Keeping Your Cool: The Power of Persuasion in Mediation

keeping the coolKeeping Your Cool: The Power of Persuasion in Mediation

by Myer J. Sankary

Employment disputes often degenerate into highly charged, contentious and emotional
conduct by the participants during each step of the litigation process, including discovery,
motions and trial. Settlement negotiations between the parties become unproductive or
impossible, and mediation offers the only hope for resolution of the problem. Claims are
based upon alleged wrongdoings by an employer or other employees resulting in
perceived injury which include emotional distress (sexual harassment), loss of selfconfidence
(wrongful discharge due to discrimination), breach of contract and invasion of
privacy. Both plaintiffs and defendants are offended by the other’s behavior and each side
feels a sense of betrayal. Even attorneys and mediators are not immune from the emotional
aspects of the dispute.

Can professionals who litigate and mediate these cases become more effective helping the
parties reach a settlement in such a highly charged atmosphere? The cultural bias of most
attorneys is the belief that the more adversarial and competitive they are, the more
effective they will be in satisfying their clients’ interests. Social science has found that this
perception is incorrect. Professionals can be more effective advocates for their clients by
skillful application of cooperation and persuasion.

One of the leading social scientists in the field of influence and persuasion is Dr. Robert
Cialdini, Regents Professor of Social Psychology at Arizona State University. Not only
has Dr. Cialdini researched this subject and written extensively in this field as an
academic, but he has also developed a systematic approach to the science of persuasion
based upon six universal principles that he discovered through observing “compliance
professionals” in the market place. Indeed, Dr. Cialdini found a common thread that
makes executives, managers, lawyers, politicians, fundraisers, recruiters, salesmen and
other leaders in their field successful by their powers of persuasion. His findings are
published in his popular book, “Influence, Science and Practice” (Fourth Edition, Allyn &
Bacon) and his scientific approach can be learned and applied through his workshops.

Keeping Your Cool The Power of Persuasion

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