Tom Crowley - Hawaii Mediator - Arbitrator - Attorney

Honolulu Hawaii Mediator - Arbitrator - Attorney




Tom Crowley

To be a leader in the resolution of your dispute, you need three things:

I.  VISION: Insight into the nature of disputes, and the ritual of negotiation.

II.  ACTION PLAN: A detailed program to implement the ritual of negotiation.

III.  SKILLS: How to use the ritual of negotiation  to reach agreement.


  1. All disputes are personal: emotions are the “first facts.”
  2. Each side has their own truth.
  3. Disputes take on lives of their own.
  4. The kind of life disputes take on is largely determined by the way we deal with them.
  5. By changing the process, or “ritual,” for dealing  with a dispute, we can change the dispute itself.
  6. The hidden power of a “good” ritual of negotiation is its ability to change the focus of the dispute from pistols to peace talks.


  1. Convene the parties to make things happen.
  2. Come prepared.  Determine the dispute’s

    (a) Issues (“What’s broken?”);
    (b) Positions (“Who’s to blame?”);
    (c) Interests (“What do we really want?”): and
    (d) Proposed Solutions (“What are we willing to do to end this      thing?”). 

  3. Brainstorm your negotiation strategy.

    (a) Anticipate the seduction of splitting the difference;
    (b) Determine:

    (1) an appropriate opening offer;
    (2) your target point (where you want to end up);
    (3) your final offer (the point beyond which you could      not respect yourself in the morning).

  4. Conquer the fear of the unknown by determining the information you hope to learn and reveal.
  5. Use the hidden power of the ritual of negotiation.


Act 1:  Talk Story

Use three things to bring the dispute back down to a conversation:

  • Listen,
  • Echo, and
  • Talk.
  1. Listen like a sincere friend.
    Everyone needs a good listening to.
  2. Echo back what they said. State what he or she really wants, and why he or she wants it.
  3. Talk about them.

People don’t care about what you care about until you show you care about them.


Act 2:  Exchange ideas for decision-making.

Reduce the fear of being taken advantage of by having the parties focus on 3 things:

  • Defining the issues in the dispute.
  • Sharing information about those issues.
  • Agreeing how to measure the information.

Ask 3 questions:

  1. What would you like me to do to reach agreement?
  2. What are you willing to do to settle this case?
  3. If I was willing to do some of the things you want, what things would you be willing to do?


Act 3:  Breaking Impasse:

What to do when you don’t know what to do.

  • Re-apply the ritual of negotiation to the issue creating impasse.  Conduct a “negotiation within a negotiation:”
    • Talk story about the specific impasse.
      • Head for the iceberg.
      • The emotional core of the dispute is hidden under the surface.
    • Exchange ideas for resolving the specific impasse.
  • Focus on the play, not the foul: It's the response to conflict that controls the outcome, not the first punch.
  • No joy in Mudville: Test reality.
  • You cut the pie, I’ll take the first slice: Change the measuring stick.
  • Be the creature:  Step into each other’s shoes.
  • Float possibilities: Tell a story about how similar
    situations have been resolved.
  • Use the 24-Second Clock: Create the crisis of a deadline.
  • Change the messenger: Use mediation.
  • Understand what’s lost in translation: “No” means “please rescue me.”
  • Beyond here be dragons: Tell them what the trial judge would probably do.
Hawaii Honolulu mediator
© 2006 Tom Crowley | Site Map | web design by Digital Palette