Going To Mediation as
by Roberta Hill
Let me begin by putting my
experience and perspective into context. I am a great
supporter of all forms of alternative dispute resolution.
I have worked in the field of organizational conflict
resolution since 1982 and taught courses on the subject
matter. I have been on the Board of Directors of the Dispute
Resolution Centre for Ottawa-Carleton / Le Centre pour la
Résolution de Disputes dOttawa-Carleton since 1995. My belief in the
mediation process has motivated me to take additional
training so that I could bring a formal mediation process
into my practice of management consulting.
So, what did I do
when I was threatened with litigation last year?
Basically, I said "When hell freezes over" and
got myself a good expensive lawyer. (Might is right.) Why
fight mediation after being such a strong advocate?
- I have done nothing
wrong. It is a matter of principle.
- Sure I am angry and
feel betrayed, but my motives are not revenge. It
is about justice.
- I would rather give
the money to my lawyer than the plaintiff.
- How dare this person
do this to me? Im going to drag this thing
out for as long as it takes.
In two days, I
will be going to the mandatory mediation that I finally
requested. Over the past year, I have come full circle
and I would like to share my discoveries with you.
It is irrelevant
who is right or wrong. Life is not fair. Stephen Covey
says that when we blame and accuse others, we only hurt
ourselves. By accepting personal responsibility, we
dont let others drive our decisions. We make
choices according to our values, purposes and ideals.
You think at the
beginning that it is about money. It is and it
isnt. If it were really about money, you would do
whatever it takes to settle through mediation before you
spend even more of your own money. The truth is that you
do want some sort of revenge, even if you call it
justice. And that is OK., but it isnt going to help
solve the situation. I am still very angry and I have
been working through my feelings about the lawsuit.
Still, it is easy for me to get upset and obsessed with
the case. Then I try to remember what my business
partner, Ginger always says: "The best revenge is
living a good life".
So, you think that
it will cost you the same whether you give it to the
plaintiff or your lawyer? Wrong! Oh you will give the
money to your lawyer and then some. According to a
provincial review of the courts by the Ontario Civil
Justice Reform project, average legal fees will cost
$38,000. Even if you win and the other party is required
to pay the maximum of 50% of your court fees, it will
cost you close to $20,000.
situation by prolonging and delaying the process only has
a negative effect on your own personal life. No matter
how much you think you can handle it, it takes its toll;
professionally, personally, emotionally, and spiritually.
"Its not what people do to us that hurts us.
In the most fundamental sense it is our chosen response
to what they do to us that hurts us." (Stephen R.
Covey) I just didnt want to continue to maintain
this negative "relationship" in my life.
I got my
"deal" and by the end of next week it will be
finished. I have to finalize getting a loan and certified cheque. Once the Minutes of Settlement is completed and
the Consent of Dismissal filed it will be all over. The
process was as I had expected it to be. The co-mediators
were competent and focused. They were on the mark but
occasionally strayed off as they ensured that all the
information and feelings were "put on the
table". We only had a couple of tense moments that
were easily facilitated by the mediators. I was surprised
that I did gain a greater insight into the
plaintiffs position, but I must confess I still do
not agree with that position.
It was a satisfactory
experience and I am very happy with the outcome. I
dont feel angry anymore. Sure, I have to pay some
money but, in the long run it will probably be less than
if I had fought it out. More importantly, the emotional
strain is over.
Mediation is not only the
right way to go, it is the only way to go. Probably, I
should have been more open to the process at the
beginning. The truth is I wasnt ready for
mediation. Even if the process has ended up costing me
more because of my refusal, I had to reach the place
where I was desperate to reach an agreement. Then I knew
that mediation was the only way that I could be sure to
find a mutual solution.