement, so I am not sure what that last comment means, could you help me understand?".

Remember, a good negotiator and mediator listens more than they talk.

read more "Go ahead, be Stupid!"

Fired During Mediation!

note: the 'fired during mediation is the third story down

New Mediation Program In the Twin Cities
This article [here] talks about a new court of Appeals mediation program in the Twin Cities. Worth the fews minutes to read.

What I would like to point out is the issue of paid mediators versus voluntarily service. The program received a one year grant for $30,000.

...But the mediators say they cannot remain pro bono for long. “The program will probably continue after the first year pilot if they are willing to find people willing to do cases at a lower rate,” said Niemi. “I’d be willing to do sliding scale and pro bono as long as there are some paying clients.”

What is not clear is how the mediator is paid? Are they employees of the court system? Are they considered the same as outside contractors?

The question I ask everyone is how are the programs you are involved in handled- are the mediators paid or volunteers? If paid, how is the payment decided?

onto other news...

Mediation Talks Hailed a Success By Police
Mediation between young people and residents on the Knollmead estate in Kingston has been hailed a success by police.

Recent conflict in the area was managed in the short-term by a dispersion order but the council realised this was not an efffective solution and called in Peaceworks Mediation, a professional cross-cultural service, to help bridge the gap.

The lead mediator and his team met with both groups and an agreement to engage in a mediation process was made.
Read the full article [here]

Fired During the Mediation!
That's right, well at least the article says so. One party comes to mediation to work things out, the other party comes to fire someone!

...The complaint comes after a failed attempt at mediating Kamps' claims on January 12, 2009. According to the complaint, the firm has subjected Kamps to a long course of adverse action, including firing her during the January 12, 2009 mediation session aimed at settling the matter. "I have been mistreated by Fried, Frank and hope to shine a light on the differences between the firm's official policies and what the partners actually do," said Kamps.

Read it [here]

Students Key In Mediation
SCHENECTADY — Mary Ann McGovern has coordinated more than 200 successful peer mediations at Schenectady High School, closely monitoring students as they work together to resolve conflicts through conversation.

The retired police detective has built upon her experiences in the field to help reduce the number of violent incidents at the school, by coordinating the Center for Community Justice's peer mediation program. The position is funded through an annual contract between the center and the Schenectady City School District.

"Peer mediators are a group of trained, dedicated students who help their fellow classmates resolve their own issues," said McGovern, who has served as mediation coordinator for a year. "We do not give advice or judge. We just guide the mediation process."

Full Story [here]

Bury Mediation Scheme Launched
The Whitefield office of Contour Homes has teamed up with housing colleagues at Irwell Valley Housing Association and Bury Councils Anti Social Behaviour Team to launch a free mediation team for Bury residents.

Ann Walton from Contour Homes said: “This scheme is quite unique because it is bringing together housing experts from different organisations. All parties are ‘loaning’ their experts free of charge in order to provide an impartial service to people living in Bury.”

Previously all organisations would have used the services of an external consultant, however this has proved expensive and Ann Walton believes this year long pilot service will not only save money but will also help share good practice amongst themselves.

“Essentially the service is for neighbours who have fallen out and are at the stage where they can no longer talk to each other,” she said. “Our trained mediators will work with all parties to find a solution that is agreeable to everyone.”

The mediators from each organisation will not be asked to mediate on any cases referred by their own organisation to ensure strict impartiality.
Full story [here]

Mediator Honored By Victoria Police Department
From Police.Vic.Gov.Au
Inspector Allan Folvig, Staff Officer to Assistant Commissioner Paul Evans.
Allan Folvig’s commitment to Victoria Police and the community it serves is genuine. Throughout his 29 plus year career, he has displayed dedication in completing all tasks requested or required of him in an efficient manner. His is known for his commitment to instigating changes to departmental practices that increase the effectiveness of personnel and overall improve community safety.

He is widely known for his professional attitude, investigative skills, leadership skills, knowledge, experience and integrity which has been recognised by his appointment to a specialist Task Force and the National Crime Authority (Australian Crime Commission).

Since 2004, he has been highly sought after to assist in the resolution of workplace conflict issues where his understanding nature has resulted in the successful mediation of these matters. The numerous favourable comments received from all parties involved attests to this. He is also highly regarded for his mentoring of other mediators.

