Looking back over my career as a trial court judge, I believe that the thing that brought me the most gratification was helping people to resolve their disputes voluntarily. In fact, in my current work as a private mediator I am still able to do that, so the gratification continues.
But upon reflection, many of the things that I do professionally to facilitate voluntary resolutions of disputes could also be utilized by everyone to resolve their daily disputes. So I thought I would use today’s column to pass along some of the tips that I have learned throughout the years, and I recommend you consider and employ them, and even discuss them with your children and grandchildren to help train them to be peacemakers.
One tool to use at the beginning of settlement discussions is to anticipate the moments in which people on one side or the other may get emotional or upset by asking questions like: “How should we handle it when. . . ?” Many times, settlement discussions are frustrated by these situations. But if you have anticipated them by asking this question, people will see the emotions for what they are, and be able to get through them.