Editor’s Commentary

A Window to the Other Side – Part One

Studies show
that different backgrounds (including culture, country of origin, native
language, geographic region, age, and gender) create different
interpretations of language.  Because all individuals have different
backgrounds and different conversational styles, misunderstandings are
likely to arise.1  For example, a minor dispute might arise
between a husband and a wife, but their unique conversational styles
prevent them from resolving the dispute amicably because they are
“talking past one another.”


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“It Could be Worse” and How We Cope With Pain

I recently
heard Michael Eselun, an oncology chaplain, give a speech on a coping
mechanism that  each of us use every single day: “it could be worse.” 
This simple phrase is used in all types of situations.  We may be
stressing out in a particular situation and we tell ourselves, “it could
be worse”  and we calm down and relax a bit.  Parents teach their
children this concept and our society relies on this message to help us
get through our daily lives. “I work two jobs and I still don’t know how
the bill are going to be paid…but at least I’m not hungry and at least
there is a roof over my head.”  “My life may be rough, but at least my
family has not suffered mass catastrophes like the Japan earthquakes or
Hurricane Katrina or the Mississippi floods.”

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Dignity and Respect

Lately, I’ve
been thinking a lot about “old people.”   As part of a younger
generation, this may seem like an odd topic to reflect on, but I
recently read the Pulitzer Prize winning novel “The Good Earth” by Pearl
S. Buck (a fellow West Virginia native).   In it, the main character,
Wang Lung, follows Chinese traditions and morals of filial piety, and he
has a strong sense of duty to his family.   Dutifully, he takes care of
his parent despite various hardships in his own life.


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What’s in Your Cup?

There is
something soothing about sitting down and having a cup of your favorite
beverage.  Nothing soothes the soul like a cup of tea when you are
feeling stressed out; a cup of coffee as you peruse the morning news; a
glass of wine to compliment a home-cooked meal; your favorite ale while
watching your favorite sports team on TV; or a glass of cider or
hot-chocolate to warm you up on a cold winter’s day.  In day to day
life, it is easy to become overwhelmed with our hectic schedules.  It
becomes necessary to sit down, relax, and enjoy a moment of peace with
your favorite drink.   In that silence, there is calm.


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Lets Play the Blame Game

I occasionally
pass the time sitting on the 405 freeway with Kanye West—my secret
indulgence shall you say.  While listening to his latest album on the
way home from a small claims mediation, one of his songs really struck
me.  The song is titled “The Blame Game” from his album “My Beautiful
Dark Twisted Fantasy.”  The chorus is quite insightful and particularly
informative of my experience that day in mediation.


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Negotiations in Turkey

Istanbul is
fascinating.  French poet and politician, Alphonse de Lamartine, said
the following of Istanbul, “If one had but a single glance to give the
world, one should gaze on Istanbul.”  While sailing on the Bosphorus
Straight, the city skyline is filled with the ancient juxtaposed by the
modern.  The modern skyscrapers and yalıs (waterfront mansions) adorn
the skyline—no doubt to accommodate the ever increasing population which
is currently around 13 million.  Ancient wonders like the Hagia Sophia,
the Blue Mosque, and the Galata tower enhance the magnificent view and
remind every visitor and citizen alike that we are indeed standing on
historic grounds.

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A Lesson from Doctor Seuss: “Going Beyond Z”

This week, it is Doctor Seuss’s birthday.  Although I read his books
religiously as a child, I was recently reminded of his genius after
attending a presentation where the speaker highlighted various insights
from the books of Doctor Seuss.  I found one book to be particularly
relevant to the field of ADR. 

I’d like to share an important lesson that Doctor Seuss highlights in
his book “On Beyond Zebra.”  The book begins with a young man learning
the alphabet who proudly boasts about knowing all of the letters.  He
says, “I know them all well…I know everything anyone knows. From
beginning to end. From the start to the close. Because Z is as far as
the alphabet goes.”


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Learning from Riskin’s Model

Mediation is a unique way of resolving a dispute. While Arbitration and Litigation focus on a person authorizing or “handing down” a decision to resolve a conflict, negotiation and mediation are about parties coming together to resolve a dispute. Unlike negotiations, mediation involves a neutral or advocate who assists the parties.

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Creativity and the Right-Brain

Businesses in need of renovation or a “makeover” need creative and empathetic people. Teams will be most successful with people from both styles—each bringing something different to the table … Creating “both-brain partnerships” is an effective way to foster talent and nurture collaboration so long as roles and decision-making are clearly established.


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“Right and Wrong” in Hong Kong

“Welcome to a
crazy world of people packed into a peculiar little island,” it beckons.
  Although new countries are supposed to be exhilarating—total 
immersion into a place so very different—I woke up the next morning
groggy and exhausted as I made my way to the Hong Kong International
Arbitration Centre (HKIAC).  Despite the rainy, humid, hot weather, I
barely notice it as we crawled from one underground building to the
next.  What a brilliant and efficient metro system—air conditioned too!
Somehow an entire underground world exists beneath us—allowing the city
folk to escape the erratic weather emerging inside their final


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My New Year’s Resolution

In these
economically trying times, it is all too easy to lose yourself in
despair.  I am graduating from law school with a Master in Dispute
Resolution at a time with record high unemployment rates.  The future
may be glum.  It is a hard lesson to swallow no matter how often I learn
and relearn it—life is not fair.  When I fall into patterns of negative
thinking, I find myself respecting even more the positive, inspiring,
uplifting people in my life. When individuals use positive emotions to
inspire people, it is called resonance.  When individuals exude
negativity, tension, and stress, it creates dissonance.  In everyday
life, we as individuals have the power to create resonance or
dissonance.  The choice is ours.  This year as my new year’s resolution
for 2011, I am making an effort to exude positivity in school, at work
and in my personal interactions.


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Anchors and Offers

As part of my
duties as an intern at the Centre for Effective Dispute Resolution
(CEDR), I have been able to attend a course on Advanced Negotiations. 
These courses are much like the CLE courses required by the ABA to stay
current on accreditation.  Here, the delegates come from around the
world to get a certificate in advanced negotiations.  Their professions
vary from typical business person, to blossoming mediator, to lawyer. 
Despite their unique backgrounds, one thing remains the same: most are
looking to transition into new areas and believe that negotiation skills
will add value and increased flexibility to their field of expertise.


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