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.

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

 

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.”

Program for Certifying Integrative Lawyers Announced by Integrative Law Institute

PROGRAM FOR CERTIFICATION IN INTEGRATIVE LAW

Certification in Integrative Law

ILI’s program for certifying integrative lawyers has two purposes:

  • to encourage and recognize lawyers who engage in significant continuing education study aimed at developing the skills and understandings that support practicing law as a healing profession, and
  • to provide a means for members of the public to locate and identify lawyers who are committed to providing professional services  that address human conflicts constructively, not solely as legal problems but also across the  many other dimensions in which conflict impacts lives.

The core of the certification program is ILI’s own workshops and programs for practicing lawyers.  The hallmark of ILI programs is that they integrate creative conflict resolution tools, traditional understandings and practices, and emerging research discoveries from the biological and social sciences in a manner that lawyers, mediators, and judicial officers can use right away in their work.  ILI’s workshops and trainings include hands-on experiential components wherever possible.

Applicants for ILI certification will be asked to provide documentation of at least 40 hours of continuing education course work consisting of at least 25 hours of  workshops and trainings provided by ILI, with the balance consisting of approved courses provided either by ILI or by its partner organizations and colleagues.

Lawyers who have earned ILI’s certification in integrative law will be listed on ILI’s website and social media sites with links back to their own websites, and will be permitted to display ILI’s certification badge on websites, social media sites, and on professional materials.  Under development is a plan to provide Certified Integrative Lawyers with an online participatory virtual community.

The certification program, some components of which are still under development, is  being launched in phases beginning in early 2013,  so that participants in current ILI workshops  who have interest in certification can be aware of this option as they plan their ongoing continuing education.

 Earning Certification Credits

For 2013, continuing education credits as follows may be submitted for purposes of certification.  New  ILI courses and a limited number of select additional continuing education partners will be added to this list from time to time. The courses will be offered in major U.S. cities during 2013 and 2014.  By 2014, ILI also expects to offer some courses online.

Invitations to bring any ILI program to your city are welcome, as are program co-sponsorships.

ILI workshops and courses (as of January 2013)

Pauline Tesler Presenting at Integrative Law Workshop


  • Law and the Human Brain: Neuro-Literacy 101 for Lawyers, Mediators, and Judges. A complete description of this course is available at  http://is.gd/NeuroLiteracy101 (6 hours)
  • Money, Law, and Values. An investigation of how money, law, and values intersect and sometimes collide in legal negotiations, and an exploration of pathways through the challenges.  The workshop is described in more depth  at  http://is.gd/MoneyLawValuesWorkshop  (6 hours)
  • Weekend Workshop:  Becoming an Integrative Lawyer.  (Attendance at a weekend workshop is required for certification.)  This is a  highly personalized workshop with limited enrollment, offered in a variety of peaceful locations convenient to major cities. Included in the workshop is  facilitated personal self-reflection and strategic planning for achieving a law practice that supports working as an integrative lawyer.  The workshop curriculum  provides an overview and introduction to integrative law vectors, including: therapeutic/integrative jurisprudence and ethics, communications, narrative and re-storying techniques, body-mind awareness practices and tools, human needs theory, positive psychology,  negotiations theory,  systems theory and team practice,  behavioral and neuro-economics perspectives, collaborative practice, apology/forgiveness,restorative justice, integrative and values-based transactional practice, interest-based negotiations.  The fee for the workshop includes one hour of follow-up individual practice development consultation with Pauline Tesler, either via video conferencing or in person.  (15 to 18 hours)

Continuing Education Partners (as of January 2013)

  Lawyers may submit for certification purposes proof of in-person attendance at approved continuing education courses offered by these organizations and individuals.  Ordinarily, courses submitted for certification must carry  either state bar approved continuing legal education credit, or alternatively,  APA, state, or similar approved  CEU credit intended for other professions, such as psychologists, psychotherapists, or health care professionals.  Courses offered by ILI partners that do not carry such approved credit or that are attended online will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

ILI welcomes certification partnership inquiries from workshop leaders, trainers, and organizations that provide high quality continuing education in the vectors recognized by ILI for integrative law certification.  We consider for certification partnership programs that offer substantial original material developed by the presenter.

