- National concern;
- Tough legislative issues;
- Key judicial decisions;
upon which the fate of the country turns. Right? Wrong.
The major buzz in our neighborhood is about a house. Not the House of Representatives nor the White House, but, believe it or not, a tree house.
Built by some loving parents for their 3 and 5 year old daughters, the tree house, I discovered, is tucked away in an alley that’s off . . . another alley. Even Google maps couldn’t locate it. No truck or car (unless it’s a tiny zip car) can drive through it.
The problem is, according to some, the treehouse slightly extends into “public space.” Even though the parents applied for and got every government authorization they were told is required, some “outraged” citizens claim they didn’t get enough approvals from local agencies.
Give me a break. As you can see from the photo this is a lovely tree house.
This saga reminds me of some mediations I’ve handled. One party refuses to settle; there’s still one more item to be addressed. Yes, agreements need to be airtight with as little chance of slippage as possible, and in our mediated agreements, we try to cross every T and dot every I. But some parties never seem to be satisfied. Some can’t take YES for an answer.
Sound familiar? I’m sure you’ve encountered these situations, either in mediation or in other interactions. So, what to do:
Borrowing from Bill Eddy’s work how to deal with High Conflict People (believe me, Washington is full of them), the key in many mediations is getting a “difficult” party to make a proposal. After listening to their litany of concerns, a point comes when they need to be asked:
- “What do you want?”
- “What will it take for you to reach an understanding?”
I have found this approach more effective than chasing our collective tails looking for a reasonable outcome that all can agree on.
I wish it were that simple with the tree house issue. The parties remain deadlocked. And the next step is a public hearing on January 28. Stay tuned.
Beyond Dispute Associates
© Sig Cohen and Beyond Dispute Associates, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Sig Cohen and Beyond Dispute Associates with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.