Resolution Strategies | A Monthly E-Newsletter


A visit to the Magic Castle five years ago led me to realize that magicians and mediators share something in common — in order to be effective, both must be skilled at redirecting one’s focus.

Plaintiffs and defendants generally arrive at mediation with a singular — and identical — focus, i.e., to obtain the best possible outcome. Of course, their definitions of “best possible outcome” are usually antithetical to one another, and therein lies the rub.  


On paper, the morning and afternoon mediations were barely distinguishable. Both were personal injury actions with clear liability and both appeared to have settlement values in the same range. Despite their similarities, the afternoon mediation resulted in a settlement, but the morning did not. Engaging in a bit of “post-mediation analysis,” it struck me that the reason the parties had reached a resolution in one but not the other was because counsel for plaintiff in the afternoon mediation had been willing to adjust his negotiating strategy to make defendant’s decision more difficult.  


When I went to sleep on my birthday, it was open; when I woke up the next morning, it was shut. And it remained shut for the next 34 days . . .

There are valuable lessons to be learned about negotiating strategy and tactics by analyzing the negotiations that surrounded the recent government shutdown, especially the exchange of letters between Speaker Pelosi and President Trump concerning the State of the Union address.  

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