Getting Past Yes

Often, parties in conflict agree on wanting to mediate, but struggle over where and how to begin:  what to propose or counter-propose, and on what they should base their first move.

One difficulty, certainly, is putting aside the sense that a concession or sign of weakness is being communicated.  It helps to be reminded that in mediation there are no decision-makers involved other than the parties, themselves.  No legal determination will be rendered, and the parties’ obligation of confidentiality means only they will know what went into crafting their arrangement, and why they decided it was the better alternative.

As for where to begin, I believe the process of achieving agreement – and inherent desires of closure and finality – is eased by looking forward, not back.  I recommend parties approach with an eye toward where they’d like to go from “here” or what kind of arrangement may benefit their life or business “now,” rather than seeking an outcome that primarily redresses the past.  Proposals of the former kind are practical in nature, and allow for creativity.  They also avoid nonnegotiable discussions over matters such as principle and personally drawn conclusions over past events.

These notions can not only help set a productive exchange in motion, but can also assist parties throughout the process of achieving resolution.

About Maria Hanna Joseph

Maria Hanna Joseph is Principal of Joseph Mediation. Her 25 years of experience in employment law, include 16+ of work and mediating for the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination which through which she has gained valuable insight into the MCAD, its practices and decision making. This, as well as her experience in plaintiff and defense litigation, with private and public sector clients, international and local business concerns, and in issues from harassment and discrimination, to noncompetition agreements, business operation, transgender workplace matters, retaliation and many others, lend her valuable perspective for understanding and mediating an array of legal and personal issues. In terms of volume, Maria has served more than 2,000 cases. Maria's practice has been honed with study of mediation at Harvard Law School's Program of Instruction for Lawyers, negotiation at Harvard Law School's Program on Negotiation, and in the disciplines of Transformative Mediation and Family/Domestic Mediation, which are significant assets in managing the personal nature of employment disputes, and conflict in general. Attorneys and parties know Maria as candid, pragmatic and persevering in her commitment to help them achieve meaningful settlements while keeping sight of their most important interests. The insight and creativity afforded by her experience and training are realized in the resolutions that manifest. These qualities, along with her demeanor and the trust she engenders, have earned Maria a reputation for being able to manage highly tense and fraught situations and individuals, and settle a wide variety of disputes and tough cases.
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