From the Mediation Matters Blog of Steve Mehta.
As I sit here today in a local restaurant in Oceanside, I can only think about two similar, yet extremely different experiences I had in two breakfast spots. It reminds me of some rules that apply to all businesses.
First let me explain my situation. On Saturday, I went to the Longboarders Cafe, a local breakfast place recommended by the concierge. Yesterday, I went to the Beach Break Cafe, also recommended by the concierge. Both experiences were diametrically opposed.
The Longboarder Cafe had some nice murals on the walls of surf activities. That was it to the surf theme. The staff was friendly but not overly friendly and the food was good, but not overly good. 3 stars if you ask me.
However, the Beach Break Cafe was out of this world. Immediately when you enter, the ambiance hits you. At least 30 surfboards adorn the place. In addition, surf pictures are so plentiful, you could substitute them for coffee cups. The staff was extremely friendly and they even provided complimentary coffee while you waited. The food was also delicious.
Two similar restaurants: One that did the job, the other that showed that it loved to do the job.
This principle is true for lawyers and mediators. There are many mediators that just simply go about the task that has been assigned to them as if they are simply doing a job. They are good at what they do and get adequate results. But something is missing. On the other hand, there are mediators that love what they do. You can tell the difference, and it is not necessarily whether the case resolves or not.
But how does a mediator create ambience? Simple, your smile. Your introduction. Your demonstration that the clients mean something to you besides a paycheck. Your demonstration that you are committed to the process — and not just to stroke your ego that you settled the case.
Another way to look at mediator ambience is to see how you feel and act 4 hours into the process. Are you positive? Can you keep pressing on when you feel that the parties don’t want to do so. Do you show that you love what you do?
Finally, the question is what do you do that is above and beyond the call of duty?
If you answer no to these questions or you don’t know the answer, you might have to change your perspective if you expect the adoration of the Beach Break Cafe.
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