Mediation can provide certainty in an uncertain litigation process. By design, it enables the client to have control (at least over their own decisions), in a judicial process that none of us can fully control. My role, simply put, is to try to help lawyers and their clients make good decisions with the information they have available.
Life would be a lot easier if we made decisions for ourselves that are as wise as the advice we give others. I enjoy reading Eric Barker’s blog, Barking Up The Wrong Tree. Barker recently published a post offering four researched-backed secrets for making good decisions. Here’s a synopsis:
One: You Don’t Need More Information. You Need The Right Information.
Barker points to research indicating that when doctors are diagnosing heart attacks, a glut of information isn’t merely a nuisance; it’s potentially lethal. The solution for doctors? Spend less time amassing information, and more time better defining the problem — so you can get the right information.
Two: Feelings Are Your Friend.
Sure, decisions are best made when you’re calm. But ignoring emotions altogether is counter-productive. Professor Timothy Wilson, author of Redirect: The Surprising New Science of Psychological Change, points to a dating study in which subjects who followed their “gut feeling” about prospective partners were much likelier to predict the success of relationships than subjects Wilson described as the “navel gazers.”
Three: Know Your Strengths.
Barker cites a 2012 study published in Science Daily which suggests that you should trust your gut — but only if you’re an expert: “Participants who possessed expertise within a domain performed, on average just as well [when thinking] intuitively as they [did when thinking] analytically. In addition, experts significantly outperformed novices when making their decisions intuitively, but not when making their decisions analytically.”
Four: Make A “Good Enough” Decision.
It’s been said many times by many people: A good decision made now is better than a perfect decision in two days. Barker continues: “Being able to make decisions with imperfect data is critical.
In short, paralysis in analysis is a bad thing in all situations, and mediations are no exception. Focus on Good Enough, when overthinking a problem could lead to inaction.
So How Does All That Apply To Mediations?
Sure it’s common sense, but when you’re facing a tough decision, don’t forget to ask yourself, “What advice would I give someone else in this situation?” An outside perspective (even when it’s just in your head) can be extremely helpful in making the best decision. And since the quality of your decisions generally determines your success in mediations, sometimes it’s worth asking what you can do differently to make better decisions.