The Business of Emotions: Why emotional intelligence matters in your work and mine


Being “smart” is one of the most commonly used memes in relation to success. We want to look smart, make smart decisions, and be smart about our careers. However, being a mediator has taught me that being ‘smart’ means more than we often realize.

This newsletter builds on broadly acclaimed author Daniel Goleman’s work to remind us that intelligence cannot be separated from the blessings and curses of human emotionality – and that this is a vital insight in the workplace.

In the mid 1990’s psychologist Daniel Goleman caused a stir with his book Emotional Intelligence. Intelligence Quotient (IQ), argued Goleman, is an impoverished way to understand intelligence – no matter how much we value rational faculties, anyone performing them is still human, and being human means having to deal with the messiness of emotions. Accomplishing tangible outcomes with our rational skills – publishing a book, closing a business deal, making a good decision – will automatically put us in contact with emotional boosts or complications, whether our own or those of the people around us. As Sandy Hollis and Debra Clapshaw put it, “Emotional intelligence is the partner of rationality.”

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Dispute Mediation: Mandatory Assignment or Free Choice in Mediator Selection

A mortgage broker, upon learning about the various venues where I mediate asked, “Are you chosen or mandated?” This is an important and brilliant question and I’d like to explain the difference between the two forms of mediator selection and why this is important.

Mandated Dispute Resolution

Many institutions, largely federal government agencies and courts, as well as an increasing number of large corporations, have mandatory dispute resolution systems in place at present.   Two federal statutes, the Administrative Dispute Resolution Act of 1996 and the  Alternative Dispute Resolution Act of 1998, both passed by Congress in the Clinton Administration are largely responsible for the growth of federal sector dispute resolution.   Each agency’s program is a little different.  Some rely on the federal shared neutrals program which provides collateral duty mediators from different federal agencies at no charge.   Other agencies have one or more contracts with dispute resolution companies that run national or regional dispute resolution rosters.  In this case the contractor functions like a roster manager and chooses a neutral dispute resolution provider who is the right fit for the case and available.    So while the complainant generally chooses to participate in mediation in many federal programs a mediator is appointed to their case by the roster manager.    [Read more…]

ADR Overview: Fitting the Forum to the Fuss

Wise elders in many Native American communities were the first dispute resolution professionals!! While these councils have been part of the fabric of their communities for several centuries, dispute resolution is a relatively new industry. As a profession it is in its infancy. Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) is an umbrella term for a variety of different processes, which are designed to handle different kinds of conflicts without going to court. ADR is sometimes referred to as Appropriate Dispute Resolution or “fit the forum to the fuss”. Before reviewing some of the key processes a little historical perspective is in order.

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