Finding Center Among Chaos–an Integrative Law BFOQ

My colleague Jennifer Tull, a collaborative lawyer from Austin, Texas, is blogging about how to keep your center and sense of purpose while working with clients going through major life transitions.  She writes beautifully and epitomizes the journey toward wholeness that is the hallmark of integrative law.    Here is her first post (we’ll be offering others from time to time):

Roller Coaster of Joy
Finding center among chaos

When I was a kid we would sometimes go to AstroWorld, a now-defunct theme park in Houston. Some of my friends were partial to the Alpine Sleigh Ride (which I did enjoy on some of those southeast Texas days where the temperature and the humidity are both somewhere around 10,000). Others went straight for the Bamboo Shoot, especially if there was someone in the crowd who didn’t know that the person who sits in front always gets soaked.

I was willing to go along with these wimps for a while, but before long I was impatient to climb aboard the Texas Rattler, and later, Greased Lightnin’ – once called the greatest roller coaster in the world. I loved everything about roller coasters – the dread that came with the click, click, click of the chain hill as you go up the first rise; that moment of liminal space when you’re not going up anymore but you haven’t yet started going down; the thrill of going 70 miles an hour down a 60 degree slope into a banking turn that becomes a full loop before you can catch your breath … and then it’s over, as you stumble in exhilaration to the back of the line to do it all over again.rollercoaster

I haven’t had the opportunity to ride a roller coaster in a decade or so, but it seems like lately I’m surrounded by people who are on emotional roller coasters: Clients who think they’re on the path to reconciliation only to learn of an ongoing affair; dear friends whose children are having life-threatening physical and mental health issues; colleagues being betrayed by trusted co-workers. It’s difficult to watch as their emotions careen from dark despair, through some double loops, to elation, then plummet to depths that seem to have no stopping point – all based on snippets of information that trickle into their world about things over which they have absolutely no control.

I was unprepared for life’s roller coaster with my own child, and because I never, ever want to be there again, I mined that event for everything I thought The Universe might be trying to teach me.

I learned that experiencing both highs and lows are equally important, and neither is reality. Reality is the platform from which you embark on your journey and to which you return when all the drama has ended – your place of spiritual poise or stasis. It’s where you live when things are not in crisis, and it informs how you perceive, interact with, and move through the world – in short, it defines your experience. I guess this place of repose is what some people would call your personality or prevailing world view. I like to think of it as my operating system – the thing that keeps everything running and from which all other programs are sourced.

I learned that if I start my roller coaster ride from a platform of chaos and fear, the ride will only make it worse. If I start the ride from a place of arrogance and perceived control, I just have that much farther to fall, and the process of falling might destroy me. But if I start my journey from a place of acceptance – the knowledge that the lows are temporary and so are the highs – I can have a completely different experience. Lows become rich times to absorb and appreciate all of the love and support I have from those around me; highs are opportunities for gratitude and giving back to others who are not as fortunate as I in that moment.

integrative brain wiring

Choosing your operating system

I learned that you can select the operating system you use. There are lots of fine operating systems to choose from, but if you don’t consciously choose, you will be stuck with the operating system that was installed at the factory, and that one is based on the limited amount of information available to you while you were becoming the person you are today. Much of that data is probably outdated, at best, and will leave you ill-equipped to take the next roller coaster ride that’s waiting for you right around the corner.

My roller coaster rides have caused me to upgrade my operating system, and I have settled on Joy. Joy combines all of the best features of Gratitude and Playfulness and is still agile enough to afford me a full range of emotions. Joy recognizes that there is no jumping for joyupper limit to how great things can be, while keeping me grounded and present. Joy allows me to be the one who yells, “BRING IT ON!” when faced with a challenge, and “WAHOO!” when an opportunity presents itself. Joy promises, when I get good enough at it, to allow me to be a solid, sturdy, centered me no matter what is going on in my world – and that’s so much better than AstroWorld it makes me laugh.

(Copyright © 2014 The Law Offices of Jennifer Tull, All rights reserved. Published here by permission.)

 

Copyright © |2014 *The Law Offices of Jennifer Tull, All rights reserved.

Money, Law and Values in Conflict Resolution: An Integrative Law Workshop with Pauline Tesler

Under the surface of our work facilitating client centered interest-based settlements, money and the law can exert powerful forces pulling both clients and professionals away from considering values-based integrative  solutions.

