‘Those who make situations seem more complex than they actually are probably do not understand them well enough”

DATAThere are times when I really wished I had thought of something first. The above proposition which was conceived of by Vivek Garg MBA the Texas-based Business Lead and Analyst and published on Linked In is a case in point. I trust that he will not mind me looking at his very wise words from a mediation perspective.

Why do people make things more complex than they really are and is it because they probably do not understand them well enough?

In some instances the answer is simple. One person or another might be deliberately making something more complicated than it needs to be, possibly for nefarious reasons. In some situations, there might be a genuine lack of understanding based on ignorance or because of a lack of expertise, education or acumen. In others someone might deliberately behave in a dishonest manner and set out to deceive.

In other instances, the answer may not be so simple.

Very often, the actions or decisions that affect particular individuals and that they will have to live with and possibly even implement may have been made by other people with whom they have no obvious connection. The thought processes behind particular decisions may not be apparent or they may have been poorly explained. Many will have been made without proper consideration of the relevant facts or might be premised on highly subjective or political considerations that do not really have a wider application. The responsible person or organisation may not be contactable, may no longer exist or may have declined to assist or clarify. This could leave some innocent individual, possibly someone involved in a protracted dispute or court case, to try and make sense of things and distinguish “right from wrong” in very difficult circumstances.

When it comes to traditional forms of dispute resolution all too often things go wrong. Even in the context of costly or protracted court cases, those involved concerned do not always “start at the beginning”. Outcomes are often dictated by costs considerations and disillusionment caused by the inevitable lengthy delays. Instead of starting at the beginning, people literally “jump in” in the middle and confuse concepts such as “fact” and “need” or “preference”. Accordingly, confusion reigns and it can be impossible to separate fact from fiction or the relevant from the irrelevant. Feelings run high and at the end of the day, no one is really any the wiser.

And so to mediation. Not only does it address root causes but it goes to the very heart of the matter. Because it is conducted in a safe confidential, non-combatant environment where there is much less concern about cost, the mediation process helps to ensure that complex or long-standing disputes can be given the good long hard look that they might otherwise not get. Those who for one reason or another have either deliberately or unnecessarily complicated or subverted matters can be properly held to account. Equality of arms means that everyone has their say.

The net effect of the very thorough mediation process is that it is much more likely that bad decision-making will be exposed for what it is and that issues such as restitution or the offer of an apology can be looked at objectively and dispassionately.

Timely, very cost effective mediation is the very antithesis of over complication.

Accordingly, my response to Mr Garg’s very well stated proposition is to emphasise to readers that whether in the context of a high end commercial dispute, a family, medical or education dispute that possibly involves multiple parties or a “straightforward” neighbour or community dispute, the business case for an excellent mediation.

By Paul Sandford, Civil Mediator and Medical Trainer

‘Those who make situations seem more complex than they actually are probably do not understand them well enough”
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