FranklinSolutions offers:  mediation and conflict management services, and facilitation of important discussions


Jeanne Franklin
fax: 703.533.8977

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Franklin Solutions provides assistance to clients, be they individuals, businesses, or groups, by working with them to resolve their specific disputes through mediation, and by helping clients manage conflict so they can move forward productively. Conflict is inevitable; it surfaces in business as well as in so many other areas of human endeavor. Law suits are one form or stage of dispute. Also, dispute can exist more subtly, exerting a corrosive influence upon productivity.

Franklin Solutions helps clients to:  avert or resolve unnecessary conflict; minimize the harmful and costly effects of unresolved conflict by addressing it promptly; harness positive outcomes from substantive disagreement; and, from the clash of ideas and concepts, make new beginnings.


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When we are caught in a conflict, at work, in an organization or in personal life, we can become consumed by it, or take negative actions that cause damage. Or, we can try something more positive.

This blog has included numerous entries about the value of conflict resolution and problem solving, early in the game. Others have written about and urged the idea for years. But the message feels new. It is not yet "the norm." It should be.

On September 25, 2017,  Virginia's legal community (Virginia Bar Association and Virginia State Bar Joint ADR Committee) held a day-long program to look at how to serve the interests of 21st century clients and solve their problems effectively.

Well-known attorneys, experienced, smart problem solvers, facilitators, and mediators spoke to the question from multiple perspectives. They shared concrete experiences. 

Looking into his crystal ball, law professor Sam Jackson of North Carolina (a former Virginia mediator and legal practitioner), summed up the third wave - hopefully the coming norm - as being early communication and early intervention to handle conflict the most effectively (including cost considerations) and productively.

First, we saw the coming of arbitration/mediation (ADR) laws in the later 20th century; next, we saw newer lawyer counselling rules in Virginia at the dawn of the 21st century. Now, fully in the midst of the conflict-laden 21st century, we have the clarion call for early intervention and dispute management practiced together by clients and lawyer alike.

A retired Virginia Supreme Court Justice, Hon. Leroy Millette, emphasized the need for lawyers to talk with their clients early to discern their real needs and interests and then craft advice based on such information. Well-known Virginia attorney, Jack ("JB") Burtch, reminded lawyers of the ethical rules that direct how Virginia lawyers should communicate with and counsel clients. He gave example after example from his practice of how chasing down the needs behind the positions ended up helping the client choose the correct strategy that at first blush might not have seemed the obviously correct one.

Lawyers talked about the connection with clients, especially organizations and other groups, and how the lawyer can work to encourage clients to embrace early conflict management skills.

Protocols, competence, coaching, counselling, carrying it forward - just think of all the good that will come of it.

(As a postscript, if you google AllthingsADR, you can pull up good information about yesterday's sponsoring committee and the agenda and speaker lineup.)



Still Waters: Finding Answers

Fine leaders and dispute resolvers share a job and a skill in common. They must create enough sense of safety and reassurance for those experiencing tumult and upset. The job is to make space in which to hear, think, and evaluate.  Mediators are trained that reducing the effects of an overly stimulated amygdala is key to unlocking human potential to think analytically and problem solve. This is a neurological fact.

Fine leaders and dispute resolvers are also “neutral” in that we must control ourselves to serve not our personal interests but the common good - be it of corporation, family, or a country. It is a sacred trust. Others – our clients, our constituents, our stakeholders - depend on such a form of unselfishness.

In the America of January 2017, we are experiencing a kind of shock - there is more than a jumble of emotion including confusion, fear and anger. These can quickly become very destructive. Public hysteria must be averted. Information must be calmly and accurately presented in quiet ways so that people can receive it. Reaction and action must be based on a measure of correct information, some calm, wisdom, strength, and good will toward others, the public good.

There will not be agreement on all policy questions – we are a large and diverse country. But some things are settled. The Rule of Law is our bulwark in America. Ability to take in good information, using process, are foundational to hopes of recovering still waters and forward movement to discover and protect the public good. Legal process – our rule of law – facilitates our being able to do that.

Maybe as we are considering our responses, the populace shares with leaders and dispute resolvers this duty to recall that it is not “all about us.” It should be about the public good and the common ground. But how can we discern that if we cannot even talk to each other and hear each other?

What can each of us do to build space and dialogue, discern and serve the long term interests of our great country that we are so privileged to receive from our founders and all those who have brought it forward along the way?


Breaking Up

This post does not refer to romantic relationships. Instead, it reframes the role of the discussion facilitator, the neutral dispute resolver, the problem solver. In short, achieving break through can require breaking up.

It is not simply a case of the facilitator listening carefully and empathetically to each person involved in a conflict or conundrum although such attention paid is vitally important. (The listening is how we learn and model a learning attitude which can engender fresh ideas.)

The role also involves employing some strategically chosen techniques as necessary to break up log jams - be they presumptions, assumptions, prejudices - frozen, locked-in-place opinions - that thwart forward movement, that even may thwart needed forgiveness. 

It is shocking to many people (perhaps most of us) to think there is another way of viewing the world from our own view. It is equally shocking for such individuals to see themselves as narrow minded or prejudiced. It is "the other guy" who is intolerant, who is wrong, the problem, a barrier to new ideas - isn't it? These are common and honestly tended states of mind, not ill-intentioned ones. 

We neutrals cannot make persons want a result they don't want. We can't make a person see something differently or that at least there could be more than one way to view the world, the problem, the conflict. But we can try to convey the idea that there just might be more than one way of seeing the picture and that there just may be a shared interest in seeing more of the whole picture - not just one's own view of it - in order to come up with some solution to unpleasant or unproductive argument. 

Perspective is intriguing. Think of the classic example of the sketch that some see as a rabbit and some see as a duck. The sketch that some see as a beautiful, elegantly dressed woman and that others see as a gnarled, irritable old woman. If you walk for exercise, select a landscape view or two and note the appearance. Then come at the view, an object in the view, from another location or two to see what it looks like from different angles. Sometimes, we are surprised to see it differently. Entering a room from different doors can help us notice something we completely overlooked before. 

Checking several views of the same problem can be enlightening. It is not that our perspective will be proven wrong. It is that we might become able to see a way to accommodate more of each perspective without fully surrendering our own. The log jam is sprung free and ideas can flow.  

I close this with a wish for a satisfying and healthy New Year.