ADR

Whenever a family comes together to mediate a conflict the willingness to show up to mediate needs to be acknowledged as a brave first step. Each family member who shows a willingness to take a risk and have a conversation has already taken a step towards resolution even before the conversation begins. That willingness is something the mediator will want to help members build on as they take incremental steps forward. Problem-solving tools are perfect for building on that willingness. In the previous post we talked about taking away mom’s car keys when her car is showing signs that her…
Last week we looked at the secret sauce of mediation…the shift that the process is designed to support as parties move off of their hardened positions to identifying the things that are important to them each, their “interests.” We looked at the situation where mom’s car has some unexplained dents and the adult children don’t agree on what should be done…take away mom’s car keys are let her keep driving. The children have different concerns; one doesn’t want mom to become isolated if she gives up the car, the other doesn’t want anyone to get hurt because of mom’s driving.To…
Mediators come to the table looking for a shift in perspective by the parties. They’re not going to say that up front, maybe not at all. But that is the secret sauce of mediation…giving the parties enough space and time to be heard, and to listen, to create an opening for new perspectives and new solutions to take hold. When I run workshops on how mediation works I like to use the dilemma of whether we should take away Mom’s car keys to illustrate the possibilities. Mom’s car has a few unexplained dents and Mom’s not saying anything about it.…
If you’ve never been to a mediation you’re probably wondering what happens at the first session with the mediator. And if the dispute that brings you to mediation is filled with a lot of emotion for some or all of the people involved, you may be feeling the same level of anxiety about a first session as some people feel about going to the dentist for a root canal. So let me help put everyone at ease by explaining what you might expect at the very first session. Simply put, the first session begins with introductions and ground rules, moves…
A mediator’s task is to facilitate negotiations of the participants not to decide the matter for them. The mediator may use different mediation techniques in conducting the mediation. If the mediator may believes that one of the parties to the mediation is not being realistic about the cost/benefit or the risk/reward of litigating a dispute she may act as “an agent of reality” and test that party’s assumptions about the conflict. There is no attorney-client relationship between the mediator and any party to the mediator’s agreement and the parties typically acknowledge that they will not rely on any opinions that…
Last week I explained what the “scope of the mediation,” “good faith” and “impartiality” means in a mediator’s agreement. Today we’ll look at one very important term that you can expect to see in the mediator’s agreement. A cornerstone of any mediator’s agreement is the agreement to maintain “confidentiality.” This term is necessary to enable the parties to discuss all aspects of their dispute freely and to enable the mediator to effectively to assist the parties in reaching a voluntary resolution of their dispute. At the core of the “confidentiality” term is the principle of trust. The parties need to…
When you’re ready to hire a mediator the mediator will likely present everyone who is coming to the mediation with an agreement to sign before the mediation begins. For non-lawyers this written contract might appear to have a lot of legal terms that might make it seem like you need a lawyer to advise you before you sign on so I thought I’d point out the key terms you’re likely to see in the mediator’s agreement to make this next step a little less imposing. Typically the agreement with the mediator will name everyone who intends to participate in the…
After a family member contacts the mediator the mediator will reach out to the other family members who are concerned about the care and well-being of an elder in their lives and might want to be involved in the conflict resolution process. In this first contact the mediator will explain the basics of how mediation works and begin to discuss with each family member separately what their perspective is on the problem and what they would like to see happen. In this introductory call the mediator will inquire about each person’s interests as well as what their understanding is of…
For those who are still new to the process mediation is a confidential, voluntary conflict resolution process that is often more economical and more efficient than a lawsuit and often the only appropriate method for resolving disputes that shouldn’t be in court for a variety of reasons. How it works is that anyone can reach out to a mediator to start the ball rolling when there is a conflict brewing between family members. Let’s call that person the “whistleblower.” The mediator will have an in-depth discussion with the whistleblower about the principles that govern mediation and the process and fees…
No one wants to acknowledge that some people take advantage of the elderly but mediators who meet with families in conflict need to be on the lookout for anyone who might be exerting undue influence over an elder’s decisions and not ignore a huge elephant in the room. Elder abuse can take many forms but has certain common indicators: is the elder vulnerable with a reduced ability to resist persuasion; is the perpetrator in a position of power over the elder; has the perpetrator overpowered the will of the elder; and is the outcome of this influence unfair or improper.…
Conflict Coaching Can Help A client recently described a troubling situation with her elderly mother. Mom is living alone with the help of an aide but is not doing well and the client needs to consider next steps. Although there are multiple adult siblings, only the client is actively engaged in taking care of mom and the other siblings seem to be quite content with that arrangement. The choices for Mom are to stay where she is or to relocate to a facility that could meet her needs as those needs evolve. The conflict for the client is an internal…
F.A.Q. #2: How can mediation help when family members don’t approve of the decisions an elder is making? A: Sometimes just have a neutral, disinterested person in the room helps people navigate their way through difficult conversations. The mediator encourages agreement on RESPECT. Everyone will be treated with respect at the mediation even if there’s a long history of disagreement between family members.…
If you’re like me, sometimes you just don’t know where to begin when trying to solve a thorny problem. A dear friend used to say, “Just start in the middle, Marcy.” So in the spirit of starting anywhere here are some questions that people often ask when inquiring about elder mediation, along with some straightforward answers: FAQ 1: What kinds of conflicts do seniors have? A: Whenever an elder needs to make a decision about quality of life, care or financial planning people affected by the decision may have very strong opinions about the elder’s choices. When people with strong…
Please join me for this free webinar on “Building a Roadmap for Senior Care Decision-Making” on March 23, 2021, 11 a.m. EDT when I will join a panel of elder care experts to discuss conflict resolution for elders during the care-planning process. Here’s the link: www.SchnepsMedia.com/webinars Be sure to pre-register as space is limited!…
What could be worse than a loved one, and a 6th degree heir to the throne, cutting you off and leaving the country for good when you and the Duke are in your 90’s? I’m sure I could have helped. Dear Queen; did you ever hear of mediation? It’s a confidential process (I know how important that is to you) facilitated by a trained neutral facilitator (as in no biases towards anyone) and is economical (I’m pretty sure that’s an issue for you too) and efficient. With the right mediator, family legacy and inheritance planning issues can be discussed in…