Fairly Legal Blog by Clare Fowler
I just watched the Season Premier of Fairly Legal and was caught off-guard by the demeanor of Kate, the mediator and main character. She was pushy, she was adversarial, and she was condescending.
Mind you, she also got her clients a great deal.
But is it our job as mediators to win-win at all costs? Or to win-win, if that is the best thing for everyone, and if it helps them to be better in the long run.
There were multiple scenarios in the season premier where Kate fought hard for the money for her clients. But her aggressive personality left so many people feeling windswept that they were not satisfied with the outcome. Yes, on paper, both clients won. One side got an apology; the other side got a fair settlement. But they did not reach the settlement on their own. So neither side was able to feel the satisfaction of arriving at a fair settlement. Emotionally they were pushed to a satisfaction instead of having time to realize what it was they really wanted.
As mediators I prefer to bring peace to people from a place of peace. If I am anxious, tense, trying to prove something, or slaying my own dragons, I am not best serving my client. When these emotions arise, I feel it is best to call it a day, give everyone a chance to think, and plan on speaking again the following day. The agreement will look the same, but the clients will be at peace. Making it a win, win, and a deep contented sigh.
This article originally appeared in the April 1997 issue of Consensus, a newspaper published jointly by the Consensus Building Institute and the MIT-Harvard Public Disputes Program.More and more, proponents suggest...By Edward Scher