Whilst Rudyard Kipling wrote about “A Tale of Two Cities”, I recently appeared (in one city) but in two separate, back to back mediations. The two clients for whom I appeared were as different as two cities, or as two paths that diverged in the woods … but I digress.
The first client, John (not his real name, although he kindly consented to be the subject of this article), is a hard-nosed businessman who sells expensive goods. He is also a seasoned litigator – the result of his life in the corporate jungle.
Sun Tzu stated in the “Art of War” that it is best to win without conflict. But, that will only occur when you are ready, willing and able to have the fight. John embodies this attitude.
In my experience, the best results are achieved when I do the talking at Court, in a mediation or at any other meeting that I attend with our opponent/s. There are many reasons for that, including allowing me – as the objective, experienced professional - to control the flow of information.
John, despite my protests, decided to take centre-stage and talk. John also decided to be quite robust in both his comments and threats. Whilst I expected this to occur and advised John – repeatedly – against it, I adapted my strategy to portray myself as the ‘good cop’ and John as the ‘bad cop’, whilst also ensuring that the mediator terminated the session before John said anything too confrontational.
This non-conventional approach secured us a great deal (one that even surprised John), as we played to the inevitability of John’s bravado and what could well have been a weakness – by presenting John as a person completely prepared for the fight. The outcome – our win, without the fight. A result of which Sun Tzu would be proud.
Stay tuned for the next blog post to see how the next client fared …