Sunday, September 5, 2010

Homeowners and HOA Mediation

    Mary G. Marcus, Ph.D.

    Do you have a dispute with your neighbor or your Homeowners Association (HOA), but don’t want to spend thousands of dollars or take months to resolve the dispute? Are you on the Board of Directors of an HOA and are tired of litigating disputes with homeowners and the associated big costs and ongoing bad feelings? Mediation is the better option.
    TucsonMediates offers talented and highly experienced mediators who can quickly, confidentially, and cost-effectively help neighbors and HOAs resolve disputes. Whether the conflict is over noise, pets, landscaping, alleged non-compliance with CC&Rs, mediators can help identify the issues, brainstorm solutions to the conflict, and allow the disputants to leave the mediation feeling they have been heard.
    TucsonMediates is now offering workshops to Neighborhood Associations, Homeowners Associations, and Management Companies about how mediation can help end conflicts. Our next workshop will be September 8 for the La Paloma Ridge 4 Homeowners Association. If you are interested in having a TucsonMediates workshop for your group, just e-mail us at
     Mary G. Marcus, Ph.D (7) 9/5/10. See more about Mary G. Marcus, Ph.D. at

Monday, May 10, 2010

Check Your Assumptions at the Door, Please

We all make assumptions, and use them regularly. It’s one of the ways we speed up our internal decision making process, and how we humans cope. They can be helpful.

But when conflict enters the room, sits down with a scowl on its face, and crosses it’s arms, you might want to think twice about some of your assumptions. Many of us know the old joke, to “ass-u-me” makes an ass of you and me. We may try to guard against it, but it’s often difficult.

In situations of conflict, commonly the lines of communication are already tattered and strained. In this setting, assumptions can be toxic.

Good mediators know this. They use their honed listening skills to recognize and understand assumptions that may be particularly damaging to the parties involved. They may ask probing questions designed to illuminate false impressions that they perceive, or they may want to talk about some background issues the parties would have never realized were relevant. These are among the many ways they may assist you in resolving your conflict.

Please let Tucson Mediates know how we can be of assistance to you.

M. J. McLeroy (6) 5/10/10. See more about M. J. McLeroy and TucsonMediates at

Monday, May 3, 2010

Don't Back the Other Side into a Corner

Ron Karp

Don't back the other side into a corner!

Why? Because when you get backed into a corner you have no choice but to fight back. And if you're fighting back, you have little incentive to settle your conflict because you view it as only a win - lose option.

What does that have to do with mediation?

A great deal. A skilled mediator, who takes no sides, but listens to all sides, can meet (or caucus), with each side separately. The mediator can assist you to see any weaknesses in your position in a non-threatening manner and where none of this discussion is being revealed to the other side. The mediator can assist you to look at your positions in a realistic manner - free from emotion and help you evaluate a range of possible ways to resolve your conflict.

When this process is entered into with all of the parties, there is often an area where each party has a position that is consistent with the other parties. All of a sudden there is a resolution to a problem that seemed insolvable and possibly headed for a long drawn out and expensive litigation.

Even if there is not a consistent solution that the parties have come up with in their separate caucus, there may well be a narrowing of the differences. The skilled mediator, with the permission of the parties, can then explore with each party, that if it agrees to give in a little it can gain much more. If this succeeds, the conflict can be solved.

But how was this achieved? It was accomplished by not being backed into a corner. And reaching an agreement without having to be put into an embarrassing situation of conceding anything that might give the appearance to the other party of seeming weak.

It becomes a win-win for everyone!

Please let TucsonMediates professionals know how we can help.

Ron Karp (5) 5/3/10. See more about Ron Karp and TucsonMediates at

Monday, April 26, 2010

Mediation - A Healing Process

Jose A. Ramirez

When we find ourselves in the middle of a conflict we tend to use the same tools we have used most of our lives. Many people avoid conflict and pretend conflict does not exist and others tend to accommodate people in their lives allowing the other parties to do whatever they want, even when others’ actions adversely affect them. There are other conflict styles but for the purpose of this piece I’m only focusing on these two. I believe that eventually the resentment will become so burdensome, in both of these cases, that the conflict will escalate. Human reaction is so very unpredictable that escalation can take many forms including stopping all communication. Because the main ingredient in conflict resolution is communication, when it does not exist, the conflict may never be resolved and even if the conflict is never talked about, it will lie under the surface.

People often rely on time to “heal the relationship” but in the best case scenario the relationship may be rekindled but the conflict will not be solved. What happens to individuals, families, partners and businesses as they wait for time to heal the relationships?

Mediators can assist in resolving your conflict and preserve or recast your relationships when it becomes more than you want to or can handle. Mediators help people during any point of their conflict; preventing the escalation of conflict or guiding people to settle some of their toughest conflicts.

