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15 July 2008

Mediatin'... So I had to engage in a mediation for my job today....[More:], which had me really freaked out. But, oddly, I kind of loved it. This was over an employment dispute and I can't describe any details. And it was kind of a downer in some ways. But in others, it was absolutely fascinating. It was like being in the middle of an unpredictable strategy game, a contest of wills and cleverness, of gradually revealed information and of calculated risk. There was a lot of going back and forth with messages written on paper, a lot of tense waiting for response, and in between, a lot of philosophizing from our lawyer on how these things go and how people act and what the aim is.

It kind of left me wishing that there was a way to play this as a video game, so that there really wasn't anything real on the table. I can't imagine a game that would be smart enough, but if you could play the lawyer in some sort of dispute between big companies, or a company and a union, and try to negotiate the best deal for your client, that would be awesome. You could play a good-guy hero lawyer trying to squeeze every dime out of of a rotten polluter, or you could play an shark working toward your next Rolex by exploiting little grannies. It would be a very interesting game - almost a choose-your-own adventure with infinite outcomes.

Clearly this brought out something in me I didn't know was there.

I know some of you do this for a living and it's probably got its utterly miserable side, particularly with family law. But because I was not personally liable and because we were in a very good position, I didn't have to sweat it too much and was able to enjoy the strategic aspect.
Oh, mediation. For a minute I thought you said 'meditation'and I had an image of you sitting in the lotus position saying "Oooom,'re fired, asshole...Oooommm'
posted by jonmc 15 July | 16:40
I thought meditation too... and I was picturing a Michael Scott-type boss coming in and turning all the lights in your office off for "forced meditation hour."
posted by rmless2 15 July | 16:45
I know some of you do this for a living...

yes. why yes, in fact I do. Not the mediating, mind. I seem to have morphed from quality audits into a legal/contracts peon in my most recent reshuffle at [ginormous international biopharma]. However, I do frequently get to see the corporate senior partner engage in what we've both now dubbed "LAWYERFIGHT!!!" The mere fact that my boss giggled like a 10-year-old hooligan when I first used the term (and explained it to him as a variant/subspecies of NERDFIGHT!!!) just makes me enjoy working with the guy all that much more.

To me the most interesting part is the lengths of suave, erudite diplomacy each entity will go to in order to basically, y'know, tell each other to fuck off and die.

I do indeed find it fascinating, and also think it might be a cool game in some species of Sims-like environment.
posted by lonefrontranger 15 July | 17:10
Ha! My life is that video game.

But as for mediation, I used to do it in small claims court and family court. Yes, family court mediation was miserable.
posted by amro 15 July | 17:35
My mediation professor tried to teach us that the goal of mediation was getting everyone to leave the room equally unhappy.

Although I find that to be true, I still like mediation.
posted by crush-onastick 15 July | 20:29
I would love to have seen you in action, Miko.

Clearly this brought out something in me I didn't know was there.

I remember when a young, very religious co-worker said this very thing to me after we'd taken a road trip to Vegas. (He was talking about Vegas itself, not the trip- ahem.) Good times. :)
posted by BoringPostcards 15 July | 21:41
Yep, I thought you said meditation too. I didn't realize what you were talking about until you got the "personally liable" part. It was really fun visualizing a corporate conference room, furniture removed, everyone sitting cross-legged on the floor, and writing down thoughts about this conflict between an anti-pollution crusader and granny-hatin Rolex-seeker.

Seriously, the dynamics you describe are inherently dramatic -- they tap into the same part of our psyches that find a narrative of some sort in anything and everything. But you're also discovering the narrative, moment by moment -- which in itself is a kind of cool meta-narrative that's equally engaging.

But, yeah, to actually be one of the "main characters" on the "stage" doesn't sound like fun at all.

Wow, that audience/stage distinction is really fundamental to human social existence, isn't it?
posted by treepour 15 July | 22:16
Lawyering as a video game: Miko, meet Phoenix Wright.
posted by Fuzzbean 15 July | 22:20
A gabled political theory follows. || Ask MeCha: iPod Touch now, or iPhone later?