Solution Focused Conflict Management

I’m reading such an interesting book, “Solution-Focused Conflict Management” by Fredrike Bannink. It occurs to me that there is an interesting dichotomy between the legal system, which is “problem focused” and the conflict resolution business which aims to be “solution-focused”. Clients bring their problems to lawyers and they help them to address them by going back and seeking damages from those who have injured them. When they come to the mediator, we can either assist in that endeavor, or meet them where they are and assist in “getting out of the conflict” by changing their future–without any promise or hope of changing their past.

Likewise, a client hires a lawyer to take action on their behalf in ways that they have been unable to do on their own. In solution based conflict resolution, the mediator gives the client back the responsibility and competence to make a decision which will affect change of their future. Bannink references a study which states that “a mediator can only mediate in the future tense.” What an interesting challenge to mediate without regard to “how you got here” or “what is the problem?” to “how can you make small steps that will help you achieve your future goals?” It makes me see the world of hope and possibilities differently already.


Jan Frankel Schau

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… MORE >

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