This workshop clarifies the place of values in our work, and explores ways of enhancing understanding of money and the law and lessening their hidden pull away from values-based practice.integrative law

      Values: we will look at the degree to which we make values an explicit foundation for our integrative legal conflict resolution work, and work with techniques for values clarification at the start of the case.

      The Law: we will look at the tension between values-based conflict resolution and legal-integrative lawtemplate dispute resolution, and explore perspectives on the lawyer’s obligation to educate about legal rights and entitlements. We will learn techniques for satisfying the responsibility to educate about the law that support rather than undermine client centered process.

      Money: We will work to develop increased fluency in the “language of money”: money as proxy, money as safety net, money as drug, money as power, money as shared resource.  We will experiment with surfacing unexamined beliefs and values about money, and with asking direct questions about the meaning of money. And integrative law  we will look at neuro-economic perspectives that call into question assumptions we might bring to the table about the place of reason in negotiations concerning money issues.

Bad Relationships Can Kill You…

A study released recently found that stressful relationships directly correlate with high blood pressure in women.doctor-suprised-high-blood-pressure

“What we observed was as the amount of negativity in relationships increased, risk of hypertension [in women] also increased,” reports  Rodlescia Sneed, co-author of the study.  She and  Sheldon Cohen, the Robert E. Doherty University Professor of Psychology at Carnegie-Mellon University,  looked at data from  1,502 healthy adults over 50 contained in a longitudinal study of more than 26,000 Americans known as the  Health and Retirement Study. That study tracks participants’ health information every two years, including  blood pressure and other physical markers as well as psycho-social health.

Sneed and Cohen found that negative social interactions,  including excessive demands, criticism, disappointment, and disagreeable exchanges, correlated with a 38 percent increase in developing high blood pressure in women. Younger women, aged 51 to 64, were  more affected by negative interactions than were older women.

man angry at woman in suitA particularly interesting wrinkle in their findings is the gender difference the data reveals.   Only women showed a link between bad relationships and high blood pressure.  “There is a lot of evidence that women pay more attention than men do and care more about their relationships than men do and it can be particularly devastating,” says Sneed.

Previous research has shown women in a bad marriage are at more risk of heart disease,stroke and diabetes. What’s new about this study is that it looked at all  negative social interactions, not only those between spouses.  These findings are significant for women’s long-term health:  tolerating bad relationships appears to  impact not only mental health but also longevity.  woman shouting with megaphone

 

Emotion Rules: Triune Brain Theory, Neuroscience, and Collaborative Practice

Integrative Law Institute director Pauline Tesler will be presenting a Keynote Workshop  on triune brain theory and collaborative dispute resolution practice at the annual collaborative conference co-sponsored by The Collaborative Law Institute of Texas and the State Bar of Texas Collaborative Law Section.

This is an abbreviated version of ILI’s  popular  day-long introductory workshop, “Law and the Human Brain: Neuro-Literacy 101 for Lawyers, Mediators, and Judicial Officers.”

Join Pauline in Dallas on March 20  for an intensive three-hour introduction to neuro-literacy.  The rest of the two-day program also offers other presentations of interest to integrative lawyers.coolbrain1

The Integrative Law Institute basic workshop: NeuroLiteracy 101 for Lawyers, Mediators, and Judicial Officers

Your brain, your client's brain: a brave new world

Your brain, your client’s brain: a brave new world

The Negotiation Committee of the Dispute Resolution Section of the New York State Bar Association Presents:

NeuroLiteracy 101 for Lawyers, Mediators, and Judicial Officers

February 18, 2014
 | 9:00 AM – 5:00 PM

Dorsey & Whitney LLP
51 West 52nd Street | 9th Floor
New York, NY 10019

Research discoveries over the past decade have dramatically changed understandings about how our human brains actually work. These discoveries potentially impact almost everything that lawyers do when we work with clients. 

  • What if nearly everything you learned about working with clients is based on demonstrably false 18th Century ideas about how the human brain experiences conflict and makes decisions and choices?
  • What if emotion, not reason, drives the train?
  • What if the upholstery on your conference room chairs matters as much as the force of your arguments in settling cases?
  • What if providing cold drinks vs. hot drinks changes trust levels for you, your client, and everyone else in the room?
  • What if providing more information makes it less likely that your client will make reasoned choices and decisions?
  • What if beginning with shared values yields not only stronger contracts, but stronger working relationships that reduce the risk of litigation down the road? 

REGISTER NOW for a workshop by Pauline Tesler, Esq., on this rapidly evolving area of neuroscience.  

