Ok, I admit, listening does not come easily to me. As with so many of us with Type A leaning personalities, getting to the finish line and moving on to the next task tends to win over taking time to hear from all stakeholders in a debate. However, as a lifelong passionate student of all things related to self-improvement, I think I’m actually finally getting the hang of it!
In dispute resolution it is important to recognize that emotions will run the gamut…from anger, fear, grief, humiliation, frustration, and even fatigue to elation, gratification, and appreciation. Mediators often find themselves in a paradoxical position – on one side encouraging and empathizing with productive and often intense emotions, and at the same time compelled to fulfill our obligation to remain unbiased and impartial during mediation sessions.
Let’s face it, we all know better than to go into a negotiation/settlement discussion ready to pick a fight so, why do so many parties still show up unprepared with teeth bared and weapons drawn? I suppose it goes back to our primitive instinct of “fight-or-flight.” Executives or high level professionals didn’t reach their positions by being push-overs, so it is likely that if the parties participating in the discussions have not had the opportunity to prepare properly for the conference, we will unconsciously (or consciously!) come ready to do battle. Of course, on the other hand, there are individuals who, when faced with a threat, simply freeze and cannot respond productively.
There are more possible scenarios for business disputes to arise than imaginable. For every one, however, one of the first decisions prior to entering litigation must be mediation or arbitration. The emotional and financial cost of entering a courtroom along with the often risky choice of leaving the outcome up to a judge and/or jury, and not in the hands of disputants to control the settlement, cannot be overstated.