Sep 2011 15

This post is not about divorce mediation.

It’s about being a business person who happens to run a mediation firm (or anything else). If you’re going to run a business, you must first be a business person and business owner and then you’re a __________ (fill in the blank).  If you’re a mediator first, and a business person second, you’re in trouble. And that goes for any kind of business, from sock manufacturer to dog trainer.

Garnett Newcombe’s business is Human Potential Consultants. She competed with me in the Make Mine a Million $ Business contest in 2006 and we were both winners.  Garnett implemented just a few of the resources she had access to through the Make Mine a Million program and grew her revenue exponentially in just a few months. Like $450,000 to $5 million.  I am not kidding. It didn’t require a complete overhaul of her business, just a little coaching and a new phone system. 

Pretty amazing.

Of course, the elbow grease was her own (and her team’s).  Not to mention that she had a good idea to begin with.  But at the end of the day, there aren’t really any get rich quick schemes.  But the M3 program helped Garnett turned her diamond in the rough into the shimmering jewel it is!

Look at the video for her story.

Nell Merlino, the creative force behind Take Our Daughters to Work Day, started Make Mine a Million to help 1 million women owned businesses get to $1 million in revenue. You can participate in the program by signing up for free! Participate on line, or attend one of the in-person events.

Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post

Sep 2011 12

Project Vic:  This is the next in an ongoing series of videos where I blog about my own efforts to walk my talk as a mediator and mend my relationship with my dad. It’s one thing to be a terrific mediator when you’re with strangers dealing with a problem you’re not living with, and quite another to apply those skills when you get home to your family.

 I’m going to update Project Vic, for better or worse, about once a week.  I went to see my dad January 27-30, 2011 and  he even agreed to be a guest blogger!

So stay tuned, and wish me luck!

Not sure why my hand is shaking…except that I’m talking to my 83 year old dad after 6 months of family war. I even had to hire an attorney because he threatened to sue me. Fantastic.  So this is the first time we’re seeing each other after all of that trauma and drama, and I think we’re both relieved that the worst seems to be behind us.

Mediating your own dispute is HARD! What I finally realized, however, is that what he was worried about with my mom’s trust was probably the opposite of what my brother and I were worried about with my mom’s trust.  It wasn’t easy, but I sat down at the kitchen table in his house and I asked him, “What’s your worst fear with all of this?”  And he told me he was afraid he’d need to get at some of the trust money and that he’d need to ask me every single time, like I was giving him permission to get at his own money.

My suspicion was right.  I was not worried at all that he’d over spend or go crazy.  My dad is about as tight as it gets. My brother and I were worried about being disinherited (seriously–it had gotten that bad).  So all of the fighting wasn’t really necessary since we were concerned about 2 different things. Opposite things, in fact.

All it took was a serious conversation. A frank conversation. An honest conversation.  And a difficult conversation, of course.  We’d been going through lawyers for a couple of months and hadn’t managed to talk, so I’m not trying to diminish how hard it was to sit down and talk with him one on one about this. He might be 83 but he can be a pretty intimidating guy and heaven knows he’s stubborn. Must be where I got it….LOL.

Like so many of the 8 Keys to Resolving Conflict it was something which was simple, but not easy.  Like so many things in life. 

Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post

 

 

Sep 2011 08

Author Gary Young talks about writing his new play, On Hold: The Myth of Male Maturity, at the Independent Writers of Southern California gathering (IWOSC).

I find the writing process fascinating. Everyone seems to do it differently, yet the end product is a book, a play, a script….Gary is also the author of Loss And Found: How We Survived the Loss of a Young Spouse.

There are a lot of interesting people who attend the IWOSC meetings.  Dues are inexpensive and there’s always something interesting going on.

Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post

Sep 2011 05

My mom died January 1, 2010. Within about 6 weeks my dad was engaged to be married….to one of her best friends.  Needless to say, this sent a shock wave through our family. If you’ve been following Project Vic on this blog, you’ve seen how difficult it has been for my brother and me to navigate all of this…the loss of our mother, the rocky relationship with our father, and now the question of how the heck someone can get engaged in 6 weeks after being married 55 years.

