Friday, October 10, 2008

Conflict Resolution Day...

is October 16. Since I'm going to be out of town that day, I wanted to post an announcement about it now.
Conflict Resolution Day is an effort by the Association for Conflict Resolution to increase public awareness about conflict resolution and its many benefits. We'll be seeing governors, mayors, and other officials proclaiming October 16 as "Conflict Resolution Day." ACR also provides a lot of public education about conflict resolution.
This is a wonderful opportunity to think about destructive conflicts in our lives and resolve to do something positive about them.
Happy Conflict Resolution Day!

It's raining mediation

An interesting mediation tidbit from another blogger:

The state of Iowa has a flood mediation program to help consumers and their insurance companies make sure flood claims are being handled fairly. As you may remember, there was significant flooding in Iowa this past summer, resulting in governor declaring 83 of Iowa's 99 counties disaster areas.

Nobel Peace Prize

Congratulations to former Finnish President Martti Ahtisaari on claiming the Nobel Peace Prize. While perhaps not a household name, Ahtissari, a life-long diplomat, has worked to solve international conflict all over the world, including Northern Ireland, Aceh, and Kosovo.

In the article published by DW-World.DE, Ahtissari is quoted as saying that his interest in peace mediation began as a child when his hometown was "seceded" to the former USSR during World War II.

He also noted that "mediation is 'an art' rather than an established practice."

I've seen that in my practice, both as a mediator and as an advocate for a party in mediations. One can read all of the literature about mediation and conflict resolution that they can--and I think they ought to--but the great mediators have "it". The "it" is the combination of savy, personality, temperment, skill, and experience that is rare. And, great mediators really love what they do. Peacemaking is not a job to the great ones; it is a calling.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Does good governance act as a tool for resolving conflicts?

Yes, according to Nigerian author MJ Amachree, from Rivers State University of Science and Technology.  Good governance means many things, but it includes concepts such as popular representation, respect for minority rights, accountability, the rule of law, transparency, and due process protections. Without these safeguards (along with others mentioned in the article), the government degenerates, which can bring about conflict.  

Copper Mine Mediation

The Sahuarita Sun reports that the US Institute for Environmental Conflict Resolution, in conjunction with a private mediator, will facilitate a working group to analyze thousands of comments on the Rosemont Copper mine proposal.  The goal is to help clarify comments made by citizens for the benefit of the Forest Service.

Derailing Resolution

Here's a short, but informative article, from Linda Henman of Henman Performance Group.  She explains ten thoughts/behaviors/acts/attitudes to keep conflict productive:

  1. Successful conflict resolution depends on solutions, not winning.
  2. Have a specific goal in mind, one that you can make in just one sentence.
  3. Depersonalize the conflict.
  4. State your desire to resolve the problem at the outset of the conflict.
  5. Build on areas of agreement before addressing areas of difference.
  6. Listen to the other person before you give your own ideas.
  7. Understand, don't criticize.
  8. Avoid entrenched positions.
  9. Use specific, concrete language.
  10. Rely on facts instead of inferences.

Divorcing nicely, Canadian style

The CBC aired a documentary on a "good divorce" on January 9, 2009.  Entitled "How to Divorce and Not Wreck the Kids," the producers examine three couples going through a divorce:  one using a do-it-yourself kit, one using a mediator, and one using collaborative divorce.  The producers say that the documentary is "the latest compelling evidence to convince separating parents to keep conflict away from their kids."

Monday, October 6, 2008

An attorney, a counselor, and a lawyer...

This doesn't really have anything to do with dispute resolution, but it addresses a question I get a lot. What's the difference between the terms "attorney," "lawyer," and "counselor" ("attorney and counselor at law")?

The good Bryan Garner and his Daily Usage Tip of the Day answers this question. I quote in total from the October 6, 2008 tip:

Garner's Usage Tip of the Day

lawyer; attorney; counsel; counselor. The two most common among these, "lawyer" and "attorney," are not generally distinguished even by members of the legal profession -- except perhaps that "lawyer" is often viewed as having negative connotations. Thus one frequently hears about "lawyer-bashing," but only the tone-deaf write "attorney-bashing" -- e.g.: “Attorney-bashing [read 'Lawyer-bashing'] always will be a popular pastime.” Christopher Smith, “Injury Lawyer May Be Utah’s Best -- Bar None,” Salt Lake Trib., 7 Feb. 1994, at A1.

Technically, "lawyer" is the more general term, referring to one who practices law. "Attorney" literally means “one who is designated to transact business for another.” An attorney -- archaically apart from the phrases "power of attorney" and, less commonly, "attorney-in-fact" -- may or may not be a lawyer. Thus Samuel Johnson’s statement that "attorney" “was anciently used for those who did any business for another; now only in law.” A Dictionary of the English Language (1755).

From the fact that an attorney is really an agent, Bernstein deduces that “a lawyer is an attorney only when he has a client. It may be that the desire of lawyers to appear to be making a go of their profession has accounted for their leaning toward the designation attorney.” Theodore M. Bernstein, The Careful Writer 60 (1965). Yet this distinction between lawyer and attorney is rarely, if ever, observed in practice.

In American English, "counsel" and "counselor" are both, in one sense, general terms meaning “one who gives (legal) advice,” the latter being the more formal term. "Counsel" may refer to but one lawyer {opposing counsel says} or, as a plural, to more than one lawyer {opposing counsel say}.

There. That answers the question.