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Are You a Three-Legged or Four-Legged Antelope?

Ah, Ha!I have, over the course of recent years, experienced an incredible “Ah, ha!” understanding!

This follows 25 years professional experience as a psychologist and as an interest-based, conflict resolution consultant, facilitator, and trainer in the private and public health sectors.

3LeggedAntelope08-08-14 I have, since 2013, experienced an additional personal transformation!

— from a kind of “three-legged antelope,” struggling sometimes to keep up with the rest of my herd,

4LeggedAntelope08-08-14

into a four-legged being with greater prowess, understanding, and options

— more often leading my pack these days!

In 2013, I was provided a reminder and deeper personal understanding that lack of ready and affordable access to the legal system provides a serious practical problem that wastes many people’s time, energy and resources in our incredible Democratic Republic.

Then I was provided a personal solution

About 80% of North American citizens, including me up until 2013, typically exercise only three of their four basic conflict resolution options amidst their inevitable experiences of  “normal conflicts” with other individuals, businesses, and institutions.

They try to

WorkItOutDukeItOut

(1) work it out. 

If that doesn’t work, they may feel like they want to

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(2) duke it out, or at the very least physically or behaviorally control the other. 

Or they may

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(3) seek to avoid, out of frustration.  

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These three options are not sufficient, by themselves.

Rights-BasedResolutionsEqualJusticeUnderLaw

Unfortunately, their fourth option, that of taking a rights-based approach to resolution, is viewed by many as beyond their economic grasp.

To many people’s dismay, the color of “Equal Justice Under Law” is green.  And if the other party is an organization, then, “The other party has deeper pockets, no?”

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Attorneys, in most cases, cost too much.

☞  I am pleased to report, this is no longer the case for me

Briefly consider with me everybody’s four basic conflict resolution options.

1. Work It Out, when You Can

SupportValuedPersonnelFor the most part, people first try to work things out.  Indeed, it can sometimes be interesting and I dare say even enjoyable, in addition to validating, to be able to work things out with others. 

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Working things out with the other party through communication is known as “interests-based” conflict resolution ((Ury, Brett & Goldberg, 1988, Getting Disputes Resolved, Jossey-Bass Publishers).  Interests-based resolution of differences tends to enhance trust between people, increase satisfactions, and to produce durable agreements. 

In general, this is where most people in our North American society are likely to want to operate, and therefore try to operate.

Fortunately, most of the time we can work it out.  “Pardon me” or “Please listen to me” or “Please explain” most often works.  Again, people can actually appreciate working things out with each other.

But all human relations are not so simple, are they?  

Conflict resolution takes time, effort, attention — with the results hanging in the balance.  It can be very stressful, as well.

We all know that it is not uncommon for conflicting parties to at times believe they have not, and perhaps may never, reach a satisfying agreement with the other party. 

Common examples include:

  • disputes with venders,

  • landlord-tenant disputes,

  • moving traffic violations (tickets),

  • family estate management concerns (for example, family members challenge your parent’s will),

  • IRS audits,

  • and the like.

These conflicts can naturally develop during the course of normal life events — for any of us.

What then?

2. Duke It Out? Exert your control!DukeItOut

An opposite response to “working it out” is wanting to “duke it out.”

By “duking it out” I mean a power-based approach to resolve conflict.  Under these circumstances, “Might makes right.”  

This is also a fact of life.  Both bullies and heroes exist, in personal, corporate, and international affairs.  

And yet a return to the “Wild West” is not generally viewed by most parties as moving forward.  Indeed, modern civilizations place increasing restrictions on the use of violence between conflicting parties, promoting nonviolent means, instead.

Also, when you are an individual and the other party is a company or institution with deep pockets, a power-based approach may well represent a futile effort on your part.

Do we — as individuals, family members, and business owners — have additional options?

3. Avoid — pretend it does not exist.

Focus-BlindSpot

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The problem with avoiding is that the conflict and its effects upon at least some of those involved still do exist.  

Forgiveness might be an option, but sometimes is not enough.  

Sometimes a search for justice is required.  But who’s version of “justice”?

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LegalSystem4. Enter the legal system.