Throughout his career, Allan Folvig has served Victoria Police and the community in a professional and ethical manner at all times. His quiet nature makes him a respected achiever and is recognised for his dedication to serving and protecting the Victorian community.
read more "Fired During Mediation!"

San Fran Ripe For Mediation

Patrick Goggin wrote a really good piece about how the budget situation in San Fransisco could benefit from mediation. "Marc", a reader who posted a comment, then wrote an interesting assessment of how mediation would be a a disservice to the people of San Fran because, "Uh, we elect people to bring our politics to the table and sort things out. When the author is suggesting is that an unelected third party be substituted for the will of the electorate as expressed through our representatives."

Many things to comment on here. First I will start with the reader "Marc" and his comments. If you click the link below, you see his post was not just some quick, knee-jerk response. In contrast, he wrote a seven paragraph response. Unfortunately, I do not believe he fully understands what mediation is. As we all know, a mediator does not make any decisions, but rather helps the parties work together to identify issues, explore solutions and then work on an possible agreement that is acceptable to all. A mediator is not a substitute but rather another character to the equation.

Take a look at then at the second paragraph and Marc also believes power has to be substituted or handed over to the mediator. I actually talk about power in my opening statement during civil court mediation. I purposely mentioned power and how it lies entirely in the hands of each of the parties- not the mediator.

Admittedly I do not know the inner political story behind all the budget talks but I don't think it is all that necessary to see that a mediator can help in this, and similar situations.

Patrick Googin adds this towards the end of his article, "While the City’s current budget crisis may not be of Middle East conflict proportions, it certainly is a crisis worthy of special mediation. To get to mediation, however, the parties must enter into the mediation voluntarily – they must want to participate and be willing to strike a compromise to end the stalemate the parties find themselves in. Board President David Chiu, a seasoned attorney and one who recognizes the importance of stakeholder buy-in, should propose employing a special mediator to help solutions rise from the current budgetary deficit abyss."

I am not sure of Mr. Goggin's experience in mediation, but he makes a valid point here so kudos to him.

Read the article [here].
read more "San Fran Ripe For Mediation"

Spring Conference Time!

The ABA Section on Dispute Resolution's 11th Annual Spring Conference (wow that's a mouthful) is this April, did you know?

Well, you do now and I highly recommend it. It happens to be in New York City, from April 15th - 18th at the Sheraton Hotel and Towers.

There are many superb speakers that will be present. Honestly, the tough part will be to try and fit everything in. Don't believe me, or slightly curious about the authenticity of that comment? Well then check the brochure right [here] and see for yourself.

A disclaimer by the way, I am not a member of the ABA or own stock in it, so I have no gain in mentioning it other than I get $1 for each person that visits the site and signs up from my link... kidding :)

My all-star list at the moment includes:

* Communicating Across Cultures
* Mediating Globally: The impact of Culture on Mediation
* Neuroscience, Negotiation and Persuasion
* ADR in the Growing Complexity of International Art Law
* Government Transition and the Role of ADR
*Designing Justice: Dispute System Design and Justice in Education, Courts, Communities & Employment
* Designing Effective Public Input Processes
* Mediators Beyond Borders
* Marketing Plan Workshop
* High Risk Negotiations
* The 7 Keys to Mediation as a Global Profession

Oh, and that's my basic, at-the-moment, itinerary so if you want to stalk me at the Conference, there you go.

I am sure I will blog on this more leading up to the event but thought I would give a heads up to those who have not heard about it yet.

Finally, the link to the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution is [here] and registration is [here]
read more "Spring Conference Time!"

News & Tips

Mediators Prepare New Darfur Peace Push
Mediators attempting to broker an end to the six-year war in Darfur met in the Qatari capital on Monday ahead of the first peace talks between the Sudanese government and the rebel Justice and Equality Movement since 2007.

"The meeting aimed at discussing and rendering the Darfur peace talks successful," the mediators said in a joint statement after their talks.

The mediators included Arab League chief Amr Mussa, OIC secretary general Ekmeleddin Ihasanoglu, African Union commission chairman Jean Ping, Qatar's state minister for foreign affairs Ahmed bin Abdullah al-Mahmud and United Nations and African Union chief negotiator on Darfur Djibril Bassole.
Full article [here]

Law Firm Expands Dispute Resolution Team
LAW firm Atteys has expanded its Dispute Resolution department into Sheffield and Rotherham.

