Mediation Madness Ii: Dealing with Destructive Emotions

By Bultena, Charles; Ramser, Charles et al. | Southern Journal of Business and Ethics, January 1, 2016 | Go to article overview

Mediation Madness Ii: Dealing with Destructive Emotions


Bultena, Charles, Ramser, Charles, Tilker, Kristopher, Southern Journal of Business and Ethics


I. Introduction

Mediation offers an alternative to the rigors of formal litigation in a courtroom. It has become a successful conflict resolution tool because it provides an opportunity to resolve virtually any issue in "a cost effective and timely manner."1 Moreover, according to Gene Valentini, director of the Texas Dispute Resolution System, one can speak freely in mediation "about anything you feel will get you to a point of resolution because nobody's recording or saying it's out of order, whereas in the courtroom you may not be able to address those things."2 When business leaders prepare for and manage a successful mediation, they will understand the dynamics of the process.

Applying models and recent research from the field of group dynamics, this paper offers insight into how to prepare for and conduct mediation when intense negative or destructive emotions arise. According to Daniel Shapiro, negative emotions disrupt or "hijack" rational thinking, while positive emotions contribute to interpersonal dynamics that enhance effective decision making."3 Thus, negative emotions are potentially destructive and pose a threat to mediation success if they are not appropriately addressed. This article examines negative emotions and their impact on mediation. It offers three tools to help mediators identify and deal with negative emotions in mediation: a Continuum of Emotional Escalation to help mediators arrest exploding emotions; a Life Cycle Model of Destructive Emotions to help mediators identify key negative emotions likely to arise at each stage of mediation; and a Situational Model of Emotional Intelligence to help mediators match mediation style to the emotional readiness of participants. Finally, it puts forward coping strategies for dealing with destructive emotions at each phase of mediation. The extent to which business leaders recognize and respond to negative emotions can determine whether mediation succeeds. Before considering how skills can be developed in this area, it is important to examine the meaning of mediation, its use, and its success in resolving conflict.

II. The meaning of Mediation

Texas statutory law defines mediation this way:

(a) Mediation is the forum in which an impartial person, the mediator, facilitates communication between parties to promote reconciliation, settlement, or understanding among them.

(b) A mediator may not impose his own judgment on the issues or that of the parties.4

Unfortunately, this statutory definition offers little insight into what mediation actually can and should be. When successful, mediation can be characterized as proactive, forward-looking, and problem-solving in nature. As a process, it is enlightening, flexible, confidential, and, typically, evokes less stress than does formal litigation. It is not a drastic action and does not involve the surrender of freedom that arbitration dictates, as the latter requires an impartial third party who breaks a deadlock by issuing a final binding ruling.5 Mediation basically involves negotiation through a disinterested third party, and it effectively can defuse emotional time bombs. One drawback mars this otherwise rosy picture: neither side is bound by anything in mediation. Arbitration binds; mediation intervenes benevolently. If the parties involved remain stubborn, intervention can sour, and mediation then becomes an exercise in futility.

Proactive use of mediation can help businesses keep conflict out of costly litigation and can even help settle conflicts already in litigation. For this to happen, though, business leaders must know what should transpire in mediation and how to prepare for it.

III. The Use Of Mediation

Over the past two decades, the use of mediation has exploded. Business leaders and the courts have discovered its value as a cost-effective alternative to litigation in the traditional adversarial system. The number of mediation cases in Texas, Oklahoma, and Nebraska (the states nearest the region to track statistics) is staggering. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited article

Mediation Madness Ii: Dealing with Destructive Emotions
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this article
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.