Negotiation News: Volume 5, Issue 3
Welcome back to Judge Mediation Negotiation News! I hope that everyone enjoyed a great 4th of July with family, friends and others wherever in the world the holiday took you. If you didn’t get away for the 4th, I hope you are able to enjoy the summer weather.
In this issue, we will discuss issue framing. It’s a constantly evolving process during the course of a mediation, often before and sometimes beyond. I hope this discussion will be useful and informative.
Freeze Frame? Best Not To
Picture this: You start off a mediation in a joint session with all the parties and decision makers present. You have submitted a confidential (or partially confidential) brief in which you have laid out the main issues of dispute in the case.
While the main issue in the case may remain substantially the same (payment of money from party A to party B, or getting party A to do something for the benefit of party B), it is important to be mindful of the motivations that drive the dispute and how they may change over time.
In a mediation some time ago, the plaintiffs began with a united front, determined to negotiate together, with indivisible interests in recovering the same amounts. They were two warriors behind the same shield. This position gave their counsel more than a few headaches to be sure, but I was able to speak with them separately, and have private discussions outside the presence of the other. As the mediation progressed, it became apparent that one of the plaintiffs was at a different point in his life than the other, and that the key to resolving the case for him was to provide for a net recovery sufficient to start out in life (being able to move into an apartment, start off on higher education, etc.). The other plaintiff was at a much different point in his life, simply seeking a smaller compensation but with a peaceful end to the dispute.
The plaintiffs probably hadn’t even considered these interests, since they had been united for the duration of the case. But the takeaway is a basic one: it’s imperative to remain flexible in identifying interests throughout a mediation, even when events and discussions appear to be progressing at breakneck speed in relation to case progress beforehand. Though this illustration is a damages issue related to plaintiff’s recovery, re-framing can occur on any side at any time throughout the session. Be open for it, listen for it, work on it with the mediator, and determine how best to communicate it to the other side(s).
Following a few of these basics if or when they arise will promote better settlements and lead to more satisfied clients!
- Enhanced Archives
On this website, you can go to the Negotiation News page, which contains a complete index to the archives of Negotiation News. If you need to look up something that was previously covered, it’s all there. I hope this will help you.
As always, when booking your mediation, please direct me to the website of your charity and I will donate part of the fees in your name.
Sean E. Judge is a mediator with offices in Woodland Hills, CA. In his 21 years as a litigator, he has represented corporate and institutional clients, and individual litigants and small businesses, both as Plaintiffs and Defendants. He can be reached via telephone at 818-616-8500, at www.judgemediation.com or via email at [email protected].