To be included in ILI’s mailing list, click here:   For more information, contact Pauline Tesler:  phtesler@integrativelawinstitute.org

Leading positive psychology researcher joins Integrative Law Institute Advisory Board

Integrative law vector: positive psychologyWe are delighted to announce that Dacher Keltner, Ph.D., has joined the Advisory Board of the Integrative Law Institute.  A leading researcher and scholar in the relatively new field of positive psychologyDacher is the executive editor of Greater Good, the founding faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center, and a professor of psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is also the author of Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life and a co-editor of The Compassionate Instinct: The Science of Human Goodness. His prolific research and writing have helped to transform our understanding of what it means to be human by investigating positive attributes such as compassion, empathy, cooperation, and altruism as the evolutionary endowment that enabled our survival and flourishing as a species, and that make us–well–human.

Here is a description of the domain of positive psychology that makes it clear why ILI includes basic elements of positive psychology in its programming for lawyers:

Positive Psychology is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. . . . This field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play.

Positive Psychology has three central concerns: positive emotions, positive individual traits, and positive institutions. Understanding positive emotions entails the study of contentment with the past, happiness in the present, and hope for the future. Understanding positive individual traits consists of the study of the strengths and virtues, such as the capacity for love and work, courage, compassion, resilience, creativity, curiosity, integrity, self-knowledge, moderation, self-control, and wisdom. Understanding positive institutions entails the study of the strengths that foster better communities, such as justice, responsibility, civility, parenting, nurturance, work ethic, leadership, teamwork, purpose, and tolerance.

Dacher Keltner’s research interests include not only the workings of emotion and power in social relationships (areas of obvious relevance to lawyers whose clients are experiencing legal issues that arise from fractured human relationships) but also human morality.  Here is how he describes that aspect of his work:

My final research interest lies in the study of how humans negotiate moral concerns. Here I have examined how opposing partisans tend to assume that they alone see the issues objectively and in principled fashion, a tendency we call “naive realism”. We have shown that opposing partisans attribute extremism and bias to their opponents.

In studies of moral judgment, I have shown how emotions such as anger, sadness, and fear influence judgments of causality, fairness, and risk. More recently, I have begun to study the contents of three moral domains – autonomy, community, and purity – and how these domains relate to emotion and prejudice.

Morality,  “neuro-morality,” and positive psychology are vectors that ILI includes in its programs teaching Integrative Law.  It is exciting and gratifying for us to have the support of one of the most creative scholars in the field.

 

 

 

Physical Health May be At Risk When Legal Conflict Resolution Settlements Create “Haves” and “Have Not’s”

I often use Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs as a tool in my conflict resolution courses and workshops for lawyers.  It posits that before anyone can attend to higher-level needs such as love, belonging, esteem, and realizing dreams, the lower level needs (survival needs like food, shelter, clothing, followed by safety) have to be satisfied.

Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs

When we negotiate settlement agreements on behalf of clients in relational disputes (e.g. divorce, will contests, small business dissolutions) whose lower-level needs are adequately met by any reasonable measure, it can sometimes be perplexing for lawyers to appreciate the degree to which some  clients focus not on the sufficiency of their own resources but on the gap between what they will end up with as compared to the other party or parties in the dispute.

A recent article in the New Scientist explains how health and relative wealth may be directly linked in unexpected ways.

Thomas McDade, a biological anthropologist at Northwestern University and director of Cells to Society at the Center on Social Disparities and Health at the Institute for Policy Research in Evanston, Illinois, says that additional research [shows]. . .” that even if you have a stable job and a middle-class income, then your health is not as good as that of someone who is in the 1 per cent. There is something more fundamental about social stratification that matters to health and the quality of social relationships.”

