Comments: Hotel Rwanda and the Guerrilla Negotiator

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Linda Liljedahl, Baton Rouge LA     03/10/05
Real World Negotiation vs. All Those ADR Theories
Bob - what can I say? what can anyone say? You keep hitting the nail on the head right after I've thought something very similar, usually stated it to someone that is not familiar or used to looking at negotiation, mediation or even ADR in general as a theory of life. Or usually worse, someone who lives in that ivory tower, and refuses to see the obvious - we either learn to negotiate &/or mediate for survival, or we won't continue to be. Oh well . . . I think I still have enough time to enjoy many more thoughtful, intelligent - plus well-seasoned with common sense observations of life from you. Keep up the great work!! Always, Linda

charles , los angeles ca   03/05/05
My team of copy editors and spell checkers failed to notice an error in my first post which therefore should be disregarded; and if anyone wants to hire my 3 ex-copy editors and 2 ex-spell checkers, you will find them loitering on the corner of Ventura and Van Nuys. Here's how it should read: I prefer piquant dishes prepared with intellectual gusto and irritated dissatisfaction withOUT the usual cliches. RB is such a cook and I shall leave a large tip.

charles parselle, los angeles ca     03/05/05
"There are diamonds in the sewer, Down below; There are watches you can't wind, Wrapped up in bacon rind, And that isn't all you find, Down below" Sometimes, picking through the garbage as one must do these days, one finds a diamond; this one has the name Robert Benjamin etched on it. To try another metaphor, if I reach ninety I may have to be satisfied with gumming bread and milk sops; until then, I prefer piquant dishes prepared with intellectual gusto and irritated dissatisfaction with the usual cliches. RB is such a cook and I shall leave a large tip.

robert benjamin, Portland OR   03/04/05
Ron, Thank you for your thoughtful comment. You have raised an important issue. You are quite right that there is a distinction between the purpose and focus of a negotiator with a clear interest and desire in a particular outcome and a third party mediator committed to allowing a substantially informed outcome to come about. However, the core skill base of both is negotiation. The mediator must effectively negotiate her or his authority with each and every party and be an effective negotiation coach to all concerned. To be effective, the mediator has to be actively engaged with everyone. (Hopefully, the notion of the disengaged "neutral" mediator is receding.) Thus, the effectiveness of the mediator, like the negotiator, is fundamentally dependent on his or her ability to project a sense of authenticity. To that extent, Paul Rusesabagina's negotiation approach, while he obviously was not formally working as a mediator, is worth our careful study as mediators. Watch him deal with people he doesn't necessarily like or trust. Watch him effectively work to shift the context of difficult situations so that the other party considers a different perspective---"Go ahead and kill me...I wish you would....but who will be there to tell the War Crimes tribunal what you did to help us?" These are the same tactics sophisticated mediators use to manage difficult disputes.

ron severns, Fresno CA     03/03/05
I'm new to mediation, but it seems to me that there is a difference between mediation and negotiation and what is shown in this film is negotiation, rather than mediation. In negotiation I've committed myself to work for one side. I hope the agreement is beneficial to the other side as well, but I'm not committed to their benefit. In mediation, I've got at least some degree of commitment to the benefit of both (or all) sides.

Evan , Olathe KS   03/03/05
Bob, Great article. You mentioned this movie at your training in Kansas City. Thanks for pushing the edge of our vocation. We need prophets to do our best...thanks for playing that role