Please let TucsonMediates professionals know how we can help.

Jose A. Ramirez (4) 4/26/10. See more about Jose A.Ramirez and TucsonMediates at

Tuesday, April 6, 2010

Choosing a Mediator

Mary G. Marcus, Ph.D.

    If you’re President of the United States and you’re looking for a mediator for a diplomatic crisis in some foreign hot spot, you have George Mitchell, Dennis Ross, and Richard Holbrooke on your speed dial. They’re all high profile diplomats who have mediated many international disputes.

    But, if you’re the president of a homeowner’s association or the vice-president of human resources for a company or a couple seeking a divorce, or a family struggling with conflict about where would be the best place for grandma to live, how do you find a good mediator?
    Clients are often embarrassed to say they found their mediator in the yellow pages or on-line, but that’s the way most people find a mediator. A few clients call a mediator because they’ve been referred by a friend, an attorney, or a mental health professional. If you haven’t been referred by someone you trust, how do you select a mediator?
    Some states, like Florida, certify mediators but many states, like Arizona, do not. If a mediator has been certified, that means the mediator has met some criteria for training and experience and ethical practice. If a state doesn’t certify mediators, check if the mediator is a practitioner member of an organization that requires training, experience, and adherence to standards of practice for its members. A nation-wide organization for mediators, the Association for Conflict Resolution is a good resource for finding qualified mediators. A state-wide organization of mediators is also a good bet for locating a skilled mediator who adheres to accepted standards of practice.
    Now that you have some names of mediators, it’s time to ask them some questions before you hire them. First, what training in mediation do they have? It’s essential that a mediator have some training in mediation, which at a minimum should be 40 hours of basic training and several hours of annual continuing education in mediation. Next, what kind of experience do they have in mediation? As in every line of work, experience makes one a more skillful mediator. Does the mediator spell out his/her responsibilities in the mediation and yours in a written “Agreement to Mediate” and does he/she use a written fee agreement to spell out your costs? Finally, is the mediator committed to protecting clients’ interests by carrying liability insurance?
    Asking these few simple questions will help you find a qualified mediator who can help you resolve your conflict.
    Mary G. Marcus, Ph.D (3) 4/6/10. See more about Mary G. Marcus, Ph.D. at

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Think Alike Syndrome

Catherine Tornbom

One of the challenges in communicating effectively in a conflict is the “Think  Alike Syndrome.” If you and I are in a conflict about an issue that is really important to the both of us. I will assume that you think just like me.

Wait a minute. This does not make any sense. If I were to ask you this question, “Do you think everyone thinks like you?” You would give me one of those looks and say, “what a stupid question, of course we don’t all think alike!” We have amassed overwhelming evidence through our life experience that demonstrates beyond any doubt we do not all think and feel the same about any given issue or topic.

But when faced with a conflict, emotions of anger or fear are invoked and this causes us to narrow our focus. We take the facts of the situation and create all the reasons why our position is correct. And because we have spent so much time thinking this through our approach is clearly the best one. Anyone as intelligent and rational as we are will totally understand and respond as we ask them to.

This almost never happens. While you are forming all your thoughts, the other person is doing the same. If the conflict includes a family trying to make a significant decision about Mom’s care, there are as many thoughtful and rational approaches as there are family members.

This is the value of mediation – it provides a safe place for every person in the conflict to fully express their thoughts. Since each perspective is different, an expanded perspective begins to emerge. When the expanded perspective is combined with the facts of the situation, mutually beneficial solutions can be developed.

Challenge yourself – where do you find yourself in the Think Alike Syndrome? Take a moment and ask yourself, “I wonder what their perspective is?” Remembering that others think differently and that their viewpoints are as well-reasoned as yours can really help in a conflict situation.  Catherine Tornbom (2)  3/28/10.  See more about Catherine at

Friday, March 12, 2010

Mediator Qualifications

Wally Marcus

There has been an issue for years concerning whether a mediator must be an attorney. I have always believed that it is an issue of competency not profession. I took one family law course in law school and I don’t remember any family law questions on the bar exam. An attorney fresh out of law school probably knows less family law than a non attorney who has been mediating for years and has taken many continuing education programs. The issue was recently addressed by the Florida Supreme Court. The court removed any requirement that a mediator certified by the Florida Court must be an attorney. Gregory Firestone recently discussed the decision in an article in Spring 2008 issue of ACResolution. He stated, "with the momentous decision, the Florida Supreme Court has enhanced party self-determination in the selection of mediators and provided an important precedent for credentialing mediators throughout the world." See more at

As always, you can post a comment about this blog or Mediation. See more at our web site at Wally Marcus 3/12/10