Advice for a New Decade/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

In Stephen Covey’s work, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People”, he lists this as Habit #3:

“Broken focus is the number one reason people fail. It’s not enough to start off on the right track; you must successfully avoid the unnecessary distractions and attractions of life that aim to sidetrack you… The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”

Mr. Covey did not write Habit#3 with mediation in mind. But for those who enter into a mediator, or who guide its process,it is crucial to “keep the main thing the main thing”. Good advice for the new decade and all those that follow.

Self-Respect/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

The pugilistic US Representative (R-Ohio) does not wear a jacket to public hearings. When asked if he ever wears a jacket, he said that when he needs to show respect (e.g. a visit to meet President Trump) he does wear one. By implication, this means that being invited to attend the Impeachment Hearing is not sufficient reason to show respect. A possible slight to his colleagues and/or to the American people? Judge for yourself.

It is difficult when sparring with an adversary, during a mediation session, to show civility and even respect. But at what price? Being ornery is a self-defeating stance. If you have self-respect, you can manifest this by showing respect to others. This applies equally to those with whom you disagree. Is wearing a jacket while representing the good people from the Buckeye state really too much of a sacrifice? Civility is always in fashion.

Mediate don’t litigate.

Expressed Feelings/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

The Program of Negotiation/Harvard University, published a post by Kathy Shonk, on December 12, 2019, entitled “Four Ways to Manage Conflict in the Workplace”. Specifically, the discussion included a treatment on the expression of emotions. Is it OK to express feelings of e.g disappointment, anger, hurt, etc. The answer to this question is in the affirmative. What can such expression accomplish?

*Expression of feelings is cathartic. It allows a party to be more comfortable with the ensuing discussion. The cards are now on the table.
*By being free with emotions, a party is seen in a more human context. They are no longer the enemy, but a party who feels aggrieved.
*Emotional release may lead to more frank discussion. It may encourage a reciprocal catharsis.
*Remember the maxim, never judge a person until you walk a mile in their moccasins. Free expression cal lead to greater understanding.

Divorce is Not a Transaction/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

The current movie about divorce is named “Marriage Story”. This represents an irony. A further complication is that the movie has no winners nor losers; there is likewise no hero and no villain. In this manner, the movie is like many divorces. No one truly comes out ahead. However, Alan Alda’s role as a divorce attorney points out a basic truism. To many attorneys a divorce is simply another transaction that must be managed. The Alda attorney prefers to view the players in the divorce scenario as “people”. This is not poetry in motion, but it is a truism. Mediation helps the parties re-gain a sense of their humanity and decency. Litigation is not geared to such an outcome. litigation can be said to view the drama as another transaction. Mediation remembers that there are people involved and people affected by the divorce activity. Mediate don’t litigate is more than a pithy catch-phrase. It is the (only) way to ensure that people going through marital dissolution are always viewed as people in need of proper treatment. It may not make for great poetry but it is often the best result that can be effected by divorce professionals. Civil divorce is possible. Mediation makes that happen with great success. Mediation is worth a dedicated try for that very reason.