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That Great Sense of Relief

April 24, 2017

After my visit with my cardiologist today, I felt a great sense of relief. I received very high marks, so to speak, for the improvements in my health following last year’s (mild) heart attack.

The improvements came from significant changes in lifestyle, including diet and exercise, among other things.

My own relief today reminded me of that same sense of relief that I perceive litigants feel too when they have settled their disputes in mediation.

Some of the definitions of “relief” that I found on the internet today include these:

• “A feeling of reassurance and relaxation following release from anxiety or distress.” See, https://en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/relief

• “The alleviation of pain, discomfort, or distress.” Id.

• “A feeling of happiness that something unpleasant has not happened or has ended.” See, http://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/relief

• “Removal or lightening of something oppressive, painful, or distressing.” See, https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/relief

Some people even leave the mediation, after settling, saying “I’m glad that’s over,” or “I’m happy it is over,” or words to that effect.

Getting to that point can be stressful and difficult however.

Sometimes, in private caucus, to move the parties toward settlement, I suggest or ask the fretful person with the hard decision to make:

“What would it be like for you not to have to wake up in the middle of the night still worrying about what might happen?”

Or,

“If the dispute were over, what could you do with the time/money/energy you would otherwise spend pursuing the litigation?”

Or, I might ask other questions involving improving the quality of one’s life or lifestyle if the dispute were over.

I do think that there are positive health benefits to be gained from settlement.

As mediators, sometimes we also need to remind people of that great sense of relief they may feel after putting the litigation behind them.

***

David I. Karp is a full time mediator of real estate and business disputes in Southern California. His website is at http://karpmediation.com .

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