If you want to meet many of the most talented mediators in the world, come join us in Denver April 13-15, 2011. I’m not kidding. This is one of the best meetings of the year.
I have always enjoyed the ABA Dispute Resolution Section conferences. Years ago (2001), I popped into a life-changing session. The room was sweaty and packed – standing room only – Bob Creo and Cliff Hendler were discussing 10 Ways to Avoid Impasse. I took pages and pages of notes. And, I rarely do that. Later that day, I ran into Cliff and Bob at the elevator and was invited to a reception at United States Supreme Court. That night I met members of the International Academy of Mediators (IAM) and met some of my now-closest friends and greatest mentors. I began to attend their conferences every 6 months and learn the techniques that moved me way ahead my mediation practice. That was the beginning of my real career as a mediator.
So, this year Professor Robert Mnookin, who wrote Bargaining with the Devil: When to Negotiate, When to Fight, will be speaking about his book at the American Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Conference in Denver. As we try to assist others in trying to understand when to bargain and when to fight, I found Mnookin’s “traps” very enlightening. Long story short – we usually are not dealing with “evil” people and even if we are, there are ways to negotiate. Take Hitler, terrorists, or other evil governments – there are effective ways to negotiate – much of the time. Mnookin uses Nelson Mandela to illustrate how a man wrongfully imprisoned managed to successfully negotiate his freedom.
When I was on a conference call for one of my upcoming sessions in Denver, I was intrigued as voices were raised. Can a white Jewish male really relate to the challenges an African American male faces in mediation? And, how does each of them use their diversity in mediation to get the case closed? What about the challenges facing women, I asked Marvin? How do we step into and out of these troubling areas? We all use our diversity to close cases even though it is often the elephant in the room. So, come join our lively discussion in a session entitled “How Diversity and Culture Add to Successful Resolution: Its Not Just About Settling the Case.” Deb Masucci, Vice President of Chartis Insurance, with an incredible breadth of experience in mediation, will be facilitating the panel. Marvin Johnson, a buddy of mine from the IAM who is a superstar veteran of mediation (Obama recently appointed him to a panel of the Labor Relations Board), Joe Epstein, another good friend from the IAM and a busy mediator in Colorado and Arizona, and I will be presenting on how we use our differing diversity to close cases.
And then, about the new book. Stories Mediators Tell. Eric Galton and Lela Love contacted a few of us last summer and asked if we would be willing to write a chapter for their book, Stories Mediators Tell, due to be published by the American Bar Association this Spring. Many of the storytellers will gather in a session in Denver to discuss the stories in the book along with our reflections on the lessons we learned.
I will be in Denver a day early judging a law school mediation advocacy competition, and I am an honorary host. So, come join me. It may change your life too.