The Taming of the Feud Issue 2 | Best Practices for Success: Positive Attitude

Attorney advocates to a mediation can and should play a critical role in getting their clients great results from their mediations. As the mediator and dedicated neutral in the exchange, it is easy for me to identify the very best lawyering during the mediation. However, it has been my experience that some lawyers do not take advantage of all the ways they can positively influence a better outcome for their clients.

One game changer is the vital importance of fully preparing the client to have a positive attitude before the mediation. A majority of clients are satisfied with the solutions, the experience, and their attorneys when the lawyers do one thing first: they ensure their clients completely understand the process, the goal, and the fantastic opportunity offered through mediation.

Sure, in the sessions, all mediators spend some time trying to educate the parties to the process and the fact that the mediator is a true neutral in the activities. However, at that point, the mediator is yet a stranger. Trust and confidence must still be built. The best attorneys fully prepare their clients to accept the process in the best possible light and participate openly and whole-heartedly.

In addition to fully understanding the neutral role of the mediator, all parties ideally attend mediation with open minds and complete, free willingness to share with the neutral all the issues. In problem solving and decision making, full, truthful disclosure has proven to generate more creative solutions from a wider array of options than holding back has done. This is true of any negotiation. An open, positive attitude has also been shown to generate more trust and willingness from the other side than nondisclosure, which is often interpreted as secrecy. In that light, relationships are more likely to be preserved, even strengthened. Setting positive expectations reinforces a positive attitude when the mediation happens.

When the attorneys involved explain how a client’s positive mindset can save time and money as well as lead to a more positive and creative result than court-mandated outcomes ever could, the likelihood of a great outcome becomes well within everyone’s reach. This is especially true when attorneys set client expectations before the mediation, and then maintain them during it with encouragement, explanation of options, legal clarifications, and demonstration of their own positive outlook.

Attitude is a powerful force in decision-making. An open, positive mindset when approaching a particular situation definitely affects the outcome. Clients with a positive attitude are likely to expect the best, be confident when making decisions, and make constructive, collaborative choices. On the other hand, clients with a negative attitude may be more likely to expect the worst and make decisions out of fear or trepidation. Those clients can leave the mediation with an overall feeling of dissatisfaction.

Attorney advocates are fundamental to setting client attitudes in mediation. In life and in mediation, attitude is everything!

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