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Mediation-A Way Of Life

Life is its own journey, presupposes
its own change and movement, and one
tries to arrest them at one’s peril.

Laurens Van der Post

“Your…journey may be easier if you think of negotiating…less less of a battle to fight and more of a mutually beneficial win/win for both parties.”

“Your first step is to make a list of the issues that are top priority for you and which ones you’d be willing to concede…if need be. These become your hot buttons and will keep you focused on what’s most important in the negotiations.”

“A second negotiating tip is crucial: The first offer sets the stage for all other negotiations that follow. This is important since a misstep early on can stall or end negotiations almost as they begin.”

“A classic example is when [one side] makes a low, even ridiculous, first offer. The [other side] becomes enraged and refuses to make a counteroffer. If he eventually makes one, it’s as equally ridiculous as the…offer.”

“While this doesn’t mean that you have to lead with a full-price offer, it does require that you justify the terms and conditions of the offer you’re making.”

“When it comes to negotiating…neither…gets to walk away with all the marbles. Decide which issues you want to score big on, go after them methodically and fairly, and enjoy the journey.”

Quotes from a textbook on mediation? Nope. These words of wisdom come straight from a March 24, 2002 Miami Herald article by Julie Garton-Good, a licensed Realtor – on the subject of negotiating for the purchase of a home. The article is entitled, “Negotiating should be win-win, not a battle.”

Which brings us to the theme of this editorial:
Mediation is a way of life, not just a means of resolving legal disputes.

I often hear an attorney’s client bemoan the tedious and “senseless” exercise of negotiating the settlement of a claim. I remind him that negotiating is something we do throughout our lives, whether dickering over the price of a car or a new home or resolving a squabble with our spouse or teenager. (Fortunately, young children are under the thumb of our parental dictatorship. We do not negotiate with them.)

Some stress is involved in any bargaining session. Adrenaline flow is essential. But haggling over the terms of a negotiated claim should not put you in a high state of anxiety – or in a denial of the necessity of the process. Imagine the experience of “street traders” in many countries. It is truly a way of life for them, and they do not slip into clinically depressed states because of it.

Also, be thankful you have, in the mediator, an intermediary to assist both sides in their quest for resolution. And the rewards are significant. When you resolve your dispute, you summarily avoid the stress, delay, cost and uncertainty of a trial by what should be your peers but are rarely so.

So, go after the win/win solution “methodically and fairly, and enjoy the journey.”


Edward P. Ahrens

Ed Ahrens has been a member of the Florida Bar for over 43 years. He is a certified state and federal court mediator in Tampa, Florida. He is also a freelance writer and former president of National Writers Association, South Florida Chapter. He is the author of the popular book,… MORE >

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