Who Would Ever Think Mediation is the Best Way to Solve a Difficult HOA Dispute? Me, That’s Who.

I received a question the other day: “Why would anyone think that holding a meeting within the HOA with the board and owner in dispute present could resolve anything? The board never responds when I come to every meeting and state my dispute!”  This particular question followed another email touting the travails of an owner who was upset that California law pushed it and the board had sent him a letter asking him to attend a mediation when he had already met with the board in an internal “meet and confer”, and his issue was not resolved.

Here’s some of my thoughts on the subject:

In neither of these forums did the person feel they were “heard” or convinced that the board listened to them. They were frustrated and felt no progress had been made on “their issue.”

Most board members and owners are not trained in the skill of facilitating discussion or even “active” listening, or remaining patient when someone seems to be “on the attack”.  These are skills that can be learned, but few take the time.

Mediation with a good mediator is as satisfying as meditating with a master. The result is 90% of the time very gratifying, and 100% of the time gratifying when the parties to the mediation or person meditating put their attention, and heart, into it. Mediation is about trying to find a way to satisfying the interests of all parties, to let people tell their stories, to be heard, and this is something that doesn’t happen in court. It’s about solving the problem, not about “winning” or losing. And what is the common goal when there is a dispute – shouldn’t it be solving the problem so the dispute goes away??

You can read a full article I wrote about the benefits of ADR (which means “Alternative Dispute Resolution”, a means of resolving disputes alternative to litigation) as opposed to “declaring war” on the “peopleclaim” website. The link is:

I have written at least 25 different articles on ADR and was involved in California law advocacy when the ADR statute was signed into law and know that it is nowhere near its full potential as of this day some 10 or so years after the fact. Still, I use the skills I learned and the principle that talking, negotiating, meeting and conferring should be moved to the top of any list before resorting to litigation. That’s why I stopped doing it years ago, litigation that is. I am all about resolution, not desolation.

After you read the article you will better understand why any and every chance to meet and confer – if the parties are fully enrolled in trying to find workable resolution – has a chance of working, and the better the “facilitators” – whether participants or outsiders – the better the opportunity.  I use my mediator training skills and other learned and acquired people skills every single day, even when not conducting a mediation, and it just makes life better.

And fortunately (and timely) I have something else to let you know about. It is Mediation training with Steven Rosenberg. I have taken his full class and I sent my daughter too when she was working with me. Everyone should attend training like this. Here is the information in case you are interested:

March 5-7 & 12-14, 2014 | Steven Rosenberg Marin County
An interactive, 40 hour professional training program utilizing simulations, coaching, lectures and demonstrations.

This training provides the tools and techniques to effectively serve as a mediator. From experience as a mediator and a law professor Steven Rosenberg has developed a dynamic, interesting and entertaining approach to facilitate learning. It covers every step of the mediation process from initial contact to settlement and includes extensive practice sessions with observation and feedback by experienced practitioners. The course also includes an in depth session on marketing. The training has been approved for MCLE Credit and MFT/MFCC Credit.

40 hour training is $1,295.00; 20 hour training is $695; for early sign-up.
For more information call (415)383-5544 or visit: www.rosenbergmediation.com/pg15.cfm
To read comments from prior training participants: http://www.rosenbergmediation.com/pg16.cfm

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