Monday, February 2, 2009

Lessons on Mediation from Benjamin Franklin

Newsweek published a series of articles on Leadership and I particularly enjoyed Walter Isaacson's, "Benjamin Franklin and the Art of Humility" where he said, "But most important in those tumultuous years, Franklin was sage enough to bring passionate people together, to lead them by listening to them, and to unify them by displaying the humility, or at least the pretense of humility, that is so lacking during eras of hyperpartisanship but remains the essence of liberty and democracy."

I feel as though that is what I do daily in mediating litigated cases: I bring passionate people together, lead them by listening, unify them by displaying humility (in my case rarely a pretense as I always have far less knowledge of the dispute than they do!) and essentially allow them the liberty to resolve the dispute in whichever way is feasible in the service of living and working together in the same community going forward. The outcome is not limited by what the court or jury would do. It is not even limited to the ultimate "truth" or "justice", but merely, in this age of hyperpartisanship, is a free choice among the parties to settle their conflict in whichever way they choose. Brilliant? I think not. Sage? Well, if Benjamin Franklin thought so....