On January 20-21, RSI put on an advanced two-day training for the mediators in our new Child Protection Mediation Program operating out of Geneva, IL. This training was the culmination of our efforts to put in place a dynamic and collaborative new forum to address child abuse and neglect cases in Illinois’ 16th Judicial Circuit Court. Based on the outcome of the training, I feel confident that our new program will be a huge boon to Kane County, the jurisdiction which the program serves. I also am glad to have taken away some ideas about how to create a better mediator training event, which I get to share with all of you. (more…)
Archive for the ‘Training, Skills & Techniques’ Category
Recently, I attended a panel discussion about ADR and police brutality, which was presented as part of a regular ADR brown bag series sponsored by the Cook County Circuit Court. At a time when police brutality and race relations have been all over the news, this panel discussion was pertinent to me. Not only because of its presence in the news, but also because of its personal significance to me as a member of the African-American community. So I went to the panel, armed with my notebook and pen, ready to take copious notes. My goal: end police brutality with ADR techniques. Spoiler alert: I did not walk away with the key to end police brutality.
“Mediation is especially good for parties with an ongoing relationship.” This is axiomatic when it comes to mediation, right?
This weekend, I had an experience that shed new light on this old idea. I was at a sale of building materials. Although it was advertised as an auction, there were few attendees and so potential buyers simply haggled with the seller’s agent over the price of anything they wanted to purchase. While digging through boxes of tile, I had a front-row seat to the negotiations between the agent and a potential buyer over some marble.
The feints and parries were familiar to anyone who has mediated many cases.
“Well, I don’t know what these would cost,” said the buyer, trying to downplay her expertise and develop sympathy in the agent. But the agent responded, “Don’t try that dumb girl thing on me! I’ve dealt with you before. You are smart and you know what these would cost.”
“Look, I have other buyers who will give me what I am asking,” said the agent, trying to assert a BATNA. But the buyer responded, “Where? I don’t see any other buyers here!”
The agent also tried to make herself seem sympathetic, even powerless, with the plea, “The seller would have my head if I sold them for so little.” But the buyer replied, “You can do whatever you want!”
The potential buyer tried to make a small move look more attractive by changing the format of the offer to a total price, rather than a per piece price. But the agent turned the math back into price per piece.
They went back and forth on numbers with plenty of dramatic gestures and raised voices. Their eventual prices were $240 and $260.
And they both walked away from the deal over a $20 difference!
Why did these two experienced negotiators walk away from the deal? (more…)
On December 3rd, the Kane County Residential Mortgage Foreclosure Mediation Program held a training seminar for program mediators and members of the bar. The event was sponsored by Northern Illinois University College of Law and the Illinois Sixteenth Judicial Circuit Court. Judge Downs opened the training by welcoming attendees and providing her perspective on how the foreclosure crisis has affected the community and the court. She then shared the impact the Foreclosure Mediation Program has had since it launched almost a year ago. Housing counselors, legal aid and lender attorneys also spoke, describing their roles in the program and the experience of the clients they serve. Professor Alan Boudreau from NIU College of Law was the final speaker and provided the perspective of the Mediation Program. Professor Boudreau explained how the program’s service providers interact and how the role of the mediator fits into the larger foreclosure picture. All of the presenters remained on-hand for a panel discussion. (more…)
Just the other day, I learned the term “sunk-cost bias” and immediately thought of the mortgage foreclosure work that I do. The term was new to me, but the concept was not: sunk-cost bias describes why it’s so hard for us to walk away from something and cut our losses (and explains why I spent 3 hours waiting in line for the Indiana Jones ride at Disneyland). With sunk-cost bias, our minds go through a process of telling us that we should hold on because otherwise the time, money and energy already invested would be a waste, even when such a decision is irrational and just sinks us further in the hole. The concept can have very real implications for more serious life choices, like whether or not to remain in a home once in foreclosure. (more…)