November has been a busy month for Little Falls Mediation. We were asked to teach a negotiating skill to a class at Leadership Arlington and to be interviewed on AWE radio. We had a great time talking about mediation to all!
Leadership Arlington: We were approached by Leadership Arlington Economic Development team participant Maura Fredericks, who asked us to give a talk about mediation and negotiation. Leadership Arlington is a nine-month program which promotes a strong commitment to strengthening and building the Arlington community. Participants included approximately 55 leaders and CEOs from the private, public and nonprofit sectors.
I had been looking for an opportunity to work with my colleague Renee Reynolds and was thrilled to include her in the presentation. Renee and I gave an overview of the mediation process. We talked about the work of Bill Eddy, who has developed techniques to move high conflict interactions forward. One technique is used in responding to challenging emails -- a response should be BIFF (brief, informative, friendly, and firm.) We also spoke about Bill's "So What's Your Proposal" negotiating technique that is used in face to face mediations. "So What's Your Proposal" keeps the parties focused on making proposals and agreements rather than on getting stuck in what happened in the past. We then gave the class a scenario that involved a conflict -- locating a fire station on the playing field of a new 6th to 12th grade school -- and had participants form groups of three so that they could practice how to use "So What's Your Proposal". One person played the part of the parent of a student attending the school. One person played the part of a homeowner with no children who did not want the fire station located in front of her house as an alternative location. One person played the part of the neutral mediator helping the parties to communicate and negotiate with each other and to ultimately resolve the dispute.
AWE Radio and Arlington Independent Media: Karen Beauregard Bate, leader of Arlington Women Entrepreneurs, has a weekly radio show on WERA 96.7 at Arlington Independent Media. She interviews entrepreneurs and asks them to talk about the story of what led them to start their businesses. As a mediator, I am usually the one who listens to other people's stories so I was really out of my comfort zone to take a turn as the storyteller on the air! Karen asked all about my education, background, and previous employment, as well as what a mediator does and what a mediation looks like. I emphasized that a top priority is making people feel safe and welcome in the mediation room so that they are comfortable talking about the particular dispute. Many people are very vulnerable when it comes to discussing disagreements and prefer to completely avoid talking about conflict. I also talked about how I say to the parties in a mediation that it is really important to keep your power when resolving conflict -- and not to give away your power to a judge or to lawyers! No one knows the unique facts and circumstances surrounding a dispute like the parties do. So in mediation, the parties will talk to each other face to face in a voluntary, confidential, and collaborative way with the help of a neutral mediator to resolve their particular dispute.
Below is the link to the AWE radio interview:
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Ellice Halpern, J.D., is a Virginia Supreme Court certified general and family mediator.