Pauline, known for having written the definitive book about Collaborative Law and for her ability to clearly present and explain the subject, is now referred to as the “Godmother of Collaborative Law” after having also been a principal organizer of the well-established and highly respected International Academy of Collaborative Professionals. Most recently,  Pauline has launched the Integrative Law Institute,  dedicated to answering some of the questions posed above. Now teaching lawyers and others practical take-always based on these game-changing discoveries in the fields of brain science, neuroeconomics, positive psychology, body/ mind awareness science, and more, she is poised to play an equally important role in our understanding and utilization of this new learning.Do

Program details | For more info contact Beth Gould at bgould@nysba.org

This program qualifies for 7 MCLE Credits (5.5 in Skills and 1.5 in Ethics) This program is transitional and qualifies for newly admitted attorneys.

The Integrative Law Institute at Commonweal

The Integrative Law Institute at Commonweal

 


Men and Women: Our Brains Really Are Wired Differently

Men from Mars, Women from Venus?

Men from Mars, Women from Venus?

Does it make you uncomfortable to think that there really are biological differences in the brains of men and women?  Not me; I’ve seen those differences play out over a lifetime in precisely the ways suggested by a new study  published in the prestigious Proceedings of the National Academy of Science.        Researchers at the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania have discovered many more neural connections running from the front of the brain to the back within each hemisphere in males, while in females there are far more connections running left and right across the two hemispheres.

According to lead investigator Ragini Verma, Ph.D.,   the wiring in men supports greater connectivity between sense perceptions and coordinated actions.  In contrast, female wiring patterns facilitate greater connectivity  between analytical and intuitive capabilities. “These maps show us a stark difference–and complementarity–in the architecture of the human brain that helps provide a potential neural basis as to why men excel at certain tasks, and women at others,” the researchers concluded.

For instance, they report that  on average, men tend to be better at learning and performing a single task at hand, like cycling or navigating directions, whereas women tend to display superior memory and social cognition skills, making them on average better equipped for multitasking and creating solutions that work for a group.Male and Female Brain Wiring

Why do studies like this matter?  Sure, sex discrimination in the workplace remains real and limits income and upward mobility for too many talented women. But don’t we now see enough women of power and accomplishment in business, industry, education, the professions, and government that we may be ready to celebrate and make good use of our differences rather than insisting on biological sameness as necessary  foundation for sexual equality?

Might these differences also have implications for the work of conflict resolution professionals?  I’m not suggesting sexual stereotyping, but  we’ve now got hard science to support our intuitions about  how  clients process information.  Since these  gender-based brain differences are real, I’m suggesting that awareness of the differences might be a tool that could help us quickly figure out what’s going on during negotiations and how we might help.

Consider that the  “homework assignments” we give clients to prepare for negotiating sessions can serve more than one purpose.  There is specific information we need them to gather that is an essential foundation for bargaining toward settlement.  At the same time, we may be able to help emotionally overloaded clients to calm down and feel more competent if we make sure that the  homework we give them includes tasks that play to their strong suit, whether it’s drilling down on a specific problem and solution, or whether it’s intuitively imagining what the human needs and challenges might be in connection with various options for resolution.

What do you think?  Are these biological differences in the architecture of male and female human brains a useful perspective for illuminating how our emotionally-distressed clients–or even our professional colleagues– may be approaching problem solving?

 

 

Why Integrative Law Matters for Divorcing Couples: A Conversation With A Psychotherapist

 

coolbrain1

Kate Scharff,a  Washington D.C. psychotherapist, wrote this comment after reading a recent article of mine about Neuro-Literacy for Lawyers, published  in Family Lawyer Magazine:

Kate Scharff on August 6, 2013 at 2:54 pm said:

Pauline: I’m a mental health professional trained in Object Relations Theory (ORT), an outgrowth of classic analytic thinking. ORT holds with the common-sense notion that we are born with the inherent need to be in relationships, and that our early relational patterns form templates for later modes of relating– the more trauma contained in these patterns, the more rigidly predictive they become. Treatment is based on the idea that (within the context of a safe therapeutic container, and by using the relationship to the therapist as both a laboratory and a change agent), these templates can be modified.

So I’m used to thinking about how patterns are laid down in the psyche– but the brain science is mainly new to me. Your article is incredibly helpful in underscoring the neurobiological underpinnings for our experience of powerfully affective moments in a Collaborative case in which the trauma of the moment becomes a re-traumatization– not only for the client in question, but for others in the room whose own internal relational worlds are (unconsciously) activated.

