High emotion is a standard part of mediation. Clients and lawyers both can be emotional. Working with these emotions effectively can save time in mediation, money over the long haul for the parties, and aggravation for clients and their families and friends.
We all know difficult people. We know the causes are habit, culture, high emotion, inappropriate strategies, illnesses and decision traps. We have all the standard responses to working with these problems – true listening, pre-mediation meetings, empathy, taking a break, referral to counseling, breaking down the issues, and the presence of a trusted friend, etc.
So, what about providing counsel with a written worksheet with a risk analysis of the hidden and often unstated risks and goals? Risks and goals that illuminate and quantify some of the difficult-to-value aspects of settlement such as publicity, gossip, religious concerns, health impact, alienation of others, lost time from work, etc. And, add to that financial impact of each of these factors. John Wade of Bond University in Queensland, Australia provided us with a fascinating new tool to use in highly emotional cases. With 60 or so top mediators from places as diverse as Hong Kong, Vancouver, and New York, all mediators had a different idea of how they may use this tool in their practice. Thanks John for an enriching afternoon.