The good news is that Bea, my father’s fiancee, is lovely.  We’ve started calling her Mom 2.0 and I think she’s embraced our now-blended family pretty well.

She came to the book signing party for Making Divorce Work in Indianapolis in 2011 and was just a delight. The video shares her thoughts about the experience and the party. 

My brother and I would rather have our mom back, but Bea is a great second choice.

Now we just wonder how long it will take her to realize that our dad, Vic, is actually a “project” and to realize exactly what she’s in for if they actually get married.  Hmmmmm….

The truth and reality of life is that families are what you make of them.  We could let all of this ruin our lives, or we can choose to move on.

And move on we have.  My brother is newly married at 53 with a baby on the way. His youngest child just graduated from college. My husband is Jewish and I was raised Presbyterian. Bea’s son is disabled.  Yet we all come together as a family. Sometimes more successfully than others, but we’re still family.

And that’s the mesage I try to convey to our mediation clients.  Parents with a 2 year old hear, “You’ve got to figure this out, because you are going to be co-grandparents.” And I’m not just saying that to convince them to settle or to mediate their differences–it’s true.  It’s a little hard to hear when you have a toddler, I suppose, but once you’ve chosen to marry and have children, you’re just adding additional squares to the patchwork quilt that’s already your family.

 
Diana Mercer is the co-author of Making Divorce Work: 8 Essential Keys to Resolving Conflict and Rebuilding Your Life (Perigee 2010). Join the conversation and community on our video blog and check out Diana’s divorce blog on the Huffington Post

Whatever it Takes (Balloons): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=boq8-dgTIOI
Aug 2011 12

There is a lot of fighting among mediators (nobody can fight like mediators!) as to what is “the” correct way to mediate.

Should you be directive, and tell clients what will probably happen in court anyway, and then muscle them into agreement?

Should you be facilitative, and let them have a free flowing discussion?

Should you be transformative, and guide the participants to a new level of understanding of their situation and role in the process?

Or all three?  How do you mediate for success?

I’ve never really tried to shoehorn Peace Talks or myself into a particular category. My style is that if participants are having a great discussion, it’s my job to get out of the way. If they need a nudge in the right direction, it’s my job to make a suggestion.

The process is designed around them, not just our Peace Talks Mediator Handbook.

I got a surprise, though, when a very nice set of clients came in a couple of months ago. They were amicable; they’d been married a long time and just wanted to be fair with each other.  We see that a lot at Peace Talks:  really nice people having the worst day of their life and just trying to do the right thing.

Where this case became different, though, is when the husband decided he needed to take a break from the proceedings and he laid down on the floor. Not to be derailed, I got him a blanket.

When he woke up (I’m pretty sure he fell asleep) he knew that what he needed to do to keep himself calm was to……blow up balloons and bat them around the room.

That was a first for me. And I thought in 23 years I’d seen it all. Maybe now I’ve seen it all, but who knows?

And I learned something that day, as I batted balloons around with him, my co-mediator (a very patient Stephanie Maloney, CDFA) and even his wife, who was also rolling with the punches.

I learned that:

  • Mediators need to be ready to do whatever it takes to help people settle a case, even if it’s outside their comfort zone
  • Mediators need to embrace participants who know what they need and aren’t too shy to ask for it.  We need to listen and let clients do what they need to do (within reason, of course)
  • Mediators need to loosen up their ideas of “the” right way to do mediation and adapt to the participants’ needs.

Of course, if the balloons and nap had made the wife uncomfortable we may have needed to take different action. But since it didn’t, we needed to step outside our own comfort zone and adapt to what the participants’ needed.

It’s not about us, it’s about them.

And they settled.

And yes,  got their permission to share their story in a confidential way.

Not sure you believe me? Watch the video!

Page 3 of 2012345...1020...Last »