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Compromise Symposium Notes

Dedman

I put together a set of notes from which to speak at the symposium today – some I may have used, some not, but here’s the opening with the “provocative” statement that I was supposed to make to kick things off.  The full set of notes is attached as a .pdf lower on the page, after the opening comments.

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The obvious place to start thinking about comments and discussions surrounding a topic like “The Art of Compromise” is with the definition of the word compromise itself. As I began this process, I have to confess I was struck by the wisdom of a comment made by Edward Charles Francis Publius de Bono (a Maltese scholar responsible for the term “lateral thinking”):

 

. . . words are encyclopedias of ignorance because they freeze perceptions at one moment in history and then insist we continue to use these frozen perceptions . . . .”

 

The more I thought about compromise, and our charge to come up with something provocative to say about compromise, the more I realized that there is not a thing called compromise – there are many possible definitions – and I realized that I needed to not worry so much about how my colleagues from history or psychology would define compromise.

 

I needed to worry about how theorists and practitioners from the world of conflict engagement would define and use the term and the fact of compromise.

 

To start, I asked several of my colleagues and friends to do a word association game with me – I said the word “compromise” and I asked them to give me the first word that popped into their heads. Now, I have to admit that the first one really surprised me. I said, “compromise,” and she said, “Butte, Montana.” After thinking about it for a moment, I said, “I have to ask, what does Butte, Montana, have to do with compromise.” “Oh,” she said. “I thought you said “copper mine. Never mind.” I felt like I was back on SNL with Roseanne Roseannadanna.

 

The responses from those who didn’t focus on copper mines were interesting. Here’s a sample: Sharing, Surrender, Failure, Defeat, Not Ideal, Positional, Win-Lose, Split-the-Baby.

 

In short, none of my colleagues had what I would call an overwhelmingly positive immediate reaction to the concept of compromise. Why is this? It’s in the DNA of conflict engagement theory.

 

Practically all of the literature on Dispute Resolution/Conflict Resolution/Conflict Engagement (you should get an idea that a field that can’t even decide what to call itself may not be the best place to go to talk about definitions) stresses the pursuit of INTERESTS, not POSITIONS, and part of the field (Transformative) avoids leading the parties to either compromise or consensus.

 

But the most interesting thing to me is not the negative view of compromise, but the fact that, for the most part, when we talk about compromise, we have it all wrong – what we label compromise is not compromise at all.

 

I’m supposed to start things off quickly with a provocative statement, so, notwithstanding de Bono’s observation, let me just say that my colleagues have got it all wrong – when they talk about compromise, most of the time they are not talking about compromise at all – and just as an example, the 3/5’s “compromise” that Professor Finkleman referenced last night at the keynote had absolutely nothing to do with compromise.

For a full set of notes, click here:  NOTES

23
Oct 2013
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Publication of Sulha

Sulha Cover

Within the next few days Sulha, edited by Zoughbi Zoughbi, the Director of Wi’am (The Palestinian Conflict Resolution Center), will be available for purchase as a hard copy book and as a Kindle book on Amazon.com and all of the Amazon regional versions around the world.  Sulha is a traditional form of dispute resolution, practiced in Palestine and many other places in that part of the world.  The book is a series of interviews and short essays explaining the sulha process, and commenting on its usefulness in a contemporary context.  I approved the final proofs today, and the book should be available in hard copy and Kindle in less than a week from now.  Holistic Solutions, Inc., is the publisher, and all proceeds from the sale of both hard copy and Kindle books go directly to Wi’am’s U.S. 501(C)(3) non-profit foundation.  For more information, contact me through this web site, HSI’s web site (http://holisticsolutionsinc.org) or via my personal e-mail (daniel@danielrainey.us).

17
Oct 2013
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IMPACT Symposium: The Art of Compromise

Dedman

Next Tuesday, October 23, I will participate in a symposium sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Institute, which is part of the Dedman College of Humanities and Sciences at SMU.  The IMPACT symposium is an annual event, bringing together individuals from varied backgrounds to talk about an issue, with each person bringing the perspective of her or his academic discipline.  This year, the topic is compromise.  We have all been asked to make a short opening statement that is in some way “provocative” or controversial, to be followed by a give and take with the audience.  I’m working on my provocation – it should be fun.  The advertisement for the symposium is available at this link:  Compromise.

14
Oct 2013
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CyberEthics Power Point

ACR Logo

Here is a link to the power point slides used in today’s “CyberEthics” session at the

ACR conference:

 CyberEthics

10
Oct 2013
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Conferinta “Legea 115/2012” – Rezolvarea Disputelor Online (ODR – Online Dispute Resolution)

Sansa

[Opportunities for the Future]

While I’m at the Association for Conflict Resolution conference (scheduled to speak about technology and ethics later this morning), I’m also making use of online technology to serve as the featured speaker at an ODR conference in Romania.  The topic, for tomorrow morning my time, tomorrow afternoon Romanian time, will be issues related to B2B and B2C ODR.  I’ll post notes later.

