Is Mediation Worth it even if it Fails?

As a mediator, my goal is to get disputing parties to reach a settlement, but not all cases work out that way.

Recently I had a mediation session between two parties that is stuck in impasse. No matter how much I encourage them to move forward, their difference is too great to be settled and each party walked away from the proverbial table (Zoom meeting).

Although I am disappointed that my efforts did not lead to a settlement, I am still happy that the mediation took place, because even a failed mediation are beneficial the parties in dispute.

An Exchange of Information

In a dispute, whether it is a divorce or an commercial claim, each party arrives at the mediator’s table armed with a set of information gathered from what is available to them. However, as the information available to each party is often incomplete, the opinions and insights created from the information can be significantly different from the other party.

Therefore, one of the first goals of mediation is the exchange of information. By laying out the information each party have in a confidential and neutral setting, each side can obtain insights about the other party. For example, an insurance company can see why its customer came up with the numbers that support their higher claim.

A Shift in Perspective

Information is a powerful tool for mediators to bring each party closer together, because each party gain more insight that can enable us to shift our perspective. By expanding the information available to both sides, mediators can help shift perspective of each party and provide guidance to reach common ground. For example, an insurance company might be willing to increase its settlement offer by understanding the true cost of repair, while the insured can understand the limits of their policies and discover the maximum amount the insurance company would cover.

Silver Lining in an Impasse

Sometimes, even when a mediator try their hardest, the gulf between the parties are too wide to be resolved in one mediation session, and an impasse was reached. However, not all is lost in an unsuccessful mediation. By exchanging information, each side can now take what they have learned and consider their next step, which can lead to a more productive discussion either through direct communication or through another mediation session.

In conclusion, mediation through a neutral party in a dispute is a useful tool to resolve a dispute, even if a settlement cannot be reached.

For a free consultation or quote, please contact us at (786) 704-8262 or bobby.mediates@bhcrs.com

Your Business Reputation and Social Media

Most of us rely on social media to make connections and attract new business. This is particularly true in the age of social distancing, mask wearing and widespread caution due to the pandemic. It is certainly much safer than in-person networking.

However, for those who are unwary, the internet can also destroy professional and business reputation. As we have seen in the news time and again, business owners, professionals, and even celebrities can have their careers ground to a screeching halt because of offensive tweets, intemperate social media activity, and other actions that can be called out for being offensive or insensitive. In the age of #cancel, this can become a serious concern for professionals and business owners who rely on their personal reputations to connect with customers and clients.

At BHCRS, we have developed training and consulting services aimed at minimizing the risk of social media backlash and reputation damage. Our services would help you eliminate trouble spots in your team’s social media history and recommend guidelines to proactively prevent public relations crises. Services can be delivered in-person or through conferencing software nation-wide. Please Contact Us for more information and schedule a free consultation.

Covid-19 Update

Dear Friends and Clients of BH Conflict Resolution Services,

Like many other businesses, we are currently coping with the rapid changes brought on by the COVID pandemic. In order to ensure the safety of our team and clients, BHCRS is adhering to the highest safety standards.

In accordance with municipal and state guidelines, all in-person consultation and mediation sessions will require the use of masks or other suitable protective facial coverings. Social distancing will be enforced. Physical contact will be kept at the minimum, and documents will be sent electronically whenever possible.

Now more than ever, we will be utilizing the latest technology to ensure the safety and health of our clients. All mediation and consultation sessions will be conducted via Zoom unless otherwise requested.

Thank you for your continuing support

Bobby Huen, PhD.

(Owner)

Conflict Resolution: An Overview

“So…What do you do?”

“Oh, so you just got your doctorate, congratulations! Which subject is it in?”

“Conflict Analysis and Resolution”

*blank expression* “Oh, interesting… So are you a mediator? What do you do exactly?”

“…”

I am a recent doctoral graduate in conflict analysis and resolution, and the conversation above happens to me on a semi-regular basis, from family gatherings to networking events and job interviews. It dawned on me that the subject of conflict resolution is an unfamiliar concept to many. Therefore, in this article, I am going to explain the concept of conflict resolution, why it is an essential expertise in the 21st century, and what one can expect with a conflict resolution specialist such as myself.

Why is Conflict Resolution essential in the 21st Century?

Conflict is an inevitable part of our world. From global confrontations to flamewars over social media, conflict is an integral part of an ever-shrinking world where we are increasingly connected by technology.

However, before anyone assume that all conflicts are disasters, let me clarify that conflicts are not always destructive. In fact, conflict is one of the forces that drive society forward, and a world without conflict would be one without innovation, without progress, and without evolution. Yet, when  conflicts spin out of control, they often descend into the dark void of violence and destruction.

As scholars of conflict resolution, my goal is not to eliminate conflicts altogether, but to understand their fundamental causes, and resolve conflicts with as little negative consequences as possible.

How does Conflict Resolution work in Practice?

Conflict resolution specialists such as myself can be called upon to deal with conflict in a couple of different ways such as Alternative Dispute Resolution or Conflict Management Consultation. In both ways, we seek to resolve the conflict through interpersonal interaction instead of legal solutions. They can be determined by a variety of factors including existing arrangement, court ordered diversion, and mutual agreement.

Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR):

One of the most common forms of conflict resolution is the use of alternative dispute resolution tools such as mediation, facilitation and arbitration. These tools are generally used to settle the immediate dispute on hand without resorting to the courtroom. Examples include the practice of mediation during divorce proceedings, restorative justice sessions where victims and the perpetrator speak face-to-face with the help of a neutral counsellor, or arbitration between a business and a customer who seek restitution or refund. In all these cases, alternative dispute resolution’s ultimate aim is the creation of a legally binding settlement that would conclusively resolve the immediate issue at hand. While this is an efficient way to resolve ad hoc disputes without resorting to long and expensive legal processes, the practice of ADR does not always resolve any underlying issues that causes the conflict in the first place.

Conflict Analysis and Management Consultation:

Conflict resolution specialists such as myself can also approach conflicts in a more holistic manner by immersing ourselves into the place where conflict occurs. Instead of resolving conflicts as it arises, we examine the environment where conflicts develop and recommend changes that would minimize conflict occurrence and prevent  new conflicts from spiraling out of control and poisoning the environment. For example, if the client is a small organization, I would want to observe the day to day work of the organization, noting how team members communicate with each other, and note where conflict arises. Next, I will interview each member of the organization in a secure and confidential environment where they can express their opinions without fear of retaliation. After gathering enough information, I will examine the collected data as a whole to determine the causes of conflict and recommend solutions based on facts.

Conflict prevention solutions can be wide ranging, from improving lines of communication within the organization, to individualized training for team members on how to work with others. I might also recommend structural changes to organizations (such as deployment of technology) that would simplify interpersonal interaction and help prevent misunderstanding and future conflict. While there is absolutely no guarantee that these methods would eliminate conflict, the goal is to minimize their occurrence and severity.

“So… really, what do you do?”

So, what is conflict resolution? It is a comprehensive study of conflicts and how to resolve them. Those who are trained in conflict resolution understand that while conflicts maybe an inevitable part of our lives, it is important to prevent conflicts from spiraling out of control, spreading negativity and hurting those around us. Therefore, scholars of conflict resolution engage in the comprehensive study of both theory and practice of conflict analysis and resolution. We study the various causes of conflict based on sociological, political and humanist theories, and we learn the mechanics of conflicts, from international disputes to interpersonal arguments. To resolve these conflicts, we are trained to practice different practical methods of conflict resolution, which includes different forms of mediation, facilitation and negotiation. Finally, we are tasked to develop methods of conflict prevention, understanding the circumstances where conflicts might occur and how to prevent conflicts from escalating.

Conflict resolution doctorates comes from a wide variety of academic backgrounds, from anthropology students to lawyers who wish to study the practice of alternative dispute resolution and conflict resolution. We are versatile with our skills and able to apply them to a wide variety of situations. In our increasingly connected world, where conflicts online can spill over to real life, it is up to those who practice this discipline to bring solutions to students, organizations and corporations who wish for a less conflict-ridden future.

Mediation 101

Mediation is an increasingly common practice to resolve disputes both inside and outside the legal arena. In Florida, many judges are now sending civil cases to mediation in order to relieve the enormous case backlog. In addition, businesses and individuals are increasingly using mediation and other dispute resolution services to solve their problems. So what is mediation and why is it the right choice?

What is Mediation?

 Mediation is the discussion between two conflicting parties through the use of a neutral, impartial person (the mediator). In practice, the mediator meets with both parties in a room, and lay down a set of rules and procedures about the session. In typical court-ordered civil mediation, that means each party would have time to speak with the mediator privately, discuss their issues and demands, and let the mediator act as an intermediary in order to create a mutually satisfying outcome. Based on the details of the case, the mediator might ask each party to clarify their information and ascertain possible resolution of the dispute. Should the two parties agree to a resolution, the mediator helps both parties to draw up an agreement. If mediation is court ordered, then the mediator will report the resolution to the court.

Why Mediation?

Mediation is a tremendously useful tool for individuals, businesses, and other organizations due to several reasons:

Mediation Saves Time and Money

Lawsuits are time consuming and expensive. An average, straightforward lawsuit can take years to resolve, between court appearances, discovery of documents and evidence, expert testimonies, motions and appeals. Not only are each party spending large sums of money for attorney fees and other services, there are simply too many cases in the judicial system to resolve disputes quickly. Mediation brings both parties together to create a satisfactory outcome, saving unnecessary expenses and time.

Mediation are Informative

Sometimes, a dispute can escalate because neither side are aware of the other’s goals and priorities. By asking the right questions, a mediator can discover what would be a satisfactory outcome for each party, and help steer them towards resolving the dispute.

Mediation Improves Relationships

More often than not, legal actions can be quite destructive. They can destroy families, friendships, and business relationships. Mediation can help both parties come to a resolution without escalating their conflict to the next level, which help preserve and improve existing relationships instead of destroying it.

I hope you find this information useful, and contact me for when you need your dispute resolved.

Bobby Huen, PhD