[Strategy] Burnout Over The Pacific

When you talk with divorce and family lawyers about divorces, separations, or even “conscious uncouplings” a statement they always make in the course of the conversation focuses around their amazement that couple choose to go through a litigation based process.

In particular, their statement tends to focus on the fact that litigation takes time and is more emotionally draining than mediation, and yet many couples would prefer to go through that process than another, more collaborative one.

There are many points to consider from this observation, but there are three immediate ones that could be instructive and strategic for your conflict situation—even if you’re not getting a divorce, experiencing a separation, or have decided to “consciously uncouple”:

  • A desire to see “justice done” is really a desire to see our will done unto the other person who hurt us. Which really means, when we go to a third party (whether a lawyer or a judge—and sometimes even a mediator) we aren’t looking to grow collaboratively with the other party out of a difficult relationship. We’re really looking for revenge and a reckoning.
  • Collaboration is not about “being friends again” or even forgiving the other party. Collaboration is simultaneously a selfish and selfless act of growing with that other person (who sometimes you have a deeply personal relationship with) so that the relationship can end in a way that benefits both of you. Mediation is a collaborative process. Litigation is always a competitive process.
  • Litigating not to “lose” is not the same as not collaborating to “win.” The fact of the matter is, “winning” and “losing” are black and white concepts that have little to nothing to do with the facts of the dispute, the relationships involved, the values on the table, the positions and interests of the parties involved, or the outcome in question. But parties in a dispute often view not “losing” (or outright “winning”) as the only satisfactory strategy that can justify emotional decisions made in all of those areas. Which is why litigated disputes always end up feeling emotionally hollow and are often decided—in hindsight—to have been a waste of both time and energy.

Many people in disputes, conflicts, disagreements, and who are having “differences of opinion” with other parties, experience a sense of burnout throughout the processes of both litigation and mediation. But the question on the table is “Do you prefer your burnout slow and steady, or quick and dirty?”

Answering that question, individually and corporately, with honesty, self-awareness, and insight into the other party, can lead to picking the best process for managing your particular conflict.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

We Built This

There’s been a trend that has advanced as our electronic tools have outstripped our good sense, our common decency and our impulse control.


The trend can be heard in phrases such as “my Twitter feed blew up” or “Facebook melted down.”

When the popular media narrative drives emotional responses to hot button issues, surrounding topics such justice, identity, legal decisions or social depredations to push up ratings and gather attention, the population in the United States now has the tools and know how, to take to Twitter and Facebook and express displeasure, disgust or even to “poke the bear.”

The social contract is breaking down, not because people have the tools to express opinions from the peanut gallery, but because every peanut in the gallery has access to the tools in the first place.

But, we in the field of ADR shouldn’t get mad at the Internet or social media. After all, we either actively or passively, participated in building the media that we have right now.

We shouldn’t throw up our hands in disgust and walk away, tune out, turn off and drop off the “map.” We also probably shouldn’t engage, foment and otherwise stir the pot more, with anything but affirmations of peace and solutions to complicated issues.

We have taken the words of the Declaration of Independence, and the admonitions and arguments of dead 18th, 19th and 20th century white male philosophers to heart, but unfortunately, we have taken them to heart—and to task—using tools and social spaces that weren’t really designed for nuanced observation, conversation and peacebuilding.

The popular narrative is exactly that—a story—and we as individuals are under no obligation to spread the story, comment on the story, or even to believe the story.

We are under obligation, as peacemakers, to point out alternatives to the dominate narrative, no matter from whom—the majority or the minority—it may spring, and offer a path toward the Truth.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

Why So “Serious?”

Amid the theater and drama surrounding the very real conflict around the 2013 government shutdown, the Affordable Health Care Act implementation and other events in Washington DC, we are a little surprised here at HSCT to hear one word fall consistently from our government leaders’ lips:



As in, “I won’t negotiate without serious reform on the table.”


“I won’t talk to [Insert name of politician/political party here] until they make a serious offer for change.”

Now, part of our role here at HSCT is to teach people how to negotiate. We teach how to navigate stonewalling, interests, judgments about the future, risk tolerance, and time preference. In addition, we cover lessons around framing, communication and the use of deceptive tactics.

We’re also not naïve to the whims and modes of American political history and realize that there have been “budget battles” in Washington DC that looked intractable, but that eventually produced workable compromises between governing parties.

However, nowhere in our training or in our experiences, were we ever taught to not negotiate until the other party became “serious” and made an offer we could live with before beginning the bargaining process.

This all kind of puts us in mind of The Joker in The Dark Night .

He didn’t want to negotiate until Batman was “serious” either. And yet, somehow, negotiations (such as it were in the film) moved forward anyway.

And that’s what has us so surprised.

After all of the bluffing, deception, and everything else, we are absolutely sure that the debt ceiling, the government shutdown and the Affordable Health Care Act implementation will be resolved one way or another.