Your work is important for many reasons, not the least of which is that it offers empirical support for the crucial notion that while moments in which our clients are emotionally flooded may not be moments in which they can think rationally,  they are the moments with transformative potential.

And speaking of the internal worlds of the professionals: not a revolutionary thought, but I do see the traditional adversarial construct as an elaborative intellectual defense against the threat of reactivation of our own trauma posed by the upsetting content of our work.

Thank you for the ways you continue to push us the edge of our capacities to integrate new ideas, expand our paradigms, and up our games. I’m generally not a fan of the word “inspirational,” but I can’t think of a better one.

Kate Scharff

I replied today:

Kate, I deeply appreciate this thoughtful and thought-provoking response to my article. Professionals working on trust-based, carefully guided collaborative teams know from experience that potentialities for transformative resolution can emerge at the negotiating table and that we can help clients profoundly if we learn to see and work in new ways with what’s in front of us.

Some longtime collaborative colleagues have mistakenly thought that my commitment to teaching “neuro-literacy” means I’ve left collaborative practice behind. Far from it. The language of the paradigm shift that was able to shock us out of habit-based divorce practice twenty years ago has become somewhat rote in our community, another box to be ticked in the list of what to discuss in a basic training, or a handy phrase for labeling difficulties we may be experiencing with other collaborative professionals.

For me, getting excellent at our work has always been about “aha” moments, about deeply understanding as much as possible about ourselves as the gorillas in the conflict resolution room, rather than about checklists and protocols (which are necessary but not nearly sufficient).

An 800 pound gorilla in the room

An 800 pound gorilla in the room

The Integrative Law Institute is my vehicle for learning and teaching more about this in a way that is fresh, challenging, and intellectually exciting. Starting with the hard science takes knowledge of decision science, positive psychology, neuro-economics, and the many other vectors of integrative law out of the realm of the optional. It’s proving to be quite an effective way to reach traditional adversarial lawyers who too often dismiss other ways of teaching self-reflective, mindful practice as “kumbaya” stuff of interest mainly to vegetarians in Birkenstocks rather than an important part of what every family law needs to know.

 

Your Tweets Reveal your Psychological Type to Big Business Advertisers

 

Your Social Media Posts are Psychologically Profiling You for Big Business

Your Social Media Posts May Soon Be  Setting You Up to  Buy More

IBM to test people’s psychology through Twitter posts – The Times of India.

We are just that much closer to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World with the announcement (first published today in the Times of India’s Social Media blog) that IBM is analyzing Twitter users’ posts to mine information about each writer’s personality typology so that ads can not only be targeted for content and location, but also be framed in terms tailored to appeal most strongly to the psychological profile of the reader.

IBM is developing software that classifies the  psychological type of Twitter users, from their tweets.  The company intends to sell the software widely to businesses that market their wares online.

This is one of many emerging efforts by psychologists to create analytic tools that can offer a quick glimpse of an individual’s psychological type so that communications can be shaped in ways that are most likely to be heard.  Psychiatrists are experimenting with quick “seat of the pants” ways to determine basic psychological typology when doing initial interviews with psychiatric inpatients, and rumor has it that more than a few companies are training telephone bank employees to do the same, using “quick and dirty” instruments adapted from the Myers-Briggs test. The idea is that with this information the speaker can then talk in ways that are much likelier to be heard.

It’s spooky when methods like these lead to increasingly invasive  large-scale hucksterism.  But it’s a  different question whether lawyers might consider using such tools to do a better job of communicating with their individual clients. Surely it could only help if we lawyers learned how to speak analytically to thinking types, but  in relational terms to feeling types, for instance.  Similarly, learning how  differently people who are “judgment” and “perception” types process information to reach conclusions can make us more patient with clients whose typology differs from our own, and can help us do a better job of counseling them about the personal factors that may underlie legal disputes.  Integrative lawyers–and any lawyer–can benefit from any tool that improves the quality of our communications with distressed clients.

From the post:

“The software develops a personality profile based on a person’s most recent few hundred or thousand Twitter updates and then scores the ‘big five’ traits namely, extroversion, agreeableness, conscientiousness, neuroticism and openness to experience.

Zhou said that the software might help companies to tune marketing messages sent by email or social media, or to select the promotional content displayed when a customer logs in to his or her account.

A researcher at the University of Pennsylvania, Andrew Schwartz said that it seems reasonable that personality would be useful for presenting ads that resonate better with the recipient, the report added.”