I am lucky. Every 6 months for the last 10 years, I have been fortunate enough to attend excellent seminars for commercial mediators on really interesting topics. Next week the International Academy of Mediators will meet in Napa Valley, California (yes, there will be wine tasting) to learn new techniques for moving difficult people to settlement (always helpful to have more tools), how to detect lying and make deals in spite of lying (you mean people lie in mediation?), and the timing, delivery and sincerity of apology (how to making apologies genuine and useful). Sounds like useful information for anyone.
John Wade, of Bond University in Queensland, Australia will be teaching “Negotiations with Difficult People and Improving Your Persuasive Power.” He will be providing us with 3 sets of new tools for moving parties toward settlement. First, he will provide a new form of analysis that goes beyond the traditional analysis of “What do you think the court is likely to do in your case?” Lawyers have praised John’s approach as a valuable tool for helping clients address personal and business objectives at mediation. The second set of tools addresses categories of “difficult people,” and provides techniques to convert them from obstacles to advocates for settlement, including scripts for engaging them in pre-mediation sessions. The third set of tools draws upon current research on “persuasion” in marketing and psychology to identify practical tips specifically for mediators in the trenches. I met John Wade in San Francisco one year ago and found him delightful. He was contemplating a move to Vancouver, British Columbia to be closer to his grown children.
Professor Clark Freshman of Hasting University in San Francisco regularly trains lawyers in lie detection and emotional skills. He will be teaching a session entitled, “Dodging Lies and Making Deals: Emotional Awareness for Negotiation, Compassion, and Lie Detection.” He will examine what we already think we “know” about lies and contrast that with what science suggests. He will also introduce some examples of universal emotions, including recognizing the universal facial expressions for contempt and for distinguishing different types of smiles. Finally, he will review several video examples of lying and discuss how to respond when we see such emotions or signals, including when emotions may indicate lying and when they may arise for other reasons.
Nina Meierding, a well-known mediator and trainer, will teach “Why Can’t They Just Say They’re Sorry: The Art and Science of the Apology.” She will explore the many types of apologies (including rapport, transactional, full and partial) as well as the effect of timing, delivery, emotionality and sincerity. She will focus on how different cultures view fairness, truth and forgiveness and the impact of these beliefs on both giving and receiving apologies. With a more complete understanding of the intricacies of an apology she will teach us how to help our clients move beyond numbers and seek a greater level of resolution and closure by giving and receiving apologies in a way that is both strategic and sincere.
The presentations at the IAM conferences are second to none. However, socializing with other mediators, comparing mediation stories, and sharing negotiating strategies enriches the professional experience. I learn more from colleagues at dinner than can be imagined. I always come home from these conferences with new ideas and renewed energy.