This introductory piece will explore the topic, Our Approach to Conflict. Conflict should not be avoided, but should be engaged with constructively, Paul writes. Conflict is not intrinsically negative, and may be the pre-cursor to both constructive and positive change. The context in which conflict arises, and the way that we deal with [...]
In the last article Paul introduced the concept of early intervention in commercial relationships – using mediation as a business tool rather than as an adjunct to litigation. In Part 2 we will look at some practical examples of this concept at work . Deal mediation A deal mediator may be appointed to [...]
“We are used to thinking about competitions in which there is only one winner… But the world is not really like that… The key to doing well lies not in overcoming others, but in eliciting their cooperation.” (Robert Axelrod) Mediation is often effective if the parties can engage in person and in a private [...]
Well done – to get this far you have identified the opportunity for consensus building, got the key stakeholders on board and identified the main issues. But now your first meeting is about to commence, and you are concerned about how you are going to hold all of this together. Adopting a Consensus [...]
In Part 3, below, we will explore how to avoid potentially offensive emails to ensure an open exchange of ideas and to solve the underlying problem. Read Part 1 here and Part 2 here. Why is it that when we send a carefully crafted settlement letter explaining why we are right and the other side [...]
“We are used to thinking about competitions in which there is only one winner… But the world is not really like that… The key to doing well lies not in overcoming others, but in eliciting their cooperation.” – Robert Axelrod Mediation is often effective if the parties can engage in person and in a [...]
In Part 2 of the series "Better Conversations" we will explore how we react when things go wrong. Read Part 1 here. We live in a blame culture. When things go wrong we protect our identity (our egos) by finding somebody, or something, to blame. This allows us to ignore our own role, [...]
A Consensus Building Approach (CBA) is only as good as its participants. In a majority rules process there are few players and most of them take a passive role. Take our parliamentary process as an example: the Speaker of the House is the in-house rules expert determining whether parliamentarians are working with the [...]
The root cause of many disputes is a lack of communication leading to judgments and assumptions about the motives of others. Failure to communicate effectively is a fundamental barrier to effective negotiation. The parties involved in disputes need to have better conversations with each other. We will explore why and how over the [...]
We’ve all seen them – most of us have used them – the hard bargaining tactics employed during a tough day at the mediation table. But do they work? Do they help us get a better deal for our clients or do they make the negotiation harder than it needs to be? How [...]
Many see mandatory mediation as an oxymoron. Mediation is a consensual process agreed to by the parties that provides them with self-empowerment, so any compulsion to attend mediation will destroy that essential consensual character. Does mandatory mediation encourage participation or simply attendance? Is there any point to mediation unless attendees are active participants? [...]
Before a Consensus Building Approach (CBA) can be put into effect, somebody needs to identify the issue that needs to be resolved, who needs to resolve it, the resources that may be needed and then whether a CBA may be warranted. This convening role is critical. Without a “somebody” to undertake this initial [...]
Timing is critical and will differ for each dispute. Ideally when to mediate should not be fixed by external reference. (Note: mandatory mediation provisions in a contract are not external but parties often forget that they have agreed to that provision by way of contract). While each dispute is different in terms of [...]
Introduction to a different way of facilitating outcomes One of the issues I often raise when presenting on mediation and dispute resolution is that we don’t think outside the square enough about the ways to use mediation or facilitation skills. In New Zealand, the square is the traditional one-day mediation held in the [...]
There are numerous benefits to mediation as an alternative form of dispute resolution. Flexibility, the preservation of relationships, timeliness, cost effectiveness and confidentiality are all key positive attributes of the mediation process. These allow for disputes to be resolved as efficiently and successfully as possible, in a fair an equitable manner. Flexibility is [...]
You cannot script negotiations. Mediation is a dynamic process and even the best negotiators cannot crystal ball how things will turn out. There is uncertainty in the most straightforward negotiation, never mind an attempt to mediate between two bitter rivals. The parties need to be prepared to deal with surprises and should be [...]
"Negotiating is an ancient craft, a delicate mix of art and science, style and substance. It prizes intuition as highly as intellect, good sense as much as hard numbers. It requires emotional detachment and a high aspiration level. It can be a game of power, real as well as imagined. Some people play [...]
Mediation is a confidential and voluntary form of dispute resolution in which a neutral third party (the mediator) facilitates a meeting or series of meetings between conflicting parties. This process involves the collaboration of parties in dispute, uniting together with the shared goal of coming to a mutually agreed resolution. Mediation is a [...]
Your negotiation style is both personal and general. Your personal style is you: how you interact and communicate with people, your personality. Imitation is suicide when you are under pressure during negotiations, so you need to decide on what works for you and how best to develop your personal competencies. There are five [...]
Paul has successfully completed the Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation – Advanced Mediation Workshop: Mediating Complex Disputes. The Advance Mediation Workshop, specifically designed for professionals with prior mediation training and experience, is well suited for those who wish to take their mediation practice to a master level. The learning objectives of the [...]
Barrister and mediator Paul Sills discusses how he changed careers - from Air Force navigator to lawyer - and why having a diverse life experience is an advantage in the law. Ivory towers, pale, male and stale are probably more common associations with lawyers; although these are generalisations, he writes. Paul will deliver a presentation [...]
In the 1970s psychologists who were studying decision-making presented research that showed we tended to make decisions in an illogical way – which was the opposite of common sense and measured judgement. These gaps of logic became known as cognitive biases – patterns of repeated thought and behaviour that drew us to particular [...]
Paul has just returned from presenting at the Australian National Mediation Conference for the second time. Paul spoke on the need for human connection in dispute resolution which was a topic well-received by the conference attendees.
Paul has been appointed to the Mediation Panel of AMINZ. Panel members must be Associates or Fellows of the Institute, must have extensive knowledge and experience in the mediation area and must evidence their continuing professional development.
Paul has released his Negotiation/Mediation Training Programme which is structured around the following topics: Negotiation and Mediation Theory Preparing for Negotiation/Mediation Negotiation Styles and Tricks of the Trade Effective Communication Difficult Conversations and Difficult People The programme is generally taught in 5 one-hour sessions but is able to be customised to suit. Please [...]
Paul is a contributor for Julia Batchelor-Smith’s practical book, “Balancing Work and Life: A Practical Guide for Lawyers”. (LexisNexis, 2014, Paperback, $50. Available to buy online). The book provides pragmatic techniques for succeeding in the legal profession without compromising your personal life.
Having presented a very well-received paper at the 2014 conference, Paul has been accepted again as a presenter for this year’s Australian National Mediation Conference to be held on the Gold Coast from 11-14 September 2016. His paper is entitled “Alternative Dispute Resolution Needs an Alternative.”
Paul presented the paper “Raising Commercial Mediation From the Bottom of the Cliff” at the Resolution Institute (LEADR) Conference on 10 September 2015. A copy of Paul’s paper is available upon request.
Paul has been accepted as a member of the Institute of Directors. He sits as an independent director on a diverse range of companies and is available for further appointments.