Be the person your dog thinks you are
There is no better advice. I hope you have enjoyed seeing the world a little from the perspective of our canine friends. My thanks to my models in the photos, Fred and Ginger.
As humans we susceptible to feeling judged all the time. In conflict, parties can feel judged by the other side, by their lawyers, the mediator and even, themselves. Dogs know that judging others is a losing proposition.
Dogs do not judge us. For many humans this is one of their best qualities, their non-judgmental gaze. Dogs are not thinking that you could have handled that situation better or been more diplomatic in your response. Dogs are not considering that they would have managed things better if given the chance.
As we work with people in conflict, we need to remember as participants, mediators and lawyers that judgment may feel satisfying but achieves nothing. People who feel judged are not more likely to be negotiable, or reasonable. We are apt to feel more defensive and less conciliatory if we feel that we are being judged.
Dogs know this.
When a dog looks at you, the dog is not thinking what kind of person you are. The dog is not judging you.
This month my article on the Singapore Convention on Mediation is published in the Australian Dispute Resolution Journal. The article is based on my conference paper from NMC2019. Does the Singapore Convention provide mediators with an opportunity to reclaim international commercial disputes? If so what do mediators need to do to challenge the hegemony of arbitration? I argue we need to pay attention to the challenges and difficulties of arbitration and consider how mediation can respond to these? Importantly we need to ensure that we hold fast to the values and philosophical underpinnings of mediation which make it a totally different process to arbitration. In chasing new markets and customers, we need to ensure our ethics remain strong.
What do dogs know about negotiation? I would argue that dogs understand a lot about negotiation. On a daily basis, I enjoy watching my dogs negotiate with me to achieve their goals. They are stealth negotiators, clothed in fur. On an instinctual basis, dogs can teach humans some great lessons about negotiation.
The question is - are we clever enough to learn from them?
Last week I shared with you an article written about canine assisted mediation written by David Paul. Today, I am sharing a link to a news article where his theory has become his reality.
David Paul and his dog, Charlie Paul have started working as a canine and human mediation team for family mediations. David and Charlie are pioneers.
In the last few years I have seen the expression of pain experienced by parties in family mediation increase. I have also seen some parties struggle with their ability to self-regulate during the mediation process. Sadly, I have seen parties derail the negotiation due to their inability to manage their pain. The negotiation may go away but the reality of separation does not. The derailment leads to a more protracted and even more difficult path.
I am excited to see what David and Charlie discover as they start this important work. I would love to have my dogs with me in the room providing some furry balance to everyone. As David notes, this needs to be done cautiously and professionally. Dogs need to be trained and mediators need to be trained. Hopefully in future, I will be able to experience co-mediation with a dog as my co-mediator.