Sunday, April 17, 2011

Learning a New Perspective at the ABA Conference

The ABA Conference for the Dispute Resolution Section was inspiring this year. The keynote speaker, Temple Grandin, really made a lot of us "verbal/top down thinkers" think about different perspectives. Dr. Grandin, autistic from birth, has made her name in understanding animals, graphs, numbers, science in ways she describes as only "geeks" can do. She references the thinking of people within the autistic spectrum as "visual" and "bottom up" in contrast to verbal thinkers, whom she describes as "top down". It really made me consider different perspectives and why, despite my eloquent and painstaking efforts to explain theory, principles and justifications, sometimes people mediating before me just don't understand. On the other hand, it highlighted my own limitations as, for example, I cannot understand my own son, a computer science major, or my husband, an architect in their detail-driven thinking which sometimes flies in the face of my own overarching analyses.

In the end, I'm again struck by how much can be learned from people from different disciplines about how better to practice our own.

I was also happy to present (for the 3rd year in a row) a presentation on "Ethics for Mediators" with Kim Taylor, JAMS COO John Sherrill, Seyfarth, Shaw and R. Wayne Thorpe, Chair of the Section, as well as honored to present a story which will be a Chapter in Eric Galton's upcoming book, "The Stories Mediator's Tell".