EMPOWERED COMMUNICATION'S BLOG


EMPOWERED COMMUNICATION'S BLOG


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An ongoing series of informational entries

Mediator's Cafe

Blog Entry #6 The Mediator's Cafe

May 15, 2020

The first Mediator's Cafe session was held today, an online meeting of the Washington Mediation Association for continuing education and networking for our mediator members. Our Senior Mediator, Felicia Staub, is on the Board of Directors of the WMA. This project is her brainchild. She created and made it happen as a new benefit to WMA members across the state so that they can connect and learn without having to travel. It went great - 29 people attended, far more than was expected for the first session. They came from all over the state, as well as Idaho and Mexico. Felicia has been working on this for over 6 months, and the timing of its launch was very fortuitous given the epidemic. We are very excited about this! 


Gabriel Muñoz, Senior Trainer and Facilitator, [email protected]

Felicia Staub, Senior Mediator and Trainer, [email protected]


www.empoweredcommunications.org

LinkedIn: Empowered Communication LLC

Facebook: @empoweredcommunication

#empoweredcommunication #mediation #mediatortraining

Our Blog

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Mediation by Video Conferencing

Blog Entry #5 Mediation During the Pandemic

March 25, 2020

In this time of closed court services and social distancing, if you are involved in a family court or other court case, you may be frustrated with the delay in completing your case and resolving your issues. There’s still an option to try to finish and resolve your disputes, even during this pandemic. That is through mediation. 


Mediation can be done safely and remotely via video conferencing. At Empowered Communication, we are open and ready to mediate. During this lockdown, all of our intakes are done by phone, and all mediations are done by video conferencing. If you are a client, you needn't wait until after the pandemic has passed to resolve your dispute. If you are an attorney, you can decrease the backlog of your cases that’s being caused by this viral shutdown of the courts.


We charge $150 per hour for mediation and half the hourly rate for case intake, development, and planning. This would, as always, fulfill the mediation requirement of Yakima's local court rule. Mediation can be done if both parties agree to do so. Mediation scheduling can be expedited. They can be scheduled very quickly if needed. You can reach us by phone (509-654-6379), email ([email protected]), or through our contact page (www.empoweredcommunications.org/contact).


Thank you for your consideration. We wish you safety and good health.

Felicia Staub, Senior Mediator and Trainer

Gabriel Muñoz, Senior Trainer and Facilitator


www.empoweredcommunications.org

LinkedIn: Empowered Communication LLC

Facebook: @empoweredcommunication

#empoweredcommunication #mediation #mediationduringlockdown

Blog Entry #4 The Effect of Power in Mediation

November 14, 2019


Please notes: Details from the mediations mentioned below have been changed here in order to protect the parties' confidentiality.

I did a mediation the other day in which the levels of power of each party played a very important role. One can have power from a number of different sources: positional power (such as a supervisor), financial power, emotional power, self-esteem differences, personal attributes (such as size or attractiveness), verbal ability, intellectual ability, charisma, cultural power, religious power, informational power, a greater number of people on one side, differences in class, gender, age, sexual orientation, traditions, habits, and reward or punishment, to name a few.

The mediation I did had two parties who had different types of power, each having way more of their type of power than the other party.

The man had the type of power that comes from his style of communicating. He was very loud, emphatic, and aggressive in the way he speaks. He was very smart and articulate. He had a big personality, the kind of personality that takes up a lot more room than just the space his body took sitting at the table. He did most of the talking and dominated the air waves. The woman was not a native English speaker, so despite also being very intelligent, the English language was challenging for her. And her style of communicating was very different from his. She could speak her mind, but she was soft spoken and nervous around the man.

The woman had the type of power that comes from reward and punishment. The man was so in love with her that he would do anything to stay in her life, including showering her with money, giving her a car, and making her the beneficiary of all of his assets in the event of his death. She wanted the relationship to be over and wanted independence. Any continuing interaction between them was only if she would allow it, if she rewarded him with it. This was a big hammer that she held over his head, and she knew it.

In mediation, we mediators don’t make decisions for the parties. Decisions are up to them to propose and agree to. It is our job to help the parties communicate and help them understand each other. It is our responsibility to make sure that decisions the parties come to are fully informed and voluntary. This means that the decisions they’re making are with complete, accurate information and that they are not coerced in any way. It is not our responsibility to make sure that agreements are equitable or balanced. The parties get to decide whether or not they want the agreements to be equitable and balanced. But we do need to make sure that they are making them with full and accurate information and understanding and that they are deciding freely of their own volition.

Part of how we do that is by balancing power. If one party is more powerful than the other and we don’t intervene to balance it, they may push their viewpoints onto the other and push the other into signing agreements they don’t really want. If this were to happen, the agreement would not be voluntary. This is especially important to pay attention to if domestic violence has been an issue in the parties’ relationship.

An agreement would not be fully informed if the parties have different intellectual capacities or different levels of expertise on a certain topic and one party doesn’t fully understand something. It can also happen if one party intentionally withholds information and pushes for agreement in the absence of discussing the withheld information. This is an example of bad faith. I saw this happen in a mediation in the past when one party worked toward agreement on some parts of the dispute but didn’t talk about other parts. Because of the high level of emotion party 1 was experiencing just from having this discussion after their very bad breakup, she didn’t think to bring up the other issues. After they came to and signed an agreement about divvying up their possessions, party 2 casually mentioned as they were about to leave that they would deal with outstanding financial issues (a retirement fund and spousal maintenance) in court. Party 1 very strongly wanted to avoid court and would not have made the other agreements if she’d known about this. We mediators had asked about other issues and tried to ensure that all issues were being discussed, but party 2 did not raise the financial issues until after getting agreement about their possessions. Withholding like this is an example of bad faith and is an example of using financial and informational power to manipulate the other party so you can get what you want.

