Aaron David Miller's Op-Ed piece in today's Los Angeles Times caught my eye. He calls it "State of Mind" and recounts four important qualities for President-elect Obama to consider in choosing a Secretary of State. Miller worked for six secretaries of state over twenty years and is the author of the book pictured. In brief, he says to succeed a Secretary of State needs the right persona, the President's confidence, a negotiator's mind-set and some balance of deviousness and toughness. I see these qualities as equally vital to the success of a mediator.
Miller says the top diplomat "needs to be an actor, a teacher, a tactician, an intimidator and a confidant." Sound familiar? He describes the negotiator's mind-set this way: "Teenagers talk on the phone, beavers build dams, and secretaries of state manage crises and solve problems. This means having a smart and tough view of the world, seeing how America's ends and means can fit together, and then knowing how to make them do so." He calls the particular mind-set "the intuitive capacity to see where the deal is, and to put oneself in the middle of the mix to bring it about". This is a perfect description of what a mediator does.
And here's the part I've never seen printed, but that also weighs in heavily in the artful mediation: "Deception is sometimes required and they maneuver constantly, trying to figure out what's necessary to succeed and how to use incentives, pressure, arm twisting and, when necessary, untruthfulness (either by omission or commission) to manage a crisis or close a deal."
So thank you, Aaron Miller, for articulating the true qualities of an artful mediator or Secretary of State. I'm looking forward to reading your thoughts on solving that pesky Middle-East issue next and looking forward to learning of Obama's choice for the role!
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.