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How Hunger Can Hinder Mediation - Alternative Dispute Resolution News

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Alternative Dispute Resolution News


Posted on: Nov 25, 2014

By Elodie Meuser, The Mediation Option

To feed or not to feed? That is the question. The answer: probably a good idea to feed the participants in your mediation.

In this article, Phyllis Pollack tells us the story of one of her typical (if there is such a thing) days as a mediator. Things did not go as planned, as often happens, and the day drug on longer than anticipated. This led to defense counsel becoming grumpy. Ms. Pollack took that as a sign that counsel’s blood sugar was low. In addition, counsel was likely tired from a long drive and frustrated with the result of the morning’s mediation session. The combination of these factors, and perhaps some others as well, led to disappointing results with the afternoon’s mediation session.

Could the parties have settled in the afternoon had counsel taken the time to eat, relax and have a bit of a break? Maybe. There is no guarantee that the result would have been different, but why not give the process the best chance of success by making sure all the participants are fed, well rested and ready to work?

In my practice, we order lunch and have it delivered for our participants. We have sometimes thought that an agreement was almost certain at 11:00 a.m. and forego ordering, only to wind up at 1:00 p.m. with cranky clients when things went south and the sandwiches were never requested. Lesson learned!

I know other mediators provide nourishment to the participants in their mediations as well. Some might be hesitant to partake, but rumbling stomachs and low blood sugar certainly do nothing to help the mediation process along. In her article, Ms. Pollack refers to an experiment that showed hungry people have a higher sense of entitlement than people who are satiated. That sense of entitlement, held by a hungry person, could be the death knell to a successful mediation.

As Ms. Pollack stated…just something to think about.

This post was written by Elodie Meuser of the Mediation Group LLC. If you would like to submit content or write an article for the ADR Section page, please email Mary Kay Price at mprice@indybar.org.

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