The Role of Humility in Mediation
by Jan Frankel Schau
Jan Frankel Schau's Mediation Blog
Sometimes I have to step back and admit to myself that as the mediator, I am merely the guide to a voluntary conversation about whether and how a particular case may be settled. All too often, the headiness of coaching the parties and their wise counsel towards a settlement clouds my judgment and makes me confuse my true role. Sometimes, I have to admit, that I surprise myself with the kind of power that comes with the parties asking for my advice and trusting me with their truest interests and goals. Currently, I’m “managing” two multi-party mediations which did not settle at the initial hearing. Each of them are entrusting me to carry the torch, keep the flame alive, advise them on “next steps” and help them to predict the future. And I am glad to do it. And yet, ultimately I need to be ever mindful that, as the famous Polish Proverb states, “It’s not my circus, not my monkeys”. Whether the cases ultimately settle or not is up to the parties, not me. I have the power of suggestion, but, if I step back and genuinely do the work I ask the parties to do, I need to accept that I am powerless to make the parties do anything. It is their risk, their reward, their hidden interests, egos, pride that must be evaluated by them, and not me in choosing whether to settle or continue the fight. That is my poetic rant of this week. Agreed?
Attorney Jan Frankel Schau is a highly skilled neutral, engaged in full-time dispute resolution. Following a successful career spanning two decades in litigation, she has mediated over 700 cases for satisfied clients. Ms. Schau understands the nuances of trial and settlement practice as well as client relations and balancing the needs of their representatives with the risk and expenses of trial. Those who have used Ms. Schau’s services recognize excellence in her persistence, optimism, creativity and integrity.
Ms. Schau was the President of the Southern California Mediation Association in 2007 and is recognized as among the most outstanding mediators in Southern California in the mediation of civil disputes by her peers and clients. She also serves as a Trustee of the Board of Directors of the San Fernando Valley Bar Association, and has presided as Chair of it’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section and Litigation Section. She holds a Certificate of Advanced Skills in Negotiation from the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution of Pepperdine University as well as from the Western Law Center for Disability Rights at Loyola Law School.
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