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Announcement — Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent™ Rating

As announced on the News-Diary Page of his website, at http://karpmediation.com/News-Diary.html , “Mediator David I. Karp was notified today that, as in prior years, he has earned for 2015 the Martindale-Hubbell® AV Preeminent™ Rating, the highest possible rating for legal ability and ethical standards.”

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David I. Karp is a full time independent mediator of Real Estate and Business Disputes in Southern California.  For more information, please go to http://karpmediation.com .

Facing Personal Challenges, Even Hearing Aids

I see people in distress all the time in mediation.

I see the financial turmoil of course, but also I see the emotional turmoil that arises due to the adversities which have caused, or resulted from, disputants’ conflicts with one another.

Such emotional turmoil includes stress, sometimes embarrassment, anger, remorse, sorrow, irritability, insecurity, fragility, vulnerability, feelings of loss of self worth or loss of control, despair, even depression.

I have always felt that my approach to others’ challenges is empathic, and people have told me that it is.

In many cases, I have commiserated, I have reflected, I have heard and understood. I have “felt their pain” (in a way) and they have seen it and appreciated it … or so I have been informed.

I have tried “to walk in their shoes” and to be reaffirming of each such person’s sense of self and of worth.

I think this has helped people to face and to deal with their difficulties, to approach the resolution of their disputes, to let go of the past, and ultimately to move on.

This week, on a very personal level, I too felt a welling up of such emotions as I have listed above, primarily as a result of coming to terms with a long time partial hearing loss and my recent acceptance that I needed hearing aids, which I have now purchased and wear.

(Parenthetically, even though I am still getting used to them, let me tell you: they are amazing, terrific, very sophisticated, and incredibly helpful, although very expensive….  And they have taken a personal emotional toll on me during this week.)

Thus, I tell you about my new hearing aids in part to face my own challenges, to attempt to get over the self consciousness, and mostly to reaffirm my own feelings of self worth, self confidence, competence, professional ability and the agility to hear, listen, understand and help people.

Also, I write this to say that, having internalized my own feelings and having sorted them out, I feel as if I have been allowed a new perspective which will enable me to relate better, more deeply, even more genuinely and sincerely, and on a much more personal level, with the feelings of those in distress who attend mediation.

For I believe that I do, and I should, bring my personal experiences to bear on the disputes I mediate and that this makes me better at what I do.

Thus I think this: when we can truly and sincerely show that we can relate to the difficulties that parties in conflict face, then we can better help them feel that they are not powerless, that they can face their challenges, that they can overcome their inertia, and that they can solve some or all of their problems … or at least settle some or all of their disputes with others.

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David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes. For further information, please go to http://karpmediation.com .

Bullying – When the Parties Leave the Mediation and Enter the Schoolyard

The inspiration to write about bullying in mediation came from at least two sources recently.

First, this week I saw an ad on TV about the website http://www.stopbullying.gov/ which announces that October is “Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.”

The foregoing website defines bullying this way:

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance…. Kids who bully use their power-such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity-to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.

See, http://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/definition/index.html .

Second, last week Mark B. Baer, a perceptive colleague and a friend, wrote a response to a recent post of mine (http://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2014/10/02/it-is-very-hard-for-people-to-give-ground/ ), suggesting that the following was perhaps one cause of why some disputes do not settle in mediation:

The percentage of people with diagnosable personality disorders such as borderline personality disorder and narcissism and people with high conflict personalities have increased with each generation.

Both the TV ad and Mark Baer’s comment led me back to some of the written materials that I kept from an excellent program I attended in June 2014 on “Negotiations with Difficult People,” presented by another colleague, Tim Corcoran, and by Retired Judge Chris Warner.

(Per them by the way, “Difficult People” includes, among others, Antisocial, Histrionic, Narcissistic and Borderline individuals, as defined by the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, aka “the DSM.” These are the same types of people to which Mark Baer referred in his reply, above.)

Corcoran and Warner also remark in their materials that bullies are among the types of High Conflict Personality People that we may come across in mediation.

