The field of mediation has begun to use Emotional Intelligence training for lawyers doing conflict resolution, negotiation, and mediation.

mediation and negotiationIt seems like a natural fit; mediation and emotional intelligence, but until recently the field has been slow to embrace EQ. All that is changing with the publishing of scholarly articles in journals such as “Dispute Resolution” and “International Comparative Jurisprudence”. This June the Connecticut Bar Association held a session titled, “Mediating With Emotional Intelligence: Why ‘IQ’ Just Isn’t Enough,” presented by Matthew Argue and Harold Coleman, Jr.  senior vice president for mediation at the American Arbitration Association (AAA) – the global leader in dispute resolution services worldwide. 

The opening of this profession to the world of EQ trainers and coaches provides opportunities to influence a whole field and to provide useful tools and resources to those seeking to incorporate EQ in a specific way in their legal practices.

Consider how emotions figure into highly charged legal disputes. Mediation can fail because the individuals in conflict do not understand their own feelings and what is motivating their actions (Know Yourself).  Similarly, often the mediators lack the emotional literacy to read the emotions of their clients and figure out the reason behind an impasse.mediation

In a study published in the journal, International Comparative Jurisprudence, authors Edward J. Kelly and Natalija Kaminskienėb explore examples of why emotional intelligence could have helped prevent the breakdown of the mediation process. In one case, a couple going through a divorce who had agreed on some potentially difficult things such as child support and division of property. But when it came to who got the family pet, a heated fight erupted which caused mediation to end, and an expensive and acrimonious legal battle to begin.

What would have happened if the lawyers had been trained in emotional intelligence and could address emotions and help their clients negotiate from a different perspective? 

“Lawyers typically believe that consistent, reasoned, objective, and rational decision-making is cornerstone of any dispute resolution processes.” – Edward J. Kelly

But increasingly, the field is taking a different approach and incorporating emotional intelligence into law school courses.

To learn more about this study, read the abstract here: IMPORTANCE OF Emotional Intelligence in NEGOTIATION AND MEDIATION by Edward J. Kelly

“The glue that holds people together in a team, and that commits people to an organization, is the emotions they feel” 

Daniel Goleman

Tell Us Your Story of EQ in Legal Settings

If you are a certified coach, what has been your experience working with the legal field? How have you seen EQ work in conflict resolution or mediation settings? What has been your experience working with lawyers and judges and others in mediation? Share your stories and cases with us (in comment section) and we’ll write them up in a follow-up post.

If you are in the legal mediation field and you’d like to learn more about how to bring training and certification courses to your firm, see our Six Seconds assessments page. 

We also have resources on certification courses HERE for those wanting to get trained in this field.

Watch this Ted Talk on Conflict Resolution

Read the Connecticut Law Tribune article: Emotional Intelligence and Neuroscience: The Legal Profession Catches Up?

Rachel Goodman

Peabody Award-winning broadcaster and communications professional, editor, producer, and writer for effective outcomes. Ms. Goodman has been a radio producer for much of her career, specializing in short features and documentaries. Some of her work includes Southern Songbirds: the Women of Early Country Music, Pastures of Plenty: A History of California's Farmworkers, and The Boomtown Chronicles: Reflections on a Changing California. Ms. Goodman teaches journalism at Cabrillo College in Santa Cruz County. Her goals are to facilitate positive change in the world through effective communication, and to continue conducting her work with the highest level of integrity possible.