Tag: injured workers

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness: Prism’s Mediation Approach

This month, Prism had the privilege of presenting about our mediation practice at the Louisiana Worker’s Compensation Seminar by Juge Napolitano. Because mediation is about so much more than just reaching a settlement, we thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to share some insights about our strategies and mindsets we use in the mediation room.

Among the many things we keep in mind is the idea of efficiency vs. effectiveness. 

Thanks to technology and the wonderful pandemic-inspired discovery of all that can be done remotely, the workplace is more and more geared towards efficiency. We not only want to get one thing done as quickly as possible, we also want to get 3 other things done at the same time.

While not an inherently negative aim, we often get distracted by efficiency and end up sacrificing effectiveness.

  • In mediation, this can look like rushing a case to closure, only to end up at a result that leaves parties feeling uninvolved in the outcome.
  • In our relationships, it can look like trying to engage in a meaningful discussion while one person is checking their email, which leaves both parties only 50% engaged in each task.
  • In our personal lives, it can look like taking a work call while we grill with a glass of wine and unwind after the day, which renders our efforts to relax quite ineffective.

Being efficient is great.

But being effective is often what matters more.

At Prism, we try to carry this mindset with us in mediations and in our lives outside of work, because we know that injured workers, insurance companies & businesses— like humans— ultimately want effective resolution. We can certainly be efficient and effective at the same time, but only if we’re cognizant of both and aim our efforts appropriately.

Alan & Sean at the Prism table in Dallas

Creation From Chaos: Lessons From the Mediation Room

In our role as mediators, we often meet people in their darkest moments. Due to a series of unexpected and unchosen events, their life has become unpredictable, unknown, scary, filled with phone calls and paperwork— in short— chaotic.

But all creation begins with chaos, and what a beautiful thing creation is to witness! It is messy and even counterintuitive, but we are honored to be next to people as they begin to create from this chaotic place in their lives. As we work with people through their chaos, we are ever amazed at the creativity and generativeness of the human spirit.

When we meet people with severe injuries and see the lives they are able to create for themselves and their loved ones despite the chaos swirling around them, we are reminded that so much of what we do is not about money. The value in mediation is about giving people a chance at the life that all of us want, and that chance begins by offering people a new perspective on the chaos before them.

Even outside the mediation room, the pattern of creation from chaos exists. Although chaos is uncomfortable and not often our chosen route, when we choose to approach it with a different perspective, things begin to change.

Long ago when Prism Group was just a seedling, “perspective” and “choice” were two of the largest guiding principles we knew we wanted to structure our practice around. We have long believed that by offering people a new perspective on their current circumstances, we empower them to then make a choice to move forward differently despite the circumstances remaining the same. We do not have the power to calm the chaos, but we firmly believe in our power to help people choose a better tomorrow by empowering them to create the life they want from within that chaos.

It’s often a challenging process, but it’s a very rewarding experience for all involved to witness the creation that springs forth from chaos when we choose to see our circumstances differently. It’s not always an easy job, but it’s work we’re proud to take a stab at in every case we get to see, and we always learn something about life from the work we get to do.

The mediation room teaches us so much about life and vice versa. What have you learned from your own work or your experience with us?

The Path to Resolution: At Work, At Home & In The World

Imagine…

A participating party refuses to make concessions about their case, although the path to a smoother, less stressful tomorrow is obviously in contradiction to what they say they want. How can they not see this?

It’s week 3 of your spouse lamenting about their latest struggles at work, and no matter what you suggest, you’re met with resistance. Why aren’t they at least trying to solve the problem?

The other side” wants to handle the problem this way, but that’s clearly ridiculous and makes no sense. How could they think this way?

Everyday— in the mediation room, at home, in the world— we are confronted with choices, beliefs and actions of others that we may not understand or agree with. And when others think differently than we do, it’s easy to conclude that “they” are blind, ignorant, careless, foolish. This labeling creates a distance between “us” and “them,” one that feels good, initially, because it assures us that it is not us who are “stupid” or foolish, it is “them.” We are the smart ones, the right ones, the ones who see clearly. If only “they” could think like us.

In maintaining this distance, we also maintain the subconscious belief that if those who disagreed with us would only come over to our side, things would be better, the problem would be solved, and all would be right. The greater the distance between “us” and “them,” the easier it is to maintain this belief.

We at Prism Group, though, believe resolution happens when both parties are willing to bridge that gap, to close the distance between “our side” and “the other side.” We believe resolution happens— at work, at home & in the world—when each side has the courage to walk towards the other in efforts to understand them.

Walking towards “the other” requires us to put our Egos aside, however. When we choose resolution, we must also choose to abandon our position and seek to understand another. We must choose to forego being “right” in exchange for moving forward in resolution together. Prism’s path to resolution is not about what each side wants, it’s about what both sides want: resolution. We believe resolution begins with an effort to understand “the other side”— at work, at home & in the world.

Why Mediation and the Value of a New Tomorrow

Prism Group - Why Mediation

“I am tired. And I need a better tomorrow.”

“You don’t understand, Mr. Jordan,” commented Mrs. Johnson. “I am raising a 13 and 9 year old grandson and granddaughter. This injury has turned my entire life upside down. I hurt all the time, I’m frustrated because I’m not making the same amount of money, and I’m still trying to raise these two kids as best I can. I’ve got to find a way to a ‘tomorrow’ that gives me a better quality of life than the ‘today’ of being stuck in this system.”

Injured workers and their families want something very simple: a better tomorrow. A physical injury and all of its challenges to daily life, coupled with the hoops and loops of the system create a “today” that is painful and frustrating for all involved.

This is not a “today” Mrs. Johnson wants to continue having.

All she wants is a better tomorrow; one that is vastly different from the string of “todays” she has been living for the last three years since her work-related accident.

The best path to this better tomorrow begins with relational trust. In mediation, as well as in life in general, carving that path starts with an understanding of the choices for “tomorrow”. Then, together, through discussion, information sharing, and relationship building, we narrow those choices into what best fits the situation.

There’s no magic to mediation. It is simply relational trust among people exploring options together, and the opportunity for them to ultimately decide what they want their tomorrow to look like.

After several hours, Mrs. Johnson made a decision that left her feeling as if her tomorrow would be different than it had been for many years.

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Relational trust.

Exploring options.

Choosing a better tomorrow.

That’s how the Prism Group does mediation.