Tuesday, May 30, 2006

“Florida Mediator” Named In Top Five Blog List!

What a nice tribute! The National Institute for Advanced Conflict Resolution has named Florida Mediator among the top five mediation blogs in its Annual Mediation Blog Roundup.

“The advent of blogging as a form of internet communication has begun to revolutionize how information is disseminated on the web. The mediation field has not been immune from this development, and there are a growing number of blogs relating to the mediation field popping up on the internet. In recognition of the efforts of these blog pioneers, we have surveyed the field and our findings are presented below.”

5. Florida Mediator (Written by Perry S. Itkin, Fort Lauderdale, Florida) Although somewhat regional in its scope, our top five list would not have been complete without including this veteran blog. Florida Mediator always contains items of interest to mediators, even those who are not from Florida. Because of its longevity, this blog also has an extensive archive collection. In short, this blog is a good read for a mediator in any geographic area, but a must read for any Florida mediator.

It's an honor to be in such distinguished company!

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Mediators Are High Impact Leaders!

Mediators demonstrate behaviors and employ skills that parallel those of leaders of high performing teams. You’ll see that clearly after reading this article from Linkage, Inc.

Have a nice [and safe] Memorial Day weekend!

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

“What? What Did You Say? What Did You Mean?”

Hear [I mean here] is an easy to read primer on Active Listening from Mind Tools to help you become a better listener. Among the important components of listening, it identifies the different listening modes, different levels of communication and techniques to improve your listening skills.

Reminders are good from time to time, don’t you think?

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

It’s Not Always About The Law!

The law emphasizes rationality, logic and analysis – well, generally speaking. There are, however, positive aspects of the law which incorporate a win-win philosophy, interdisciplinary cooperation and/or a recognition of two needs common to all human beings — to be respected and to be treated fairly [does any of this sound familiar?].

These latter aspects are the focus of this article from The Olympian Online which emphasizes the positive dimensions of the legal system [and you thought there were none – just kidding!].

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Ooops! I Made A Mistake – I’m Not A Perfect Negotiator.

Here’s a very useful article from The Negotiator Magazine on 25 of the most serious errors made by negotiators and some suggestions on how to fix them! It’s a good read for mediators; it helps us spot these errors.

Pay special attention to Error Number 9!

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Speaking Of Communication, Who Is This Guy?!?

This could not wait until next week! This guy [actually his name is Guy Goma] showed up at the British Broadcasting Company [BBC] for an interview for IT job. Watch the live televised interview before reading the rest of this post.

You did it watch it, right?!?

Well, as it turns out there was a mix-up because two guys named Guy showed up for interviews—one was there for an on-air discussion about online music; the other was applying for a job. The receptionist made a mistake. She thought Guy Goma was a different guy [Guy Kewney] who is an expert and was actually scheduled to discuss a trademark lawsuit over Apple Computer’s use of a logo in its online music store – iTunes. Unfortunately for the BBC [and fortunately for us], it interviewed Mr. Goma about the lawsuit, on live TV!

Now, watch it again – look at Mr. Goma’s expression when he realized he was the “wrong guy” and appreciate how smooth he was in continuing with the interview! Notice the interviewer missing his expression and, undaunted, just marching forward! Maybe she had no choice – it was live TV.

All to say, as mediators don’t we always have to check for the shared meaning of words to make sure we’re all on the same page? Well, sure we do! Remember my mantra – nothing is as it seems nor is it otherwise! Huh?!?

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Email Misunderstandings Can Make Us Better Mediators!

Mediation depends on clear communication. How well does the “sender” clearly convey their ideas and their feelings? How well does the “receiver” correctly decode those ideas and feelings? The answers to these questions, and other meaningful observations, are contained in this article from the Christian Science Monitor which covers a scholarly study into the question of whether electronic communications convey ideas clearly. Their conclusions will make us better mediators, I think, and the article is worth reading – short, content rich, and to the point!

Have a nice weekend!

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

MEAC Opinion 2006-001 Now Online!

Here’s a summary of MEAC Opinion 2006-001 which addresses an advertising issue:

If the quotation provided [“Got Conflict . . . Mediate, Divorce through mediation contested or uncontested. Call 555-5555”] is the complete advertisement and the telephone number relates to a person [or company] that does provide mediation services, it does not violate the mediator’s ethical standard for advertising. However, if the advertising mediator is not competent to mediate the cases advertised, or if there were additional text which was false or misleading, the advertisement would violate Florida’s Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, Rule 10.610.

Rule 10.610. Advertising

A mediator shall not engage in marketing practices which contain false or misleading information. A mediator shall ensure that any advertisements of the mediator’s qualifications, services to be rendered, or the mediation process are accurate and honest. A mediator shall not make claims of achieving specific outcomes or promises implying favoritism for the purpose of obtaining business.

What does your advertising look like?

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Pre-Spousal Mediation

Huh?!? Look at this from a different angle – wedding mediation. It’s true! Remember the movie “The Wedding Crashers” which began with a divorce mediation scene? How about a prequel – “The Wedding Planners & Mediation”? Okay, I made up that title and not the idea which, according to this article from Sys-con Media, is another venue for mediators. Among the issues to be mediated are:

  • Disagreements between the future in-laws regarding the wedding process
  • Conflicting traditions
  • Intra-family conflicts
  • The role of each parent in the wedding process
  • Emphasizing common ground between the parties

All to say, could you have used the services of a Wedding Mediator! [More than once?!?]

