I wrote this blog sitting in my car, waiting for my youngest son to finish football training. It was just turning dark, and I had Sleeper belting out Sale of the Century on my car radio (via Apple Music, set to shuffle).
I had my Apple keyboard on my lap and my iPad balanced on the steering wheel. A luke-warm coffee awaited my consumption in my Star Wars travel mug.
I say all this because recently I attended a networking lunch where the speaker had twenty minutes to speak about blogging, and he made it a very formulaic process which, if I followed, I would never ever write another blog (stop cheering, nobody is forcing you to read this!).
Anyway, ignoring everything I "learned" at the lunch, I will proceed and discuss the topic of this blog, which is drawn from a question I was asked at the aforementioned networking lunch (see how I am sort of tying all this together…).
The question was “Can a mediator do anything if there is no dispute?” A perfectly good question and one which I answered with an emphatic “Yes”.
This is because I have seen first hand that you can use a mediator even before you have a contract! What? Has the music gone to his head? Nope. Mediation techniques can be used at all different stages within a business relationship. As Sleeper made way to man of the moment Ed Sheeran, I thought of four examples off the top of my head. (I won’t tell you every time the song changes, you can see and watch the full playlist associated with this blog below).
So, the first example. You can use a mediator to help you negotiate a contract in the first place so it is less likely to end in dispute. I’ve seen this happen in the communications industry, where a mobile (cell) phone manufacturer and a communications provider wanted to negotiate the terms of their contract to avoid future disputes. They did this by asking a mediator to chair negotiations and deal with any issues that arose during the negotiations. These were global brands using mediation proactively, not reactively as most parties do.
Examples two and three. Despite not being in dispute, you can use a mediator to help you and your client to identify how to make more of the relationship you’ve already got, and you can even use a mediator to chair difficult meetings - whether at board level or where you need to have a difficult conversation with a supplier or member of staff.
Example four is my favourite. I was once involved in a 20+ party negotiation in relation to how to allocate more than £300m provided to the parties by a public authority. That was a real exercise in expanding the pie, and central to it all was an accountant mediator who quickly got to grips with the finances and the negotiations were completed within three working days.
None of these example were disputes, the use of a mediator stopped the threat of a dispute, ensured difficult conversations were managed properly, helped parties to develop a greater, more long lasting relationship, and last of all, helped parties to decide who got what in a hugely contentious negotiation worth more than the sales of an Adele album..
So, mediation, or the skills of a mediator, they really are the sale of the century.
Whilst writing this blog, which took about an hour, I was fortunate enough to hear the following musical classics, in the order given below):
Sale of the Century by Sleeper
Galway Girl by Ed Sheeran
That’s Not My Name by The Ting Tings
(Song for my) Sugar Spun Sister by The Stone Roses
Speed of Sound by Coldplay (a homage to Apple?)
Friday I’m in Love by The Cure
Teddy Picker by The Arctic Monkeys
Song 2 by Blur
Only Happy When it Rains by Garbage
Mulder & Scully by Catatonia
Killing Moon by Echo & The Bunnymen
Disco 2000 by Pulp
Cigarettes & Alcohol by Oasis
Other Side of the World by KT Tunstall
Oliver’s Army by Elvis Costello & The Attractions
This is How it Feels by The Inspiral Carpets
Cocoon by Catfish & The Bottlemen
Slight Return by the Bluetones
Diamond by Izzy Bizu
The Only One I Know by The Charlatans
Oh yeah by Ash
No music was harmed in the writing of this blog.