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Agreements That Stick

It truly is a lovely summer day here in Wellington, NZ.

The harbour has an emerald sheen to its unpolluted waters as large luxury liners disgorge tourists in floral shirts onto our streets to spend a small part of the $18.5 billion we will earn from visitors to our shores this peak season.

And it is with a bounce in my step that I make my way down the main street with a couple of days of solid work behind and in front of me, I can’t help thinking how all is w… SCRRAAAATH!!

Out of the blue, I spy coming towards me a lawyer who I had last seen in a difficult, but in the end wildly successful, mediation about a week before Christmas.

When he reaches me he tells me with stooped shoulders that he’s had a devil of a time keeping his people to the agreement they signed on the day. He advises how they have stalled at every turn and many aspects of the agreement are still to be delivered on.

Confused, I asked – how can that be?… as the image of his client claiming an unsolicited and energetic kiss from me as we closed, fills my head.

Really, I say. What more could we all have done?

I had reality tested his client all day and as the deal was coming together, I had even engineered a quite private moment with her and her business partner to ask if they really wanted to do this, was it something they could live with, how would they feel waking up tomorrow, did they want some time out on their own away from the suits….

And anyway, of all the deals in the past six months I would not have picked this one for post-mediation melancholia. I guess you never know.

How many other deals in my dark past were having trouble sticking?

Paranoia took hold… ‘that mediator guy can get a deal but his durability index stinks…’

How do mediators ever know? We come into the dispute, we shake it around, we leave – who was that guy?

Is it good enough simply to wait to be told or should we be doing more to find out what’s sticking and what’s not?

                        author

Geoff Sharp

Geoff Sharp is a Commercial Mediator from Wellington, New Zealand. Geoff works in the Asia Pacific region, including New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand and Pacific Islands. He is a mediator resolving business problems. He is a fellow of the International Academy of Mediators and mediates complex and hotly debated litigation covering… MORE >

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