Mediating High Conflict Disputes

Mediating High Conflict Disputes


Available for Pre-Order. This item will be available on May 25, 2021


High conflict mediation requires a paradigm shift from traditional mediation—high conflict experts Bill Eddy and Michael Lomax show you how.

Over the past ten years the authors have been developing and practicing tips for managing high conflict clients in mediation, which is now a fully developed new method called New Ways for Mediation®.Mediating High Conflict Disputes gives all of the little tips which any mediator can use, as well as the step-by-step structure of the New Ways for Mediation method for those who want to have better control of the process in high conflict cases—or any cases.

Bill Eddy is primarily a family mediator in San Diego, California, with a worldwide reputation for training mediators, lawyers, judges and counselors in methods for working with clients with “high conflict” personality disorders or traits. Michael Lomax is a mediator dealing with family, workplace, military and government agency disputes in British Columbia, Canada. Both have provided training in this method for High Conflict Institute over the past ten years.

This book is divided into three parts:

Part 1 provides a thorough explanation of the thinking and behavior of parties with high conflict personalities, with an emphasis on what does not work and should be avoided.

Part 2 provides a detailed description of the New Ways for Mediation method, including several paradigm shifts in each step of the process for greater success. Its similarities and differences with interest-based negotiations and transformative mediation methods are explained.

Part 3 includes numerous examples describing cases with special issues in several settings, including family, workplace, and disputes involving government agencies.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781950057214
Publisher: High Conflict Institute Press
Publication date: 05/25/2021
Pages: 232
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.00(h) x 0.00(d)

About the Author

Bill Eddy is the co-founder and Chief Innovation Officer of the High Conflict Institute. He pioneered the High Conflict Personality Theory (HCP) and has become an expert on managing disputes involving people with high conflict personalities. He was the Senior Family Mediator at the National Conflict Resolution Center for 15 years, a Certified Family Law Specialist lawyer representing clients in family court for 15 years, and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker therapist with twelve years’ experience. He serves on the faculty of the Straus Institute for Dispute Resolution at the Pepperdine University School of Law in California and is a Conjoint Associate Professor with the University of Newcastle Law School in Australia. He has been a speaker and trainer in over 30 U.S. states and 10 countries and is the author or co-author of twenty books and has a popular blog on the Psychology Today website with several million views.

Michael Lomax, JD is a lawyer by profession, mediator, and an international speaker/trainer. He practiced family law for over 20 years and early in his career, ceased his court practice to focus on mediation and collaborative law. Michael has conducted hundreds of mediations including family, workplace, multi-party, and court-related matters. He has significant experience leading the design and implementation of workplace conflict management programs for large organizations. Michael has developed training for government, law firms, corporations, military, law enforcement, human resources, and unions. He has been an Associate Speaker/Trainer with High Conflict Institute since 2011 and lives on Vancouver Island in Canada.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

Mediation has come a long way over the past several decades. As an alternative to litigation, it has found its own identity and has established its rightful place in an increasing field of alternative dispute resolution methodologies. As with the evolution of any rising movement, mediation has expanded into several mainstream models, from its origins of “Facilitative” through “Evaluative” and “Transformative” and into “Therapeutic” and “Strategic.” As these theoretical movements were evolving, Bill Eddy found a unique niche, with his insight that there exists what he has coined “High Conflict People” (HCPs). In fact, he asserts that this group of people comprises 10% of our population and HCPs are present in every walk of life. As co-founder of the High Conflict Institute, Bill has actively promoted the special ways with which high conflict people need to be managed, whether in mediation or in ordinary relationships. His wide-ranging collection of published books on this topic has served as a seminal contribution to our growing knowledge of conflict and its resolution.

Bill Eddy’s latest innovative book,Mediating High Conflict Disputes: A Radical New Model with Tips, Tools and the New Ways for Mediation Method, written with co-author Michael Lomax, continues his legacy of detailing and further refining his concept of the High Conflict Person (HCP), a concept that has proved to be extremely useful to and well-received by both professional mediators and the general public. This book will be of enormous practical value to practicing mediators across a range of settings.