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Monday, May 15, 2006

Florida Supreme Court Amends Small Claims Rules – Revised Opinion

The Florida Supreme Court revised its opinion In Re: Amendments to the Florida Small Claims Rules, Case No. 05-146 [Fla. 2005]. It declined to adopt proposed revisions to Rule 7.090, Appearance; Defensive Pleadings; Trial Date, regarding mediation to occur at the pretrial conference. The proposed rule would mandate that each party or their counsel have full authority to settle. Of greatest concern to the Court was that it would allow sanctions for failure to comply, including costs, attorneys’ fees, entry of judgment, or dismissal. Among the concerns about this proposal was the impact it would have upon a party who must send counsel to such conferences on short notice without an adequate opportunity to fully prepare for settlement negotiations.

The Court, recognizing the importance of this effort at encouraging a mediated settlement, referred this proposed amendment back to the Small Claims Rules Committee for further consideration.

However, the Court did adopt a new form, Form 7.350 Corporate Authorization To Allow Employee To Represent Corporation At Any Stage Of Lawsuit. Guess what that includes?!? If you guessed mediation, you were right – congratulations!

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mediation And The Estate Of Rosa Parks

According to this article in The Detroit News, relatives of Rosa Parks and her longtime associate agreed to try mediating their dispute over dividing and controlling the civil rights legend’s estate. Just as I had posted last year in a different mediated dispute involving Rosa Parks, it has been suggested that mediation could serve as an opportunity for family members to vent their concerns outside the public domain. Throughout the dispute, everyone has said they want to preserve Parks’ dignity and legacy. This pro bono mediation is scheduled for May 17th.

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

This Is Huge! Florida Supreme Court Adopts Amendments to Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators!

With an effective date of August 1, 2006 in In Re: Petition of the Alternative Dispute Resolution Rules and Policy Committee on Amendments to Florida Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, Case No. SC05-998, [Fla. 2006] the Florida Supreme Court today adopted proposed amendments to Florida’s Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators, which replaces the current mediator certification requirements contained in Rule 10.100 with a new certification requirements “point system,” outlined in an administrative order which is attached to the opinion. This provides applicants with more flexibility in obtaining certification and has the potential to increase the diversity of the mediation profession in Florida!

In addition to the new point system for certification, certain ethical rules have been amended. The revised rules [with the changes in bold] are as follows:

Rule 10.360. Confidentiality (a) Scope. A mediator shall maintain confidentiality of all information revealed during mediation except where disclosure is required or permitted by law or is agreed to by all parties.

Rule 10.370. Advice, Opinions, or Information

(c) Personal or Professional Opinion. A mediator shall not offer a personal or professional opinion intended to coerce the parties, unduly influence the parties, decide the dispute, or direct a resolution of any issue. Consistent with standards of impartiality and preserving party self-determination however, a mediator may point out possible outcomes of the case and discuss the merits of a claim or defense. A mediator shall not offer a personal or professional opinion as to how the court in which the case has been filed will resolve the dispute.

Rule 10.420. Conduct of Mediation

(a) Orientation Session. Upon commencement of the mediation session, a mediator shall describe the mediation process and the role of the mediator, and shall inform the mediation participants that:

(3) communications made during the process are confidential, except where disclosure is required or permitted by law.

It’s well worth your time to read this 48 page opinion!

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

What Does A Hairdresser Have To Do With Co-mediation?

The hairdresser [whose husband was a mediator and whose client was also a mediator] introduced the two. According to this article from the New York Law Journal this female and male co-mediation team in New York brings a gender balanced perspective to family mediation which the couples with whom they work seem to like. You can also learn a bit about the business aspect of co-mediation.

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Humming Is Not A Good Technique!

According to this article in The Connecticut Law Tribune, a matrimonial lawyer was recently reprimanded for humming the “Twilight Zone” theme song during a conference [i.e., heated argument] about a proposed psychological examination for the former wife who questioned the need for such an exam.

We can learn from this lawyer’s experience[s]!

Florida’s Rules for Certified and Court-Appointed Mediators addresses this type of conduct in the following rules:

Rule 10.350. Demeanor

A mediator shall be patient, dignified, and courteous during the mediation process.

Rule 10.410. Balanced Process

A mediator shall conduct mediation sessions in an even-handed, balanced manner. A mediator shall promote mutual respect among the mediation participants throughout the mediation process and encourage the participants to conduct themselves in a collaborative, non-coercive, and non-adversarial manner. [Emphasis added.]

All to say, you would never do such a thing – right?!? Not even in caucus. But . . you knew that!!!

As an aside, I’ve been training and hence not posting; plus, a road construction worker knocked out a main telephone trunk line and our entire geographic quadrant is without telephone service. All to say, service is supposed to be restored sometime next week [sure!] and posting may be difficult over the next several days.

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.

Monday, May 01, 2006

“I Heard You But I Didn’t Listen!”

Admit it [I did]! When we were children and our parents told us not to do something but we did it anyway, weren’t we scolded by our parent[s] with “Didn’t you hear what I told you?” Didn’t we respond with, “I heard you but I didn’t listen!” As mediators we no longer have the “luxury” of hearing without listening [but you knew that, right?!?]. Here’s a quick primer from the Law Library Resource Exchange which reminds us that effective communication depends on learning to listen.

To email me, click Perry S. Itkin.