In a bid to help more local businesses defy the credit crunch, the service brings together specialist legal advice, aimed at helping businesses and individuals resolve a wide range of problems, without the need of facing long and potentially costly courtroom battles.Atteys launched its Dispute Resolution Department in 2007 and since that time, the firm has helped many small businesses in the region to recover bad debts, overcome employment matters such as handling redundancies and unfair dismissal claims, as well as providing legal makeovers – ensuring businesses are compliant with the latest legislation.
Full article [here]

Dispute Resolution in the Recession
Recessions produce a boom in disputes — and in the past have produced a correspondingly increased volume of litigation. However, the results may differ this time around. Unexpected and especially sudden changes in the economy and, even more so, volatility (the hallmark of the global economy in 2008) generate disputes. Business expectations are shattered. Prices fluctuate. Financing is withdrawn or fails to materialize. The economic foundations of contracts collapse. And business partners, suppliers and customers fail to perform, or even go out of business.
Full article [here]

Court of Appeals Testing New Mediation
A new Court of Appeals mediation program for family law cases is saving thousands of dollars for the litigants and for the court. About half of the first twenty cases to go through the program were successfully settled, according to John Kostouros, director of the state court information office.
Full, short article [here]

Obama appoints Native woman to mediator's post
After an eight-year void in the White House, President Barack Obama has appointed an American Indian to a high-profile intergovernmental job to be the “eyes and ears” of Indian Country.The Obama administration named three people to posts in its intergovernmental affairs office on Friday, including Jodi Archambault Gillette, a member of the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe.

The Lakota woman will serve as a deputy associate director in an office that functions as a mediator between the administration and state, tribal and local governments.“This is the first time we've had an American Indian that close to the White House, dealing with intergovernmental affairs,” said David Gipp, president of the United Tribes Technical College in Bismarck, N.D., where Gillette previously served as director of the Native American Training Institute, a tribally operated nonprofit organization.

She will be very helpful in coordinating tribal government, tribal leaders and Indian affairs across the board and all the federal agencies where there will be issues affecting tribes and Indian people,” said Gipp. “She'll be able to reach across from one agency to the next. We look forward to her coordinating meetings at the highest levels of government with some of the secretaries and also the president.”
Full story [here]

Construction ADR Tips (Middle East Specifically)
Some very good, basic tips, one of which is:

Provide for arbitration
Contracts need to include an effective dispute resolution mechanism, which may act as a deterrent to disputes. Arbitration is gaining increasing acceptance in the region and arbitration clauses are now common in many construction contracts. But don't forget that the enforcement of arbitral awards remains a challenge in certain jurisdictions, particularly in Saudi Arabia.

Read them all [here]
read more "News & Tips"

Weekend Mediation & ADR News 2.7.09

Weekend Mediation & ADR News

Some really good news, take a few minutes to have a read!

Mediation Between Police Union and Stockton Ends
Something as delicate as mediation between two parties such as a police union and city officials perhaps should have been given more that one very, very long day.

Mediation between the city and the police officers union was attempted in a single meeting lasting from 9 a.m. to past 10 p.m. on Jan. 29 at downtown's Stewart/Eberhardt Essential Services Building, City Attorney Ren Nosky said.

This is the case in the Californian city of Stockton. Some interesting quotes from the article:

Fritchen said, "In the mediation process, there's some desire of a mediator that people will move toward the middle. The city doesn't have any funds to be able to make any movement, and that doesn't work well for mediation."

The article mentions that the next step is arbitration that I believe is binding. It seems like the city is digging their heels here. I wonder what if they worked out their BATNA and WATNA?

The Union President seems to think things will go his way, after alleging the city would not budge during mediation:

"The city's going to end up having to pay more, and it's binding," said Officer Steve Leonesio, the union's president, of the prospects for arbitration.

Full Story [here]

Mediators Enter Mauling Case Talks
SAN FRANCISCO – A mediator has been brought into settlement talks between The City and the brothers seeking damages after being mauled by a tiger at the San Francisco Zoo on Christmas Day 2007, according to court documents.
Settlement talks are also ongoing in a separate lawsuit filed by the family of 17-year-old Carlos Sousa Jr., a friend of the brothers who was killed by the tiger.
Both lawsuits claim The City and the San Francisco Zoological Society, which the city contracts to operate the zoo, are responsible for damages stemming from the attack by the tiger, which escaped its enclosure. A wall surrounding the big cat pen was found to be short of recommended standards.