But, when people in power harden their positions—as do their followers, the pundits and the casual observers—the chances that, to paraphrase from The Joker “everything burns,” become that much more possible.

Why then, is there such emphasis on “serious?”

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: hsconsultingandtraining@gmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/

[Guest Blogger] Sheila Sproule: How I Became Inspired

What you do makes a difference, and you have to decide what kind of difference you want to make.”― Jane Goodall
The Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT) guest blogger this week is Sheila M. Sproule.
A graduate of Fordham University School of Law, Sheila serves in multiple capacities in the pursuit of peace in New York State.
Most prominently, she is the current President of the Association for Conflict Resolution-Greater New York chapter (http://www.acrgny.org/). As the president, she works to outreach and advocate for the interests of professional mediators, academics involved in the field and fellow legal practitioners of ADR in the greater New York area. From the ACR-GNY website:
“The Association for Conflict Resolution Greater New York Chapter, Inc. (ACR-GNY) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to promoting and strengthening alternative dispute and conflict resolution, fostering the use of dialogue and contributing to professional development of the ADR field.”
In her professional life, Sheila works in the NYS Office of ADR and Court Improvement Programs as a Management Analyst. She is a tireless advocate of ADR processes and the ADR field overall and approaches her work with excitement, energy and an enthusiasm that is infectious and inspiring.
We here at Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT) are proud to feature her writing here and heartily recommend joining ACR-GNY if you are a professional in the field of mediation anywhere in the Greater New York area.
I became inspired to mediate in law school when I joined a mediation clinic out of curiosity.
YinYang and ACR-GNY Logo
It was a new concept to me — the idea that people could go to a third party neutral to assist them in resolving disputes — which is exactly the role I played when a group of us went in to small claims court each week to mediate cases.
It was eye-opening to realize that people were often motivated to sue each other because they wanted a chance to confront the person they felt wronged or disrespected by, and often never even spoke with until that day for the first time communicate since the incident. I found that money was not the only factor in every dispute mediated; but, rather everyone wanted to be heard.
As a former Adjunct in the same clinic years later, I learned how important it was for people to have their feelings validated by a neutral third person; someone that could reframe their situation to the other party in ways the other party could hear them.
These are just some of the values embedded in the dispute resolution field. As current President of ACR-GNY, it is my role to ensure that the public is made aware of all the options available to them when they are in conflict — from the early stages to the late stages. 
Dispute resolution practices take many different forms, and our membership embodies all the possible options out there — mediation, arbitration, coaching, settlement conferencing, and facilitation.
Please visit our website and learn more: www.acrgny.org.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Mediator/Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
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[Guest Blogger] Leah Cagle: Why I Mediate

“It isn’t enough to talk about peace. One must believe in it. And it isn’t enough to believe in it. One must work at it.”- Eleanor Roosevelt

Leah Cagle of Georgia Mediation Professionals, Inc., brings 20+ years of educational, entrepreneur and life experience to her extensive work in the field of mediation.
A seasoned practitioner with experience in  real estate, small business ownership, commercial development and construction, Leah has a sensitive and heartfelt approach toward working with all her clients and their needs.

Georgia Mediation Professionals, Inc., mediates civil and criminal cases referred to them through the Georgia State Court System as well as domestic cases.

Leah is a certified Christian counselor and brings her experience as a certified professional coach to the mediation table. She is a good friend of HSCT’s and we support her in her mission and goals to bring true peace and meaningful change to the world.
Check out the Georgia Mediation Professionals website at http://www.georgiamediationprofessionals.com/.

“I could never do what you do. Not in a million years!”
That’s what I hear when I tell people I am a Mediator/Peacemaker. Conflict isn’t a favorite thing on most individual’s lists, however, I live my life’s work and mission in the messy middle of people’s conflict.
Why do I do it? I don’t practice Peacemaking because I’m looking to get rich or because it’s easy. Peacemaking is very difficult and high stress every day (I work with Lawyers!).
Starting a new business is difficult, high stress and often shows little return (financially) in the early years. The field of Mediation is tough! Getting a foot in the door is a huge challenge, and keeping it there requires a strong work ethic, honing of my skills set, and consistency.
As the world and the field of Conflict Resolution changes, we, as Peacemakers, must adapt.  Peacemaking isn’t what I do, it’s who I am. I am passionate about modeling a better way to “do conflict”.
The world around us is changing at the most rapid pace ever. We have lost the art of civil discourse. Conflict escalates daily. We need Peacemakers in every arena of life.
Networking, even if I don’t see a return on the contact for months or years, continual dialogue with other Peacemakers, listening to their ideas and thoughts on change, walking into another Peacemaking setting even though yesterday’s left me exhausted, I do all these things because I am a Peacemaker.
I am passionate about peace.

Leah Cagle, M.A.
Conflict Resolution Specialist

-Peace Be With You All-Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: jsorrells@hsconsultingandtraining.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HSConsultingandTraining
Twitter: www.twitter.com/Sorrells79
LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/jesansorrells/