The issues of relative poverty are more nuanced than meeting basic needs for food and shelter. A hundred years ago it might have been whether you could afford to eat meat once a week – or have an indoor toilet. Today it might be whether you can afford to mark your child’s birthday with a party, Marmot  [Michael Marmot, an epidemiologist at University College London specialising in the health effects of inequality] says. “It matters because of what it means: can I participate in society?”

The great divide

Relative poverty goes hand in hand with inequality. “What we find is that the bigger the inequalities, income, educational, social, in a whole variety of ways, the bigger the health inequalities,” Marmot says.

The key is that having less than your peers seems to generate stress, at least at the level of large groups. And many studies over decades draw a straight line between stress and disease.

“How does having less relative to your peers undermine health? Study after study identifies the culprit as stress. Not day-to-day fretting, but persistent psychological and physiological reactions to external threats that cannot necessarily be addressed or avoided. Much of this research focuses on those living in impoverished communities, but these associations only diminish by degree as you ascend the economic ranks of a society. “Socioeconomic status, and social stratification in particular, is a very powerful determinant of health – for populations and for individuals,” says McDade.

Toxic stress

Unrelenting stress is toxic because it can turn the body’s defence system against itself. Neuroendocrinologist Bruce McEwen at Rockefeller University in New York says the stress response that evolved to protect us from harm can be hijacked and actually cause harm when the stress never abates. In a normal situation, the introduction of stress causes the body to deliver a boost of energy – by sending a surge of glucose to the muscles – and to increase heart rate, blood pressure and breathing to get oxygen to the muscles in a hurry. At the same time, blood vessels constrict and clotting factors increase – ready to slow bleeding in case you are wounded. These responses are part of a fight-or-flight survival kit, and once the stress has passed, these should subside.

But for people under unremitting stress, this response never quite switches off – leaving sugar levels unregulated, high blood pressure, increased risk of blood clots, depressed sex drive and an immune system buckling under the strain. Prolonged exposure to stress hormones can have other effects as well, including affecting the brain by altering the structure of neurons and their connections, which in turn can influence behaviour and change hormonal processes.”

 

How can we apply these ideas to conflict resolution work?

What applies at the macro level may well apply also at the  level of individuals in their families and communities and in the negotiating room.  These ideas are worth thinking about as a tool for educating parties to a conflict about interests that may live below awareness but nonetheless are in the room affecting the negotiating process.  Surfacing the issue certainly won’t worsen the problem, and may help parties to hear one another more empathically.

Powerful People Believe Everyone–Except Themselves–Should Follow Rules

Which one feels more powerful?

A recent study explored the impact of having power–or even thinking for a moment about power–on moral judgements.  Power causes  people to be much more likely to advocate for moral judgments based upon following the rules.  In contrast, people primed to think about or experience powerlessness  are much likelier to make situational moral judgments that aim at accomplishing the right outcome,  even if the means flout clear rules.

Jorris Lammers and his colleagues presented volunteers with sharp moral dilemmas, and asked them to decide the right course of conduct.  Should police interrogators falsely tell an admitted kidnapper that a world expert in use of torture (a prohibited interrogation method) was en route via helicopter to force disclosure of where the kidnapped young boy was being hidden?  Should doctors who knew a young man had only six months to live because of an incurable, fatal illness hide the diagnosis from him, as requested by his girlfriend but prohibited by applicable ethical rules, long enough for the young man to enjoy a forthcoming and long-anticipated vacation with  her?

Probing the impact of power on people’s moral thinking, the researchers assigned two conditions to the volunteers.  One group was primed with words associated with being powerful, or put in an experimental situation in which they were given power over others, while the second group was primed with words relating to powerlessness, or put in experimental situations in which others had power over them.  The powerful group was far more likely to insist that the rules must be followed.  The powerless group was far more likely to decide that the desirable end justified the impermissible means.

So are people more likely to act according to the rules if they are in positions of power?

Yes, unless it’s their own ox that is being gored.