Full Story [here]

Marianne Not 'Short' on Mediation Skills
pun intended
A Criminal Justice Center dispute between Houston County and the City of Caledonia may finally be over. The Houston County Board of Commissioners voted unanimously to accept a mediated settlement with City of Caledonia at its Tuesday meeting.
State mediator Marianne Short had presided over a day-long meeting between county and city officials the previous day, Jan. 26.The terms of the agreement, which were made available at the commissioners’ meeting, call for a smaller CJC to be located directly east of the courthouse, behind Memorial Plaza and west of Pine Street (south of the existing jail). The agreement limits the size of the structure to 65,000 square feet. This is almost 20,000 square feet less than the county’s last proposal, which would have been located just south of the courthouse.
Full Story [here]

International Dispute Resolution Distance Learning LL.M. Starts at Dundee
Flexible course can be completed in 15 months; involves two residence periods
Feb 7, 2009

In January, the Dundee Law School at the University of Dundee started a new distance learning LL.M. program in International Dispute Resolution. The course will involve two five-day, on-campus residential periods for practical negotiation and mediation skills. Diploma or certificate options in this field are also available.The LL.M. course can take anywhere from 15 months to 5 years to complete, depending on the student's desired pace.
Full Story [here]

Role of UN Mediators Needs to be Reviewed
An Editorial by Kathleen Wilmes
The recent decision made by the United Nations to remain in Sudan, even after the body was asked to leave by the Sudanese government, and the situation taking place in Darfur brings up so many questions, and so many takes on the topic at hand. But instead of concentrating on the government of Sudan, or whether or not the rebel forces have legitimate claims, I feel that the power and authority of the United Nations and the African Union, involved as mediators and peacekeeping forces, must be reviewed. More importantly, is it appropriate for the AU and the UN to remain once a member state asks them to leave? In this case, yes.
Full editorial [here]

Los Angeles PD and Mediation
After months of insisting there is no evidence of racial profiling in the department, LAPD officials suggest the term "biased" policing should be used when handling a wide range of public complaints, including race, age and gender.
In a report to the Police Commission scheduled to be considered on Tuesday, it is also recommended the LAPD make use of the dispute resolution program in the City Attorney's Office to resolve public complaints before they get to the lawsuit stage.

Full story [here]

Mediation With 32 Groups!
RAY BROOK — Talks have stalled, but the biggest housing proposal ever made in the Adirondack Park is still on the table, a spokesman for the Adirondack Park Agency said Thursday.
Closed-door efforts to resolve objections to the 700-unit project planned for 4,600 acres around the Big Tupper Ski Area have been on hold since last fall.

...The APA began holding hearings in front of an administrative law judge in the spring of 2007, but they were delayed twice at the request of Preserve Associates, which then asked to move into private mediation with 32 groups that had a say in the proceedings.
Full Story [here]

read more "Weekend Mediation & ADR News 2.7.09"

International Mediator Update

International Mediator Update

The latest update:

Tony Blair (United Kingdom)- Leads the 'Quartet' as head mediator/negotiator in the Hamas-Israel conflict. Role might be diminished as newly elected US President Obama seemingly wants to go in a more USA-led direction with Secretary of State Clinton and Middle East Envoy George Mitchell. Thing are not so bad though, seems has been been given the title of 'first friend' by President Obama (read it here).

Also, recently stopped by my office... really, read it [here]

Nicolas Sarkozy (France)- Attempted to mediate same as above to no avail. He did meet today with Palestinian President Abbas and the Prime Minister of Qatar. The latest rumored mediator role is possibly in the Croatia-Slovakia border dispute.

Thabo Mbeki (South Africa)- as previously mentioned here, the leaders in Africa have lost faith in his ability to be the mediator in the situation in Zimbabwe.

Moammar Gadhafi (Libya)- Newly elected president of the African Union, vows to continue effort as a mediator is the Darfur region. Has had little success so far.

Tayyip Erdogan (Turkey)- Severely jeopardized his neutrality and role of international mediator with his public condemnation of Israel last month.

Jimmy Carter (USA)- The former President also jeopardized his neutrality when recently asked by a reporter who was responsible for the conflict in Gaza, his reply was, "Israel." He also added, ""You got to talk to both sides," Carter said. "But you can't ... take the position that everything that Israel does is right, and that anybody who disagrees with them is an act of terrorism. You got to try to find solutions that relate to both sides."

International Mediator (general)- From the BBC, Leaders of the Anglican Communion are to employ professional mediators in an attempt to resolve their ongoing dispute over sexuality.
Full Story [here]

This story has received considerable media coverage on all the major networks here in the States. SAO PAULO (AP) — An American man who has waged a four-year custody battle for his son in Brazil brought a U.S. congressman along Thursday to help make his case to the country's courts and politicians.

Speaking with The Associated Press on their way to Brasilia, David Goldman said he has not been allowed to see his 8-year-old son Sean since his former wife Bruna took the boy for a two-week vacation to her native Brazil in 2004 and never returned.

...Both sides are scheduled to meet Friday with a high-ranking Brazilian federal judge who is expected to attempt mediation or decide whether the case should be heard in federal or state courts in Rio de Janeiro, said a court spokeswoman who spoke on condition of anonymity because of department policy.
Full story [here]
read more "International Mediator Update"

Sharpen those Tools!

Sharpen Those Tools
We all, or most of us, know that the three tips to being successful in negotiation is prepare, prepare, prepare. Right?

The same applies to mediators. Sure, we don't make the agreement, give opinions, or make decisions, but our preparation is extremely important in adding to the potential of the mediation being a success.

For mediators, that handle cases in community centers and court, that is not always practical. Usually you have at most, a New York minute to look over the file case as you walk over to greet the parties.

Take that a step further, for law enforcement officers who take on the role of negotiator and/or mediator, not only is the 'case' thrown on you, the issue of time ticking preciously and quickly plays a pivotal role in affecting the situation.

So, basically I said so far 1) you need to prepare 2) it is tough for community center and court based mediators and 3) even tougher for law enforcement personnel.

Whats to be done?

The analogy I use often is with sports. I am an avid fan of many sports, particularly football (soccer here in the States) and cricket. Manchester United Football club is arguably the best in the world. In cricket, Australia are arguably the best in the world (don't mention the last Test and One Day series!).

How do these teams stay so good? What happens after a successful season? Do they not prepare for the next one because they did so good? No, of course not... (and finally here comes my point, six paragraphs in) it is practice. Practice, as the cliche says, is what makes perfect. In my mind there is never a 'perfect' performance, but by practicing, you help sharpen those tools in your box as well as accumulate new ones.

Think about- a penalty kick, shouting and stubborn people, one run shy of a double century, and a near riot situation all have something in common. In order to get through it successfully, you resort to your practices. It's what you learned over and over in practice that now becomes 'clockwork' for you. Seriously, there is no difference in those above examples.
no , I am not saying that trying to literally do shuttle diplomacy between police chiefs and protest leaders as things are about to burst at the seems is the same as a community center mediation involving neighbors over a noise. What I am saying is that core practices and skills can be used in any setting, regardless of what it is. It is our practice that prepares us for those different situations.
It does not matter if you are the seasoned veteran or rookie, or in the pro league in recreational competition. The core concept of training and practice is paramount to continue your success in mediation (or football).

What do I do to continue my practice? One contribution to my toolbox is reading many books.
There are many out there and are worth the few dollars in cost. Ever better, search the Internet and see many for free. [shameless plug] If you don't have the time, visit this blog for information and links to tips too! There is a wealth of information for free on the Internet.
How esle can you continue your practice? Go to trainings. Depending on where you live, you might have to travel a bit. Look around, there are some good teachers out there. Some trainings are not even that expensive. You will also find that scholarships and discounts for those with hardships are available.
I also find very valuable to debrief with others. Be it a co-worker or even the student observing my mediation, feedback is crucial for me to learn. The same situations viewed and experienced through different eyes always results in different opinions.
Don't forget feedback forms too. Hey, we all think a mediation went good, but it can't hurt to ask a person to fill one out. Although they are short, and not in depth, lessons can still be learned.
Finally, there are many groups and listserves out there. This helps you speak with peers, and works great especially if you are in more remote areas.
The tools in a mediator's toolbox are only as good as the care the mediator puts into making sure they are sharp and used correctly. Practice can help.
read more "Sharpen those Tools!"

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