Mediations and Chairs/Martin Rosenfeld

Posted on May 29, 2011

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A recent article by Jeff Thompson on mediate.com discussed a study that compared the results of two types of negotiation. In one the parties sat on hard chairs and in the other they had soft chairs. Softer chairs led to more productive negotiation. But you probably already guessed that conclusion.
The article reminds us of more than the need for cushioned seats. Many things can cause a negotiation to “go South”. Room temperature, seating arrangement, coffee available when needed, etc. All the above can be factors in a more positive result. However, you can put a bonnet on the proverbial farm animal and it will still not look more human. Ultimately negotiations are about good-faith, open dialogue, and a positive atmosphere. If you can get all these without a divorce mediator go for it. I for one will put my smart money on the desire of the parties to go for Win-Win in tandem with the mediator in the room who can make it happen. By all means, choose comfortable chairs to sit on when you negotiate. But the words to remember are not “seat cushion”; they are “Win-Win”.
Mediation works.

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