I also have some fine written materials from Bill Eddy who is the President of the High Conflict Institute, an attorney, a therapist, a mediator and a lecturer.

All of these materials contain really excellent suggestions on how, as a mediator, to recognize and deal with high conflict people, how to listen and talk to them, how to give them empathy, attention and respect without agreeing or disagreeing with them, how even to attempt to divert their attention from the emotion of it all to the problem solving that mediation needs in order to result in resolution.

That doesn’t mean that the materials guarantee that a case with a bully will settle however.

In fact Retired Judge Warner suggested, during the program that I attended, that, although most cases do settle prior to trial, those that go to trial are often propelled there by the “Difficult People” participating in them on one side or the other, or both.

In any event, one idea in Bill Eddy’s materials caught my eye as I was writing this:

To manage our own reactions as mediators to high conflict personalities (e.g., bullies in this piece), Eddy suggests among other things that we should view them as five-year-olds with insecurity issues.

That’s where the mental picture came to me of the parties leaving the mediation and entering the schoolyard.

On the stopbullying.gov website, one of the suggestions of what to do in response to bullying is to “walk away and stay away.” See, http://www.stopbullying.gov/kids/what-you-can-do/index.html

Often that’s the reaction I have seen in mediation: when one side has perceived that it is being bullied by the other side, the response has been to get up and leave, or not give in (i.e., not agree to the bully’s demands).

Perhaps that is the right response (perhaps not), but often it is the impatient one.

As Bill Eddy suggests, dealing with High Conflict Personalities takes time [lots of time, I think], attention, patience, empathy and respect, to get them to focus on and use their problem solving skills.

The rub is that often the other side cannot be kept patiently waiting for all of that to happen and/or the financial constraints on the mediation won’t allow for it.

In any event, working with a bully is difficult at best and impossible at worst.

Perhaps that is why Mark Baer and Judge Warner acknowledge that a case with a difficult person (such as a bully or other High Conflict Personality) may not settle.

I agree, of course, but remain cautiously hopeful notwithstanding.

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David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. For more information, go to http://karpmediation.com .

News-Diary Page Updated with New Announcement

I updated the News-Diary page of my website (see, http://karpmediation.com/News-Diary.html) to include the following announcement today:

October 9, 2014 — David I. Karp was pleased to learn today that his name will be included in the November publication of “Southern California’s Top Rated Lawyers of 2014,” which will be distributed on or about November 30, 2014, with the Los Angeles Times.  In the 2013 publication, Mr. Karp’s name was included under the specialty heading of “Alternative Dispute Resolution.”

(Of course, I was amused to learn of this inclusion from an email advertisement asking me to purchase a wall plaque denoting this distinction, but news is news after all.)

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David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. For more information, please go to http://karpmediation.com .

When Life’s Routines are Interrupted.

The water was turned off for more than 24 hours where we live due to a significant plumbing problem. For us at home this meant: no real cooking, no dishwasher, no washing machine, no showers, no flushing. Ugh.

The experience made us really appreciate a ready, reliable water supply, something we don’t usually have to think about.

It also made us aware of the difficulty and upset that comes with having life’s ordinary routines interrupted.

We did OK; it was like an earthquake drill at home.

Finally, a great relief washed over us [pun intended] when the water came back on.

I imagine that the relief we felt is not unlike that which comes from the mediated resolution of a dispute.

Although the experiences of no water and a seemingly unending dispute are different, they still share similar effects on people, such as stress, worry, financial drain, lack of concentration and so forth.

In either event, it is extremely wearing on one’s good nature and exceedingly disruptive of one’s personal, family and/or business life during the ordeal.

Fortunately, the relief that comes when it’s over is real.

It was for us.

I think this argues well for mediation where, as with the plumbing problem, the relief from resolution can be palpable.

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David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. For more information about him, please go to http://karpmediation.com .

It Is Very Hard for People to Give Ground.

A long-time litigator remarked to me the other day that he thinks it has become more difficult nowadays to settle cases.

As I was listening to him, I was thinking to myself that, now as before, it is difficult because it is very hard for people to give ground.

