The Role of Patience

Patience.ImageToo often, people act quickly on negative first impressions about the likelihood of settling and do not give the parties and the process time. Without patience, they throw in the towel and end up with ensuing litigation without really knowing if it was avoidable.  

It’s good to recognize that there’s usually a tipping point between being reserved towards settlement and being intentional about it, and it takes patience for minds to get there. Mediation manages this by being gradually structured. It takes time on purpose.

Attorneys are well served by preparing clients for incremental movement. They can explain that this pace provides the time one or both need to digest information and adjust expectations which are part of the flow of progress. To their benefit, parties’ choices become clearer and rationale becomes more balanced against reservations. Not surprisingly, this actually increases the likelihood of settling.

I recently mediated with two very anxious parties. The defendant could barely let me finish a sentence. He wanted to spend as little time as possible mediating. The plaintiff was very emotional and equally in a hurry to get through the process – settlement or no. What was obvious from my vantage point but not from theirs was that both absolutely wanted to settle and both absolutely needed time to acclimate along the way to get there.

Adjusting their pace and expectations about the process got them to and past the tipping point. They became intent on reaching resolution, and succeeded. In fact, their terms were more satisfactory than they’d anticipated. They also arrived at a very amicable place, able to discuss the finalizing details in person. Patience is what saved the day.

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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