10
Oct 2013
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Fordham ADR Symposium

LincolnCenter

I’m here near the Fordham Law School campus, just across the street from Lincoln Center in NYC.  Tomorrow I’ll be on a panel discussing “ADR Ethics in a Changing World,” with, as usual these days, a focus on the impact of technology on the ethics surrounding third party work.  Here’s a link to my short speaker’s notes for the session:  NOTES – and here’s a link to the Prezi that I plan to use if we have Internet connectivity in the meeting room – PREZI 

04
Oct 2013
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CyberWeek 2013

The following announcement was just released by ADR Hub, the organizers of CyberWeek 2013

ADR Hub logo

Greetings,

Fall is here and Cyberweek 2013 is just a couple weeks away!  Please make sure you save the dates of November 4th to 8th, 2013 and join us online for what promises to be a wonderful week of exploration and discussion regarding online dispute resolution. Registration and information is found at https://cyberweek2013.eventbrite.com/. As always, this conference is free and open to all who are interested in the integration of technology and our dispute resolution practice.

We are finalizing the program as we speak and this year looks to be one of the most dynamic yet with an abundance of webinars and product demos, competitions, live radio shows, simulations, and asynchronous discussion forums. This conference marks Cyberweek’s 16th time we will bring everyone together for this virtual conference, and the activities and topics become more and more compelling each time. We are looking forward to an engaging environment appropriate for all levels of students, practitioners, and scholars.

This year we have 15 live webinars on the schedule. Three webinars with experts and innovators in the field, offering opportunities to engage in live conversations regarding various online dispute resolution topics, will be offered each day. The final webinar will feature leaders from the field of Online Dispute Resolution including Ethan Katsh and Colin Rule to bring together all that took place during Cyberweek and how it can provide a springboard to the ODR Forum in Silicon Valley next June.

Two of the daily webinars will focus on a central topic of the ODR field; and the other will feature a live product demonstration via the webinar platform. You will be able to speak with the developers of the products and get a first-hand look at how they function most effectively.

There will be plenty of insightful and dynamic discussion forums providing an opportunity for asynchronous engagement regarding topics such as:

  • The Feasibility of Using ODR in Cross-Border Family Cases
  • Which Video Conferencing Software Works Best for Online Mediation

·         The Role of Technology in Creating a Safe Internet for Teens

·         ODR Facilitation vs. Face-to-Face Problem Resolution

·         ODR Government initiatives around the globe

Two very popular activities from 2012 will be back again for Cyberweek 2013:

  • ODR  Twitter chat
  • Two Internet radio programs regarding Online Dispute Resolution. One hosted by Pattie Porter with special guest Leah Wing and the other hosted by Dave Hilton with special guest Daniel Rainey.

Further information regarding these events will be found in the Cyberweek 2013 website when the conference launches.

As you can see, there is plenty to look forward to and it promises to be a wonderful week of discussion and exploration. Register soon for Cyberweek, if you have not done so already, at https://cyberweek2013.eventbrite.com/. If you are already registered, please pass this information on to others who may not be aware of this free, educational conference regarding online dispute resolution.

One final note, the platform that the conference is hosted on is www.adrhub.com. This website is a great central resource for all things related to conflict resolution. To engage in the activities you will need to sign up as a member of this site. It is free and simple to do. Please do so prior to the week so you can be ready to go on day one of Cyberweek. If you participated in Cyberweek last year, you are already a member and will just have to simply sign on with your username and password.

We are looking forward to the week and will be updating registered participants to the rest of the programming and schedule as the conference approaches.

28
Sep 2013
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Yet Again

This time, the mass murder committed by someone who should not have had access to weapons is more than a news item for us.  One of the victims was a long time next-door neighbor.  He was an exceptionally nice man, with three young daughters and a wife who are now left to fend with life as best they can in the aftermath of what we all wish were an unimaginable event.  Unfortunately, in the U.S., it’s more common than unimaginable.  For Julia and me, this means that we will be going to a memorial service instead of just reading headlines.  For his family, the events of last Monday were, at a very basic level, life changing.

I was moved to put down some thoughts by a headline in the New York Times this morning:  “Suspect’s Past Fell Just Short of Raising Alarm.”  That past included numerous psychiatric events, and a couple of incidents in which the murderer was charged with “firing a gun in anger.”  Anger, as opposed to joy, one assumes.

The reason this prodded me was what I am sure is to come, and which in fact is already underway on what we in the DC area not so affectionately call “The Hill.”  The immediate question that is getting most play seems to be, “how did he get a clearance to be on a military base?”  This begs the question:  would it have been better in any way if he had killed twelve people at a Starbucks or at the National Rifle Association headquarters?  The real question here is not background checks, although that is what will be pursued quickly by our lawmakers.  The real question, as asked to me by a friend just after the killings, is whether this country will ever rise above its culture of gun violence, or its basic culture of violence.  In a country where we glorify violence from Sunday afternoon football to every imaginable popular culture outlet, what do we expect we are going to get when we turn everyone loose with weapons?