(For those unfamiliar with the idiom, to give ground is “to change your opinions or your demands in a discussion or argument so that it becomes easier to make an agreement.” See, http://idioms.thefreedictionary.com/give+ground .)

There is of course the emotional unwillingness to give ground.

By way of example, sometimes people are so invested in seeking justice, retribution, or vindication, that they just would not know what to do with themselves if they gave up the fight.

Or perhaps they feel as if they will lose face or be considered weak if they don’t stand up for themselves.

Or they “absolutely know” they are going to win and there’s no way they’d take less or give more given that “inevitable” outcome. (Never mind that sometimes they are just wrong.)

Or they are just too angry or insulted to see straight.

Then there is the financial unwillingness to give ground.

Ignoring the cost of not settling, people nowadays sometimes still bring the continuing financial consequences of the recent “Great Recession” with them to the table.

That is, with money so scarce for many people and with the economy continuing to lag, some still feel the pinch and are unwilling or unable to give up the chance for that pot of gold at the end of the trial.

Or they are unwilling or unable to agree to pay more to resolve a dispute with money they don’t feel they have.

With these kinds of obstacles to settlement, it is no wonder that the attorney with whom I spoke recently thinks it has become more difficult to settle cases nowadays.

As mediators, we can hope to help with the tools, techniques and experiences we bring to the table.

And with an injection of understanding, common sense and good counsel, perhaps the obstacles to settlement can be overcome or at least mitigated. [See by way of comparison, http://karpmediation.wordpress.com/2014/07/26/all-of-the-ingredients-for-resolution-were-present/ ]

Still, it is ultimately up to the disputants themselves to decide if they can give ground, and if so how much, to settle their cases.

And, yes, I acknowledge and appreciate that  it remains really hard for people to give ground when they are in the throes of litigation, whether and when they settle… or not.

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David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. For further information, please consult his website at http://karpmediation.com .

Repairing the World and Repairing Ourselves

As a mediator, I always find inspiration in this time of year.

We are now in the the Days of Awe (Yamim Noraim), the days between Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year) and Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement).

Traditionally, this is a period of turning inward, engaging in self reflection, figuring out what went wrong and determining how to make things right.

With sufficient self exploration and nerve, our teachings encourage us to apologize to, and to seek forgiveness from, those we have hurt, knowingly or unknowingly, intentionally or unintentionally.

In this way, we can repair relationships. In this way, perhaps we repair the world around us.

A prayer at the beginning of Yom Kippur called Kol Nidre also declares null and void any promises we make for the future that, for whatever reason, we are unable to fulfill notwithstanding our good intentions.

Maybe the prayer looks back in time too, to declare null and void any promises we previously made that were unfulfilled notwithstanding our good intentions at the time.

Thus, in this way, we are also permitted to forgive ourselves, and thus to repair ourselves.

Certainly, for most practitioners, mediation’s goal is to resolve disputes, specifically litigated claims, and to settle cases.

Sometimes there is more to mediation than simply finding a way to end a lawsuit.

There are opportunities in mediation to repair the world and to repair ourselves.

Sometimes in mediation people can go deeper into the underlying emotional turmoil of the dispute to find ways to resolve the larger, the internalized intimate human conflicts that led to the dispute in the first place.

Some believe that the causes of conflict are deep within the people themselves.

Occasionally, when the participants in mediation allow for it, I have seen people think deeply about the circumstances and their feelings which have led to the conflict.

Sometimes, I have seen people apologize and seek (and receive or grant) forgiveness.

This is how they use the opportunity given in mediation to repair the world around them, and to repair themselves.

It takes a special time and place for this to happen, and a willingness to go beyond the dollars and cents of resolution, to reach inward for reconciliation, renewal, and peace.

It is not unlike the thoughtful moments of these days of Awe.

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David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California, with a business website at http://karpmediation.com , who, consistent with the them of this piece, takes this opportunity also to apologize for whatever he has done or not done that has hurt another person and to seek forgiveness from him or her.

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