Many years ago, in a mediation between two disputing Chinese American gentlemen, one of them made a settlement offer to the other in an amount based upon a number with mystical meaning in their culture.
If I remember correctly, it was based a number that was lucky or propitious, maybe the number 8 which is a lucky number in China, at least according to this website: http://mysticalnumbers.com/number-8 .
(Maybe the offer was $80,000 or something like that.)
The number did not settle the case but it did get the parties off to a good start and they negotiated successfully to conclusion.
Much more recently, I inspired a settlement in a similar fashion by talking about the number 18, which has meaning in the Jewish tradition.
In Hebrew, letters are used to express numbers. The letters that add up to 18 spell out “Chai,” the word for “life” in Hebrew (as in “L’Chaim” [To life!]).
When I make donations for instance, I often make out my check for $18.00 [“Chai”] or $36.00 [“Double-Chai”] or some other multiple of $18.00. In that way, not only am I giving a monetary amount that feels right under the circumstances, I am sending a message that suggests life or good luck as well. See, http://judaism.about.com/od/judaismbasics/g/chai.htm
The parties in this mediation had not yet reached agreement on a number, but they were continuing to get closer. After the initial sparring, the defendant came up to around $6,000.00 +/- to settle the case; the plaintiff wanted around $32,000 +/- . In subsequent moves, the defendant moved up some more and the plaintiff moved down. Whatever they did, the midpoint remained at just under $20,000.00.
As a creative suggestion ultimately to bring the parties together when they got stuck, I talked with the defendant about the number 18 and “Chai.” I remarked that the Plaintiff and his attorney (both of whom happened to be Jewish) would recognize the gesture if the defendant offered $18,000.00 to close the deal.
The defendant made the offer, the plaintiff recognized the significance of the number and smiled, and the case settled at or near $18,000.00.
As mediators, we use whatever we can from our own backgrounds and experiences to inspire the settlements the parties ultimately want.
David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .