We Are Changing the Way the World Negotiates and Solves Differences

Here are the most common and frequently asked questions in the field of Negotiation, Mediation, Conflict Resolutions, etc.

Effective relationship management is an often-overlooked yet critical factor in ensuring that important relationships can create value and deliver optimal benefit to the parties on either end. In a business setting, good relationship management can lead to heightened efficiency, increased profits, and better understanding and negotiations between all involved parties, be they intra-office, customer-supplier, labor-management, alliance partners or vendor relationships. For other entities, such as public sector and non-profit organizations, it often means improved communications, more effective decision-making and negotiating skills, and a higher likelihood of implementing critical initiatives, especially when the consent and/or participation of other parties are involved.

Negotiation is any and every interaction between two or more individuals where one party is trying to persuade or influence another (or others) to do what the first party wants. Examples are myriad in everyday life, and range from a baby crying to its mother for milk to complex corporate joint ventures.

Mediation is the process in which a dispute has the assistance of a neutral third party — a mediator — who attempts to facilitate the dialogue between the disputing parties in order to reach an equitable settlement. Sometimes a mediator also is called on to propose a new solution to a particular dispute, or assess the probability and ramifications of various potential outcomes. Mediators do not act as judges. That is, they do not make decisions for the parties. They facilitate the process by which the parties may resolve their dispute.

Conciliation is often understood as mediation, at least by the international community. Some countries use one term in lieu of the other. However, usually this demarcation of usage is confined to legal terminology; little distinction applies to their usage in the everyday world. Others do draw a distinction between the two terms based on the level of participation that a neutral third party has in the dispute. This distinction, which is more commonly drawn in Latin America and elsewhere than in the United States, basically comes down to a mediator taking a less active role and a conciliator a more active one, in that the latter may make evaluative diagnoses.

Facilitation is similar to both mediation and conciliation in that there is a neutral third party involved in facilitating discussions among a group of people. Facilitation does not necessarily involve a dispute; it may be simply an attempt to improve and organize communication. There is a primary difference, however, between a facilitator and a mediator or conciliator. Essentially, a facilitator adds value by designing and coordinating the process by which a group of people work together on a given task. The task itself may vary, and may be anything from a brainstorming session to conducting a training workshop to facilitating a difficult agreement or monitoring a complex transaction.

Arbitration is the involvement of a neutral third party to the point where he or she actively makes decisions for the disputing parties. Usually, before an arbitrator will do so, there must be agreement that the decisions rendered by the arbitrator will be binding on all parties.

Although we can call on the services of national and international arbitration experts when needed, we do not offer specific training in arbitration. Instead, we offer designated arbitrators training in negotiation skills, including mediation and facilitation. These have proven to be of great value, as developing good relationship management skills is essential for successful interactions between mediators, facilitators, arbitrators and the parties they serve.

We handle each and every matter with the utmost discretion and absolute confidentiality (unless the client authorizes us to disclose specific information). Through the many cases we have been involved with, we have developed a keen awareness and appreciation of the need for complete client confidentiality. We apply this policy across the board, regardless of the nature of the project at hand.

Our effectiveness depends on our neutrality. If we were to take a side, our reputation and ability to transact negotiations would disappear. Past clients will attest to our commitment as neutral facilitators and mediators. We encourage all potential clients to check our references.

In all cases, we are bound not to discuss a matter with outside parties, and for those where we represent one particular party to a dispute, we will not disclose any information to any other parties to the issue unless directed to do so by our client. If at any point a client feels we’ve violated this rule or behaved in a biased manner, they can leave the resolution process.

Never. We have no power to make a binding decision or force an agreement. We do suggest the process and sequence of the case’s agenda, but the client must approve these recommendations. The parties to the process always retain control of it.

Although our professionals include experts in the fields of diplomacy, finance, law, psychiatry and organizational development, our clients know their businesses best. We neither claim nor pretend to be experts in any one field other than in our hallmark: relationship management and negotiation strategy. Our expertise is in providing negotiation skills, strategies and tools, and in managing a relationship process. As such, we combine our skills with a client’s knowledge and goals to generate the best possible results.

If a client is interested in training, we have fixed rates, depending on the type of training offered; the number of days, participants and instructors; and the instructors’ expertise. For those interested in consulting or transactional assistance, the client can choose an hourly, daily or monthly rate, or on a per-project basis, depending on the nature of the project. In these engagements, we tailor our participation to fit the client’s needs, and will prepare a fee at no cost or obligation based on the information a client provides us. In some cases, we can make arrangements for a monthly retainer, including the right to open communication and “hotline” service, and/or an “as needed” service.