(This is the sixteenth in a series of posts on preparing for mediation.)
Lawyers who litigate for a living are apt, at times, to take on the persona of a warrior.
As a lawyer representing clients in litigated conflict, I have taken on my client’s causes as my own. Sometimes it feels like winning is everything and the only thing. The skill set used in day-to-day litigation tends to be zealous, aggressive advocacy.
When I speak to litigators about mediation, I sometimes start with what mediation is not.
It is not armed conflict.
It is not hand-to-hand combat.
It is not Moot Court.
Mediation calls upon us to use a different skill set. One that is more collegial, cooperative and collaborative. Best to leave the attack dog persona at home.
Effective negotiators listen to, and often out-listen, the other side. They accentuate the positive. They look for common ground. They talk about interests, not positions. They engage the other side in problem solving. They figure out ways to create value.
To be an effective negotiator, changing your attitude can reap rewards for your clients. Imagine a mediation in which you “won” by creating value for your client. And in the process, you were your own best (albeit tough) self.
It starts with the mood and attitude you take into the mediation room. If you walk in feeling positive and optimistic, you’ll be more likely to stay balanced throughout the mediation and get a better result for your client.
Be positive. Stay positive. See the difference it makes.