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Ballroom Dancing for Lawyers

I mediated a couple of cases this week which unfortunately came to me after settlement conversations had begun. In each instance, one side refused to move off their pre-mediation demand by even a dollar. This lead me to the conclusion that lawyers may need legitimate ballroom dancing lessons. During my summer cruise, I actually took ballroom dancing lessons with my 21 year old son, and here are a few tips:

1) It is not good enough to get dressed and show up for the dance. You must get into position by the time the music starts.

2) It is not good enough to get into position and then stand in the same place. You must move your feet.

3) It is not good enough to merely kick or stomp your feet, you must attend to the rhythm of the music and the posture, mood and responses of your dancing partner.
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4) It is not good enough to move always in the same direction: ballroom dancing is a give and take, back and forth, sometimes even circular motion–but motion (movement) is critical.

5) It is not your prerogative to dictate the song list: this is done by consensus, or by the band or your host. You’ve been invited to the dance and accepted the invitation, so be gracious and “go with the flow”.

6) Starting the dance but then refusing to finish it if you don’t like the tune is unfair. Both your partner and your host will be disappointed and may not invite you to dance again.

7) Ballroom dancing can be a complicated, even unfamiliar and intimidating event, but if you start with a simple box step, you’ll be able to work on more complicated steps as the evening wears on. It takes practice, so don’t expect mastery in the first lesson!

Okay–you get my point, I hope. Please consider these tips before you get to your next mediation. At the very least, I hope it will cause you to crack a smile when we begin “the dance”!

Good luck!

                        author

Jan Frankel Schau

Attorney Jan Frankel Schau is a highly skilled neutral, engaged in full-time dispute resolution. Following a successful career spanning two decades in litigation, she has mediated over 700 cases for satisfied clients. Ms. Schau understands the nuances of trial and settlement practice as well as client relations and balancing the… MORE >

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