“The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his or her life by altering his or her attitudes of mind, that literally feeling differently will allow us to think differently about any given situation.”
- William James
We begin with an essential question: What might the legal profession do (or not do) to increase party satisfaction with the mediation process -- whether or not parties reach settlement?
As practicing mediators and teachers of alternate dispute resolution, we’re often asked about the “secret sauce” needed for mediation success. Experience has taught us time and again that the prospect of reaching a mutually acceptable outcome through mediated settlement discussions primarily depends on two key variables: (i) pre-mediation preparation… substantively, emotionally and “attitudinally”; and (ii) the willingness of the parties to work together cooperatively, rather than adversarially.
None other than acclaimed essayist and philosopher Henry David Thoreaux said that, throughout life, people should seek to “Simplify. Simplify.” When it comes to mediation, a similar admonition applies: We say people…parties, counsel, and mediators alike, would do well to “Prepare. Prepare.”
To be sure, preparation and cooperation do not come easy for most. People seem to be hard wired for competition when they’re embroiled in conflict. We get our dander up. The “fight or flight” response takes hold. We worry about getting what we perceive to be ours and in not getting “dissed” by those we perceive to be our opponents.