By D. Elizabeth Cox, Cox & Koons LLP
Alternative Dispute Resolution is about finding ways, outside the courtroom, to resolve legal disputes for people in our community and that’s awesome. However, I think using the tools we learn in the ADR processes to help in other areas of our lives is necessary for preserving our personal and professional health on a daily basis. I don’t know about you, but I’ve noticed increasingly that it is not just the litigants who seem to be doing battle out there. More than once this week, I’ve heard stories about attorneys stepping in to calm down disputes between other otherwise super reasonable attorneys who have gotten in a little too deep. I have seen clients raining down profanity upon opposing parties and attorneys alike. These are not isolated incidents and, in the age of electronic communication where the recipient can insert any “tone” they like when reading emails, it seems that the opportunities to increase rather than decrease tension are expanding faster than anyone can keep up.
Justice Steven David favors the principle “the rule of law always”, and I dig it (and someday I’m going to snag one of those bracelets!). I would add, if I may be so bold, that it is important to add the pursuit of civility to the pursuit of law to our daily practices. In my humble opinion, at the end of the day, without consistently exhibiting civility to each other as practitioners, we cannot possibly expect anyone else to. Without that, all those tools in our ADR toolbox are rather wasted. I will be the first to tell you that I can go from 0 “to infinity and beyond” with the beat of a heart, but I’m going to be working on that. This handy dandy article I found called “Twenty Expert Tactics for Dealing with Difficult People” has tons of helpful hints for helping turn down the volume on high tension interactions. I would change the title to just “people” because, sometimes it isn’t the people who are difficult, just the circumstances.
Like I said, I’m going to be working on myself in this area this year and I’ve found these tactics to be helpful. If you’re looking to turn down the volume in your own lives, I hope you’ll find it helpful too!
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