Thanksgiving will soon be upon us. And while we will all give thanks for the many blessings that we have, I thought I would share some of the lesser known, but interesting facts about our national holiday. (Spoiler alert: This blog has absolutely nothing to do with mediation!)
There is an old adage, "Why do today what you can put off until tomorrow?" And indeed, many of us do just that because time is a precious commodity of which there is never enough.
The other day, I conducted two mediations between the same plaintiff's counsel, the same defendants and their counsel. The only different party in the two mediations was the plaintiff. One mediation was to start in the morning and the next in early afternoon, figuring each would take about 3 hours.
Once again, the Program on Negotiation at Harvard Law School published an interesting article. This time it is about the "rules" that the New York City Police Hostage Negotiators live by to defuse the very stressful crises with which they deal almost daily. What strikes me about the "rules" is that they are quite simple to the point that anyone can understand and use them. They do not take loads of training to implement; just common sense.
In previous blogs, I have discussed the importance of "small talk" as a way to not only get to know people but to build rapport and trust. A key to helping parties settle their dispute is having a relationship with them and that relationship depends on trust. A party is NOT going to pay attention to someone she does not trust. And this includes the mediator!
I had an interesting mediation the other day. I say "interesting" as I am not sure what other adjective to use.
A recent online article by Richard Farrell on discovery.com reviews a study revealing that man's best friend may not always be as happy as we think. In "Bowl Half Empty: Dogs Can Be Pessimists", Mr. Farrell reviews a study that tested the "judgment bias" of dogs. As the study explains, this specific form of cognitive bias, "....refers to how animals interpret ambiguous signals and whether they expect more positive or negative outcomes. " (Study at p.1.).
Once again, the New York Times has published an interesting article in its Sunday Review section on September 5, 2014 entitled "Liking Work Really Matters" by Paul A. O'Keefe. The thesis is that when we really enjoy what we are doing, we can do it for much longer than if we find it to be tedious. Our mental gas tank is nowhere as depleted when we are in the "in the zone" or in "flow": "During a flow state, people are fully absorbed and highly focused; they lose themselves in the activity." (Id.)
Earlier this year, I posted a blog about a U. S. District Court case, Craig Milhouse and Pamela Milhouse v. Travelers Commercial Insurance Company (Case No. SACV-10-01730-CJC (ANx), C.D. Cal.), in which the court held that a "due process" exception applies to mediation confidentiality. Plaintiffs sued defendant for insurance bad faith. During trial, defendant sought to and was allowed to introduce statements made during mediation to defend itself against such claims. The trial court allowed in such evidence, finding that due process required that the defendant be allowed to present its defense.
Once again, The Economist has reported on an interesting study concerning artificial intelligence and psychology. In its August 16, 2014 edition, the authors of "The Computer will see you now" discuss a study in which the participants chatted with an avatar. More specifically, Jonathan Gratch at the Institute for Creative Technologies in Los Angeles, California led researchers in an experiment to determine if people, when asked the tough or potentially embarrassing questions, will be more forthcoming if responding to an avatar. They found the answer to be "yes".