Lammers’ group then asked both the “power-primed” and the “powerless-primed” groups to read a short narrative and decide whether it was OK for an impoverished apartment-seeker to jump a three-year waiting list for subsidized public housing by using a trick that would place him or her at the front of the queue. Again, those randomly assigned to the power condition were much likelier to disapprove of breaking the rules than those assigned to the powerless condition.

But this time, the study included a tricky wrinkle.  Half of each group read the narrative in the third person, while the other half of each group read the story in the first person, as follows:

“Suppose you are looking for a new apartment after your landlord has terminated the tenancy. However, the only affordable option is public housing, for which there is a three-year waiting list. There is however a trick that allows you to bypass the waiting list and immediately obtain a house.”

The impact of self interest was startling:  if the story was seen as about themselves, the effects of power on moral judgment were reversed.  Those in power were much less likely to insist that the rules should be applied to themselves, while those who were powerless were much more likely to insist that the rules must be followed if they envisioned themselves actually placed in the moral dilemma.

According to Irish neuroscientist Ian H. Robertson, “Power has strong neurological effects on the brain and one of them is that power fosters moral exceptionalism, where rules are applied strenuously to other people. . .but the {same people}. . . feel themselves excepted from equivalent rules governing their conduct.”

Why this insight matters in conflict resolution practice:

When lawyers handle legal conflicts that arise out of an important but  fractured human relationship (think: divorce, will contests, small partnership dissolutions, family business disputes) it’s common for existing or perceived power dynamics in the relationship to become magnified during litigation and settlement negotiations.

Experienced lawyers know that the designated or self-designated powerless party may carry an exaggerated notion of the other party’s ability to dominate negotiations.  Such perceptions may feed reactive, fear-based choices of aggressive legal counsel as well as flooding of “fight-or flight” emotions during key events in the dispute resolution process, whether in court or at the negotiating table.

This research adds a more complex dimension to power dynamics at the negotiating table.  Collaborative law and other interest-based settlement modalities depend on transparency and good faith negotiating practices.  Could it be that in disputes between parties who display  significant power disparities, the more powerful party may be more susceptible to bending the rules for personal advantage than the process permits?  Could it be that the more powerful lawyer at the table may do the same?

Conversely, might the more powerless party be likelier to cherry-pick, insisting on legal rights and entitlements when the rules benefit him/her, while advocating for outcome-based solutions when the rules benefit the other party?

We don’t have firm answers to these questions, but the study should cause us to ask: What tools and techniques could we devise that might re-weight the  moral scales back toward transparency, clarity, and a level playing field?

We might begin by doing a little neuro-education, adapting Lammers’ study with moral dilemmas more closely related to legal negotiations, and presenting our clients with those  moral dilemmas when we prepare them for negotiating sessions.  If we sensitize ourselves and our clients to the dynamics of power through education, we can name the problem and perhaps mitigate the impact.

And of course, we can make use of priming ourselves, to re-balance the scales.

Look for ILI courses in Neuro-Resolution to earn CLE credits while learning more about priming and other realities at the intersection of neuroscience and conflict resolution practice.

Ask your bar association to bring ILI’s Neuro-Resolution courses to your community.

The study is:   Lammers, Joris et al  (2009) Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, 97, 279-289.  Robertson discusses this study in his forthcoming book:  The Winner Effect: How Power Affects Your Brain, to be released in  October by St Martin’s Press.

Lying and Deceit in Negotiations: Gender May Matter

Which One(s) Are the Spin Doctors?

A disturbing report from the June 2012 issue of Scientific American suggests that in competitive negotiating situations, men are far likelier than women  to engage in deceptive practices –at least in situations involving their perceived masculine identity.  Two independent studies found that  men were consistently “more willing than women to engage in shady tactics: they were more accepting of techniques like making false promises, misrepresenting information, and sabotaging their opponents. This was especially true for men who believed that negotiation prowess was an innate and integral part of their masculine nature.”

One of the studies concluded that  “men’s moral judgments varied in such a way as to maximize their own advantage in each negotiation process; when necessary for personal gain, ethical missteps were acceptable. By contrast, women made similar ethical judgments across all perspectives. Even when the ethical choice was clearly detrimental to personal success, women maintained their ethical standards.”

