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Redefining Standard

by Vivian Scott
September 2011

Conflicts of Interest Blog by Vivian Scott

Vivian Scott

I’m having chicken noodle soup for breakfast—because I choose to. It’s probably not what most people are opting for this morning, and it certainly would turn a few heads if I ordered it at the local diner but I’m going with my gut here and answering my hankering for a bowl of comfort on this rainy, Seattle morning.

I didn’t feel the need to consult anyone about my choice today but the mental process I went through to heat up the good stuff made me wonder why the decision to buck the norm took so much time and seemed, well, a little radical. I remembered a recent item from the Internet that covered the idea of choices and how our preferences are often influenced by the preferences of others. We have a multi-cultural society and yet when it comes to what to have for breakfast we often limit ourselves to choices like eggs, cereal, and pastries. Most people would call that standard breakfast fare.

And, speaking of standard, many of my mediation clients ask me what’s standard or want me to tell them what most people do when faced with choices like the ones they’re about to make. What’s standard has become an artificial choice for many. When couples are building parenting plans the standard protocol seems to be that Mom becomes residential parent, the kids see Dad every other weekend and on Wednesday evenings, and then the two adults cannibalize holidays making the kids go back and forth for meals, events, and gifts. Turns out, this standard arrangement doesn’t really work for a lot of families.

My clients may not know in the beginning that standard isn’t going to work for them, so I suppose it’s as good a place as any to start. What would be nice, though, is after they’ve tried standard on for a while they could admit to one another that standard doesn’t fit the bill and maturely go back to the drawing board to create something that fits them like a glove. I’m not sure how to make that way of approaching agreements a standard approach, though. I’m just having one of my standard early-morning, single-participant brainstorming sessions. I’ll have to noodle on that for a while.

Biography


Vivian Scott is a Professional Certified Mediator and the author of Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies.  She spent many years in the competitive and often stress-filled world of high tech marketing where she realized resolving conflict within the confines of office politics was paramount to success.  Through creative solutions to common conflicts she was able to bring various entities together, both internally and externally, for the betterment of projects and a productive working environment.     

Prior to retiring from Microsoft in 1999 she developed the “America at Work” video series, a six-part program featuring small businesses employing technology in attention-grabbing ways.  “America at Work” aired on the USA Network and received the Silver Screen Award from the International Film and Video Festival for outstanding creativity.   Using discerning negotiation, mediation, and problem-solving skills, she successfully worked with others to co-create “How-to Guides”, “Seminar in a Box”, and even one of the first on-line Guerrilla Marketing books.   

Since her retirement, Ms. Scott has gone on to earn a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences with a concentration in American Studies from the University of Washington.  She completed an extensive practicum with the Dispute Resolution Center of Snohomish & Island Counties where she has mediated numerous cases, helping parties resolve conflict in workplace, family, and other disputes.  Her private mediation practice has handled cases ranging from assisting business partners in ending their relationship to creating a new working environment within a law firm.  Ms. Scott is a member of the Washington Mediation Association and spends a majority of her time advocating embracing peace in a volatile world.   

Her book, Conflict Resolution at Work For Dummies, can be found in bookstores, on www.amazon.com, www.dummies.com, or any number of on-line bookseller sites.    



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Website: www.vivianscottmediation.com

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