Search Mediators Near You:

How Starting the Negotiation is Like Ziplining

Conflict Zen Blog by Tammy Lenski

Yesterday, my husband and I traversed burma bridges and climbed ladders to reach a narrow platform high up in a huge white pine, known as “White Knucke Pine.” Perfect name, believe me.

It was the last element in a zipline canopy tour we took in the White Mountains and it was the scariest of all the ziplines. As I stood on the edge of the platform and looked at the very steep drop of the cable before it crossed to the other mountainside, the screams of the people who’d jumped off before me reverberated in my head.

“Anytime you’re ready,” said our guide, who’d just attached my carabiners to the zipline. The tall tree we were standing in swayed in the breeze, reminding me how very high up we were. Did I mention I’m not so fond of heights?

“I’m not sure I can do this one,” I said quietly, more to myself than to the guide.

“You’ve done the others. Don’t think. You’re ready and able. Just go.”

That had been my planned mantra from the moment we agreed that we’d spend this and every future anniversary doing something daring we hadn’t ever done before. As we sat in the off-road vehicle taking us up to the first zipline, I’d told myself, “Don’t think. If you think, you’ll talk yourself into pausing, and pausing will give you time to scare yourself. Just jump. Just jump. Just jump.” I’d done that on all the prior jumps and had been grinning ear to ear for well over an hour of 1000-foot-long ziplines up to 200 feet in the air.

But all the other ziplines kind of went outward first, not down down down like this one, and none had been from this high up in a tree on a swaying platform with no railing.

As the guide said, “Just go,” I did. I plunged down 80 feet and shot across the valley at around 50 mph, looking out at magnificent views and down at the tops of other very tall trees. No scream, just a rush of adrenaline and a big smile. Then, from the other side, I turned to watch my husband swoop down and fly toward me, a huge grin on his face as he approached.

When my negotiation and conflict resolution coaching clients are ready to step up to the difficult conversation or negotiation for which they’ve sought my assistance, I often see a hesitancy similar to the one I experienced on that platform. They start thinking their way out of having the conversation or confronting the problem or attending to the negotiation. They let their fear start catastrophizing.

“Don’t think,” the guide has said, “You’re ready and able. Just go.” When you’ve done the right prep, it’s good advice for ziplining and for negotiating.


Managing Editor In business since 1996, is the world’s leading mediation and dispute resolution website with over 7 million annual site visitors. serves as a bridge between professionals offering dispute resolution services and individuals and businesses needing those services. was awarded the 2010 American Bar Association Institutional Problem Solver of… MORE >

Featured Mediators

View all

Read these next


Reflections on the State and Future of Commercial Arbitration

In Part One of this series, Disputing highlighted a portion of Pepperdine University School of Law Professor Thomas Stipanowich’s research paper entitled “Reflections on the State and Future of Commercial...

By Beth Graham

Saying Goodbye: How Dispute Resolution Firms Cope With The Departure Of A Senior Practitioner

This article originally appeared in the January 1998 issue of Consensus, a newspaper published jointly by the Consensus Building Institute and the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program.What's it like for a...

By Sarah McKearnan

Introducing a New Definition of Mediation

This article was originally published on the Kluwer blog here.Mediation: “The insertion of a human buffer between people who need assistance to interact with each other.” This definition speaks to...

By Greg Rooney

Find a Mediator