Bill’s gifts of simplifying complex psychological (and relevant brain research) concepts that explain the HCP, and offering practical, scripted interventions for effectively managing and calming them down, are on full display in this book. Moreover, the successful methodology of his New Ways model is featured in this book to include its use not only in divorce mediation cases, but in workplace disputes, elder mediation, and large-group disputes, as well. In this book, Bill and Michael further offer a range of specific, useful tips, and ethical considerations for the mediator in these settings. Also, they provide a comprehensive outline of the New Ways methodology, along with role-plays, for the practitioner to use immediately upon the completion of reading this book—a generous offering, indeed.

As detailed in this book, dealing with HCPs in the context of mediation requires a different way of thinking. Whether there is just one HCP, or two or more in a particular context of dispute resolution, the practitioner needs to understand and appreciate the necessity of operating differently with them than when mediating with “reasonable” disputants. The authors present, in simple and clear language, how the architecture and functioning of the HCPs brain appear, according to current neurological research, to be different than the brains of more “reasonable” people, and, as a result, there are expected and predictable outcomes in their behavior. Knowing these links between brain and behavior can immensely help the practitioner in not falling down the rabbit hole of escalating conflict and predictable impasse. The authors, supportively and repeatedly, remind the reader that most of the unhelpful conflict that arises when dealing with HCPs is created by the HCP, not by the practitioner (“Remember, it’s not you, it’s them!”). Their tendency towards conflict merely reflects the unique wiring and presumed limitations of the brains of the HCPs. Trying to persuade the HCP to be more logical and reasonable falls on deaf ears; it is a matter of can’t rather than won’t. The authors give practical ways to maneuver around the limitations of the HCP so as to increase the practitioner’s effectiveness in helping the disputants reach agreements—no matter the context of the dispute.

As the authors guide the mediator through high-conflict disputes, they present step-by-step details of the process, the order of issues to tackle, and the on-going mandate for maintaining client self-determination of the content while the mediator maintains very structured control of the process. Throughout the book, the authors give good details and plentiful examples of scripted statements, specifically designed to calm down the HCP effectively and preemptively from escalating.

Some of the suggestions presented for managing HCPs are counter-intuitive, or counter to regular mediation training. For example, the authors recommend having the clients, rather than the mediator, set the agenda. This helps to focus the HCP on tasks rather than emotions and helps rein in their tendencies to be emotionally reactive.
And, while conducting mediations with an HCP, the authors advise against using the traditional “interest-based negotiations,” in which exploring the interests of the parties come before making proposals. These authors suggest the opposite order of these in mediating with an HCP; make proposals first, as part of the critical need to set structure up-front, then interests can be explored within that discussion, not before. This approach helps contain the HCP from getting caught up in negative emotions and hijacking the mediator’s best efforts.

The authors of this book also suggest, in spite of the multitude of workshops available in the mediation marketplace on the “The Power of Apology,” that the mediator not support or encourage clients to apologize to an HCP. They dub it “Apology Quicksand” and view the HCP’s demand for an apology as “… a move to dominate or humiliate the other party, and to justify their own behavior…By seeking an apology, they can deny any responsibility whatsoever for the conflict, when it often is partly or mostly their own behavior that was a problem.”

And, as a last example of counter-intuitive suggestions, the authors discourage using a Transformative Model of mediation in workplace settings (Note: Transformative Mediation is the model used exclusively by the United States Postal Service!). The authors point out that this model is based upon encouraging insight and self-reflection within the disputants, which they assert is not possible with HCPs, and that it would only further focus them on their negative emotions, which tends to escalate conflict.

In sum, this book is an important, detailed, and practical summary of the special modifications of approach needed by mediators when dealing with disputes that involve high conflict. Such disputes typically have at least one High Conflict Person, who can drive the dispute to impasse, unless the HCP and the dispute resolution process are managed differently than in the usual ways. Whether you are a beginning or a very seasoned mediator, this book will show you the New Ways to do it.

Donald T. Saposnek, Ph.D.

Author of Mediating Child Custody Disputes

Co-Author of Splitting America, and The Child Support Solution

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