Collaborative Behavior/Martin Rosenfeld, JD

Posted on March 2, 2020


I was in a classroom the other day, and I saw notes on the whiteboard about acting collaboratively. The first sentence read as follows: “Focus on the situation, issue or behavior, not the person.” A negotiation can get bogged down when people let their feelings for the other party dominate their thinking. In a collaborative model, the thoughts you harbor about the other person are virtually of no relevance. Unless you are seeking revenge or punitive behavior, the personhood of the “other” holds no importance. In seeking a resolution of a dispute, the focus needs to be on the situation, issue or behavior. A mediator needs to remind the parties why they are there, in the mediator’s office. They are there for dispute resolution. The time spent should focus on dispute resolution, not exacting punishment or analyzing the negative traits of the other party. The old mediation advice is always helpful: soft on the people and hard on the issues. Collaborative behavior makes sense. It allows each party to leave the dispute with “heads held high”. That beats the hand-to-hane combat effected by litigation. Mediate don’t litigate.