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