The NRA won’t admit that we have a culture of gun violence or that most of the guns in this country are not owned by hunters.  Congress will not confront the NRA and its lobbyists on any issue tougher than upgraded background checks for Federal employees.  The constitutional lawyers who favor gun rights will continue to debate the framers’ intent and interpretation of rights.  And the vocal ranks of gun lovers will ignore the impact of making guns available, and will continue the time-honored American pastime of scoffing at pointy-headed academics who produce studies indicating that we have a fundamental problem related to the way we depict and discuss issues related to violence.

It would be comforting on some very minor level if the gun champions would admit that the political success of their positions results in people being killed.   But I think the fact that they won’t is just as predictable as the coming of the next mass murder.

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When I posted the above, little did I know how quickly the next mass murder would occur – I happened to be in Chicago when the news of the shooting there broke.  The clock is ticking for the next one . . . . .

18
Sep 2013
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Innovating Justice Forum

For those who might be interested, there is a forum open to discuss issues related to “innovating justice.”  The debate has gotten a bit lively, and can be found at this link:  Justice

My initial post is below, and in context on the Innovating Justice forum site.

Perhaps I’m not catching the drift here, but I don’t understand the strong line between discussions about human interaction and the more “banal” need to plan and implement.  Conflict engagement work is, I think, at base a process of understanding and perhaps – perhaps – intervening in environments where human beings are interacting with each other under stress, anxiety, and often danger.  That happens, albeit quite differently, in developed and developing countries.  What we do, on a very basic level, as individuals with enough ego and passion to intervene in these situations is to help conflicted groups and individuals communicate, manage information, and deal with group dynamics (in the largest sense, politics).  In order to do this well, whether with or without using ICT, conditions and realities in the communities where the conflict occurs has to drive actions.  I say has to, but in the past there has been more than ample evidence that Western (and I mean European as well as American) intervenors have been at best insensitive to local conditions.  Putting ODR in the mix, it seems to me, does not change the basic nature of most conflict environments, and it does not relieve the duty to be sensitive to local conditions (or, often to take the path that most conflict intervenors are not willing to take –  admitting that their approach and usefulness is limited and that they should choose to not engage).  What the use of ODR technology does do is significant:  it alters or creates channels of communication, alters or creates new ways to gather and share information, and helps manage or even redefine “groups.”  As many of us have noted, this holds true for those who wish to subversively and positively redefine power relationships, and for those who wish to perpetuate power relationships that are self-serving and oppressive.  We were talking about all of this long before ODR was an issue at all, we are still talking about it, and to borrow Faulkner’s words, we’ll be talking about it when “the last ding-dong of doom has clanged and faded from the last worthless rock hanging tideless in the last red and dying evening.”  At the same time, if we are going to use ODR in any sense, someone has to do the perhaps banal work of planning, implementing, etc.  As both Sanjana and Colin surely know, questions about which technology to use, who created it, who uses it, who controls it, who has access to it, etc., etc., are not merely questions of practical implementation – they strike at the heart of applicability, safety, sensitivity, willingness to use, and effectiveness, particularly effectiveness as a subversive element.

 

10
Sep 2013
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Have we become a more abusive society?

 Target

Like many students, I worked to put myself through school and in the process held a number of temporary jobs that, for most people in the U.S., are not temporary.  By happenstance, among the part-time and temporary jobs I held none involved being a clerk in a retail establishment, so the observation I’m about to relate comes entirely from the customer point of view.

I was in a Target store the other day.  And to be clear, this is not about Target – that’s just where the interaction occurred.  As I made my way to the front of the check out line I took note of the very pleasant lady who was operating the register.  I would say that she was an “older lady,” but I don’t think she was older than me, so I won’t go there.  When my turn came, she looked at the item I was buying and told me that the store was having a “two for one” sale and if I went back to get another it would be free.  So, I went back, got another of the same item, and came back to the register.  As I made my way back to the register I could tell she was nervous or upset.  She started apologizing profusely, telling me that she made a mistake and that the item I was buying was not, after all, part of the sale.  I thought I had a normal reaction, which was, “Oh, well – no worries, I’ll just take the one.”   I won’t try to recreate her response verbatim, but through a long string of “thank you” and “you’re so nice” I got the message that she was surprised by my reaction.  I asked her if she thought I would be angry and she said, “yes – I thought you would yell at me and call my manager – that’s what they all do.”  As I walked away she was telling the next customer how nice I was.

I don’t know why this incident stuck with me the way it has, but I think it’s a pretty sad commentary on the state of our “civilized” society that people who are doing their best to get by have come to expect abuse for making inconsequential innocent mistakes.

In the conflict engagement classes I teach it is common for there to be a high percentage of people who want to work internationally and who have a commendable desire to alleviate the stress and suffering of those in what we commonly identify as conflict zones.  My experience at Target suggests that for those who find the pursuit of world peace daunting, there are ample opportunities to observe and alleviate stress and conflict pretty close to home.

25
Aug 2013
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