Some mediators have questioned whether balancing power affects the mediator’s neutrality, whether it is showing bias toward the less empowered party. I do not believe that it does. Balancing power is not the same as developing an opinion about the issues or trying to lead the parties toward a particular solution that benefits one party over the other by way of the types of questions asked or suggestions made. What it does do is make sure that both parties are heard and understood and that any agreements made are fully informed and voluntary.

In the case of the mediation I did the other day, if we had let the man’s communication power go unchecked and unbalanced, the woman would never have gotten to voice her side of things. She may have been coerced into making agreements that she didn’t really want and likely would have been unsatisfied with the mediation. If we had let the woman’s power of control over their future interactions go unchecked and unquestioned, the man would not have gotten any of what he wanted and would have been very unsatisfied with the mediation.

How we balanced the man’s communication power was by making sure that the woman got a chance to speak with equal air time and making sure that both parties heard and understood each other. We did not let the man dominate the conversation, despite his natural tendency to do so. How we balanced the woman’s reward/punishment power of control over their future interactions was by asking questions and reality testing. If they still had financial arrangements between them (which is what they were agreeing to), would it really be possible to never see him? What would make her feel safe and comfortable if they see each other in the future?

Balancing power is an important part of mediation. It is a skill that mediators must cultivate. Since there is so much variability in types of power and how it is wielded, mediators must be very observant and flexible in how they use this skill. Without balancing power, a mediation like the one that I did the other day would not have resolved. The parties would not have been able to get closure on their relationship and move forward and likely would not have been satisfied with the mediation.

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LinkedIn: Empowered Communication LLC

Facebook: @empoweredcommunication


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elected officials mediating

Blog Entry #3 Mediation Between Elected Officials in Conflict

June 25, 2019

Washington State has passed SB 5560, a bill mandating that elected and appointed officials and judges in conflict use mediation before turning to lawsuits. This will save taxpayer money and will enable elected officials to save time and save face. We look forward to mediating these cases.



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LinkedIn: Empowered Communication LLC

Facebook: @empoweredcommunication


#empoweredcommunication #mediation

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Blog Entry #2 Communication After Divorce

June 1, 2019

*Please note: Details from the mediation mentioned below have been changed here in order to protect the clients' confidentiality.


We did a mediation recently for a couple who’d been split up for several years. The woman wanted to update the parenting plan for their kids and attempt to open communication with her ex. They had not been communicating for quite some time. The man had remarried, and his new wife acted as gatekeeper. The woman had to go through the new wife in order to reach her ex-husband. She only tried contacting him for issues concerning their children. He never responded in any way. It was very uncomfortable for the mother to talk to the new wife who had taken her place, so her attempts at contact dwindled. This put the kids in the position of being the go-betweens for their parents. This isn’t a good place for a child to be.


One of the things that happens when couples break up is that they invent stories in their minds about what’s happening at the other’s house since they’re not there to see for themselves. Sometimes, these stories are based purely upon their imaginings; sometimes they are based upon what the kids say. The children are in an inappropriately powerful position as go-between. They may tell the parent what they think he or she wants to hear, or they may portray things in a way that suits their own agenda. You can’t blame them for this. They are simply trying to learn how to navigate through the murky waters of their world.


The dad in this case had himself convinced that the mom was still trying to hang onto him despite his having remarried; also, he thought she wasn’t treating their children very well. There were misconceptions which could have been very easily cleared up with a phone conversation. This became clear when they discussed them in mediation. We created a way for them to communicate going forward. After all, they are both going to be parenting their children until they’re grown and on their own. In most cases, even though you broke up and don’t want to be part of each other’s life, if you have children together, you will still need to communicate for issues concerning the kids. Communication is key in all relationships, whether a couple is still together or whether the only continuing relationship is one of co-parenting.


www.empoweredcommunications.org

LinkedIn: Empowered Communication LLC

Facebook: @empoweredcommunication


#communicationafterdivorce

#empoweredcommunication

#mediation

Our Blog


Blog Entry #1 Introduction to Empowered Communication

February 13, 2019

We would like to introduce to you a new business we’ve initiated in Yakima County – Empowered Communication. We do Mediation, Training, Facilitation, and Coaching aimed toward improving communication skills, resolving conflict between people, and helping clients achieve self-actualization in order to succeed in their work and home environments.


Our team has combined experience in mediation of 13 years and over 500 cases, in training and facilitation of 38 years, and in coaching of 16 years. We have the flexibility to provide services whenever and wherever needed; we have the ability to schedule services in an expedited fashion and at very affordable rates; and you can be sure that whenever you use Empowered Communication, you can depend upon receiving services from very highly experienced and award-winning practitioners.


Empowered Communication’s services can be tailored to your needs and can be provided in English or Spanish.


Let us help you improve your communication skills, resolve your conflicts, and achieve self-actualization and success. Check out our website or call, text, or email us for more information or to set up an appointment.


Felicia Staub

(509) 654-6379

[email protected]


Gabriel Muñoz

(509) 830-5351

[email protected]

www.empoweredcommunications.org

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Empowered Communication
PO Box 269
Yakima, Washington 98907
(509) 654-6379

(509) 830-5351

[email protected]

[email protected]

Click Here to Add a Title

Click this text to start editing. This block is great for showcasing a particular feature or aspect of your business. It could be a signature product, an image of your entire staff, an image or your physical location, etc. Double click the image to customize it.