Mediation and Negotiation Competition in Vienna

July 2107 - I’m just back from the IBA-VIAC Mediation and Negotiation Competition in Vienna.  IBA is the International Bar Association, and VIAC is the Vienna International Arbitral Centre.  This year’s competition is the 3rd Annual.  Teams from 33 law schools from around the globe competed for a week in a mediation and negotiation exercise that culminated with the team from the National Law School of India (Bangalore) being crowned the winner after a head to head final round with the team from the University of Bonn Law School (Germany).  Approximately 30 mediators and mediation trainers also attended the competition, running a full schedule of mediation workshops for the students.  The competition was ably directed by Claudia Winkler (www.claudiawinkler.net), a negotiation and mediator trainer based in Vienna. 

At the competition I attended, along with about 40 other mediators, a workshop on “The Inner Game of Mediation: How to Perform under Pressure,” led by Aled Davies, founder and CEO of MediatorAcademy.com and Sabine Walsh, a mediator and trainer from the Mediators Institute of Ireland.  The best part of the workshop was a group exercise in which we all identified the qualities or attributes that help us perform to our best.  The top nominees were:

Attentiveness

Flexibility

Empathy

Curiosity

Mindfulness

Discipline

Tenacity

Stamina

Respectfulness

Intelligence

Creativity

Assertiveness

Patience

Adaptability

Neutrality

Calmness

Confidence

From a U. S. perspective, many clients and lawyers say they are most interested in “strong” mediator. What that often means is a mediator who will act as their ally in convincing the other side to accept their legal position.  Leaving aside the question of whether a “strong” mediator who presses one side or the other actually helps or hinders a resolution, what is noteworthy about the qualities identified above by 40 international mediators is that “Strong” isn’t on the list.  That’s likely because mediation as practiced elsewhere is more collaborative and more-client focused, and less lawyer-focused, than U. S. mediation is.  More on that next entry.  ALP