Virtually everyone in our field knows about the wonderful book, Difficult Conversations: How to Discuss What Matters Most, by Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton, and Sheila Heen. It focuses on everyday conversations and not just crystalized disputes.
Mediation can be hard. Often, the parties start out a great distance apart, work towards narrowing the gap, but occasionally can’t quite straddle the gulf to come to an agreement in a single day. Last week, I gave my final lesson to my students at Pepperdine on sophisticated steps for breaking an impasse. I told them that it was a matter of both skill and faith.
OFOI Tim Hedeen described the following class exercise about the nature of negotiation, which can easily be adapted in many ways. (If you want to give students even more of a run for their money, you might assign students to read the short piece on the definition of negotiation that Andrea Schneider, Noam Ebner, David Matz, and I wrote).