Comments: A Recipe for Peace

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Michael Leech, Chicago IL     01/11/06
Doug has put his finger on perhaps the most recurrent problem one encounters in mediation, and the only solution to it I know of. Before being exposed to his no-caucus model, my (lawyerly) instinct was to channel the competitive energy of people into the gamesmanship of negotiation, and accept the demonizing of adversaries in arguments favoring settlement, e.g., "This dispute puts you into a continuing relationship with that jerk--don't you think it would better to end the dispute and the relationship with it?" Even in what appear to be distributive disputes, Doug's insight has led me to extend the joint session and ask people to adopt a two-track approach: decide based on what is best for YOU to accept anything equal to or better than your BATNA, and then strive to negotiate an outcome as favorable as possible within that restriction. And guess what--some disputes that LOOK distributive--aren't distributive at all.

Deborah Laufer, Washington DC     01/08/06
A Recipe for Peace - Agreed!
Dear Mr. Noll: I enjoyed your article about how pride precludes many a conflict from reaching agreement. I find this very true in mediating workplace disputes in a multi-cultural international venue where ^saving face^ and principle becomes very strongly meshed with group identity. As a result, I often start mediations as you recommend in your article, with a discussion upon which the mediation can then proceed. The discussion is a type of ice-breaker to establish common ground. This can range from speaking about job aspirations, goals for a peaceful world, findinging commonalities of background among the parties, etc. Many thanks for your article. Deborah