I don’t write these reports or do the research; I just marvel at it.

A caveat:  the studies focused on competitive negotiation scenarios.  Failure in these historically male-dominated situations, the writer suggests, may be associated with diminished status, threat to professional rank, and – at least for some men – perceived weakness. The reporter proposes that “women may demonstrate similar vulnerabilities to their moral standards when faced with dilemmas that challenge their feminine competency or identity, or in arenas were women are (stereotypically) expected to be successful (e.g., skill as a mother, navigating social interactions, effectiveness as a writer).”

These studies shed light on the curiously matter-of-fact way in which many traditional lawyers accept puffery and downright misrepresentation during “courthouse steps” settlement negotiations as normal and appropriate ways to behave.

Could these studies also explain why the explosion of ADR settlement modalities in the legal profession during the last quarter of the 20th Century more or less parallels the explosion in female admissions to law school and to the practicing bar over that same period?

Just wondering….

The article is: When Men Are Less Moral Than Women By Cindi May  | Tuesday, June 19, 2012 |

 

 

Narrative, Stories, Emotion and Meaning in Conflict Resolution Law Practice

A story full of emotion and meaning

For the past three days, I’ve been a participant-observer in a workshop for healthcare professionals presented by Dr. Rachel Naomi Remen, a member of the faculty at University of California Medical School in San Francisco and a fellow program director at  Commonweal. Entitled The Healing Power of Story: Opening to a Deeper Human Connection, this workshop taught simple, accessible, and yet profound ways to reclaim surprise, meaning, and inspiration in the ordinary everyday encounters that professionals have with colleagues, clients, and patients.

Rachel’s work speaks most directly to healthcare professionals because of commonalities in the personal values and qualities that led them to choose nursing, or medicine, or veterinary practice, or psychotherapy as career paths.  All the people in the room (except me) had discovered before they were ten years old that caring for the needs of other living things was a fundamental organizing purpose of their lives.

And yet I,  a lawyer, saw immediately how these practices and insights could help members of my own profession reclaim meaning and integration in our daily work with clients–serving them better, and at the same time taking better care of ourselves as human beings.  It seems to me that the profound organizing purpose that most of us in the legal profession discovered in our early years and that we carry forth in our work arises out of deeply held values of fairness and peace.  Yet as we learn to be lawyers, we are socialized to move away from important human qualities and behaviors that surely are central in helping our clients find fair resolution and peace.

To become lawyers, we have struggled to hone necessary skills and to become excellent at what we do.  Although most of us brought to the table a facility with language, argumentation and logic, nonetheless it came easily to none of us to “think like a lawyer,” the first hard lesson of a legal education.  Many of us have paid a steep price as we shaped ourselves to match the professional persona of a lawyer, pruning away what doesn’t match the official job description  (empathy is often one of the early casualties) and squeezing into the box inconvenient  human qualities (our own emotions, our own most accessible ways of apprehending reality) unrelated to legalistic deductive reasoning, so as to keep them unseen and under control.

Do we have to leave behind essential humanity to practice law?  I don’t think so.  But that’s what happens to us in law school and in our on the job experiences in court.  No wonder lawyers register so high in all the indicia of a profession in trouble:  drug abuse, alcoholism, major depression, suicide.  We tend not to want our children to follow in our footsteps, and perhaps this problem–the loss of intrinsic human meaning in our daily work–is the reason.

I’ve taken from Rachel’s workshop some proven approaches that you’ll be seeing in the programs on reclaiming meaning in legal practice that the Integrative Law Institute will be offering during late 2012 and 2013. We will examine what we have in common that drew us to law rather than other professions, and what is intrinsic to helping others heal breaches in the social fabric, and what is not.

Email me at phtesler@integrativelawinstitute.org to join the list of lawyers, mediators, and judges receiving earliest notification and enrollment information for these events.

 

Rachel is the author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings.