Carol Bowser & Jeanette Nyden

Featured Workshop Presenters
18th Annual Northwest Dispute Resolution Conference

Carol Bowser
Conflict Management Strategies Inc.
Puyallup, WA

Jeanette Nyden
J. Nyden & Co., Inc.
Seattle, WA

Is That Ethical? Challenging Negotiation Dilemmas for the Neutral

Session 1.4 Friday, April 29, 2011 1:00 – 2:15 p.m. (1.25 Ethics CLE Credits)

Lying during mediation takes all forms ranging from outright fraud to “tells” such as “to be honest with you ...” When parties hire us to be a neutral do they expect us to spot, manage and address lying at the bargaining table? Are those expectations reasonable - ethical even? What do we - as mediators - think our ethical responsibilities are, or ought to be? The speakers will cover a range of negotiation dilemmas from fraud, to bluffing, to little white lies. When do mediators have an obligation to expose lies? How should we handle situations where we think someone is lying to manipulate us?


Q&A with Carol Bowser

NWDR: What's your theme - your central point?

CB: Mediators find themselves in gray areas when parties lie or fib or use “hide the ball” negotiation tactics. 

NWDR: How do you describe your program?

CB: Interactive and fun. Real life situations where we know that there was lying, fibbing, or omissions going on. What should a mediator do? I mean seriously, what to do when folks are paying you money to help settle? What impacts your decision? The ethical rules? How you define your role as mediator? Who hired you? Who is paying the bill? The questions are easy - getting to an answer that works for you - not so easy in the moment.

Folks should come and see if other professionals would handle the situation the same way. Personally, I am always intrigued with the amount of strong feelings that these conversations generate at this conference. It seems that as dispute resolution professionals that we take it for granted that smart people could have opinions different from us.

NWDR: What's different about it?

CB: What’s not fun about ethics? Think of it as an ethics discussion over a pint of Guinness, but without the Guinness.

NWDR: Okay, so we'll save the Guinness for later - and you're buying. But for now, with thirty-plus workshops at the conference, why should people come to yours?

CB: They don’t call us the dynamic duo for nothing! We intend to laugh, ask questions, share stories, and listen to your stories. The goal is to walk away with better handle on the “What would I do if ...” question.

NWDR: Who would you like to see come?

CB: Anyone who mediates. The interaction will be really great with a combination of community-centered and legal-centered practitioners.

NWDR: What got you interested in the topic?

CB: We've had mediations where our Liar, Liar pants on fire alarm went off.

NWDR: Anything else you'd want us to know?

CB: I really like cupcakes red wine. Mediation really spins my jets, but when it goes wrong it is exhausting. Jeanette is partial to a great Chicago Hot Dog. She loves, loves, loves complicated negotiations. She also wrote the book on negotiation: Negotiation Rules.


See the full list of all 2011 Workshops here.

On-line registration. Conference brochure.

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