Legal systems have become a foundation of every modern civilization today.  A legal system provides a process for approaching “fair and just” resolution of conflicts when parties cannot do so amongst themselves.

 Legal systems were formed, time and again, as civilizations have developed over time.  The process involved participants debating the merits of their case in front of a judge, to enable that judge to make a fair and just decision.  The result over time was to establish greater clarity, reliability, and “fairness” to the conflict resolution process and outcomes — and in particular by establishment of codified (written) legal precedent.  Over time, these legal systems would set standards and establish legal precedence for “fair” and “just” resolution of conflicts of myriad types, encountered generation after generation among community participants.

EqualJusticeUnderLawThis led to clarification of the concept of legal rights and of “rights based” conflict resolution. 

As a result, legal systems have been and continue to be  continuously refined through the years, in the attempt to provide clearer and more reliable processes for seeking “fair and just” conflict resolution among disputing parties, based upon the development of precedent within codified systems of law.  

To be truly tailored to the circumstances, “one size” does not necessarily “fit all.”  

The complexities of human life has led to many categories or areas of law to attempt to cover the full range of human circumstances within which conflicts can and do evolve.  This is the reason for the development of at least 21 different kinds or specialties of legal practice over time. 

KnowYourRightsMaslow's Hierarchy of Needs (5 colors simple)

This development of our understanding and awareness of human rights has supported our additional understandings of both universal and individual human needs and interests, in the form of basic civil or human needs and therefore “legal rights,” amidst the rumble and tumble of living and human commerce.

There is a big problem, though.  This problem comes in the form of an economic bottleneck affecting 80+% of our population.  

Because legal expertise requires extensive training, it has become a pricey professional service.  Only the upper 10% in financial status are readily able to afford legal counsel across as many different specialties of legal practice as might be needed,without it becoming a cost impediment to their day-to-day operations.

Bottleneck

For 80+% of our country’s population, the hiring of an attorney is a significantly expensive proposition — often too expensive amidst other immediate considerations.  The result is often failure to think about, let alone employ, an attorney.

Imagine the daily impacts of this economic fact:  

  • WhatDoWeDo?Parents die, leave son or daughter to be executor of their estate, and offspring are unclear as to how to proceed.

  • Last Will and Testament has not been completed or updated, leaving surviving family members and the state to battle over the deceased family member’s estate.

  • A merchant refuses to honor a guarantee, leaving you no apparent recourse except at your own expense.

  • Unexpected extra charges by community vendors, leaving you no satisfying recourse.

  • DistrustThe signing of contracts with vendors or other parties without first getting them reviewed first by one’s own attorney — this in spite of the fact that the document has been created by the other party’s attorney to protect the other party’s interests.

  • Failure to receive payment for work or services performed; what to do?

  • Receiving a speeding ticket (guilty or not); now what?
  • Trusting realtor-recommended legal counsel, rather than your own, when buying or selling your home.
  • QuestionedByPoliceWhat to do if your teenager is accused of shoplifting?
  • How do you best protect your interests if you decide to adopt?
  • What if your dog bites a passerby?
  • What if you are subpoenaed?
  • What if your son or daughter is injured in a sporting event?

Failure to understand one’s own rights in an unfamiliar situation can lead to disastrous results. 

Inability to interact with one’s own legal counsel, due to inaccessible high cost, is a problem faced by 80+% of the population.  

Whether you are keen to recognize this about yourself or not, there is a good chance this includes you.  Know it or not.

As a result, you and many other participants within our North American society,

including many of your partners or fellow employees,

can end up feeling more frustrated and polarized in your experiences and viewpoints than need be.

This can occur quite naturally when you find yourself sometimes “bouncing around” amidst numerous unsuccessful and time-consuming attempts to reach an agreement, or to assert healthy control, or to simply ignore the issue.

Lack of trust, lack of success, continuing frustration, and even continuing trepidation, can be commonly associated with such circumstances.  

UnfortunateConsequences

The impacts upon participants, in terms of both tangible and intangible stressors, can become severe.  Negative impacts can be emotional (stressed), intellectual (distracted, confused), behavioral (poor choices, accidents), and physical (medical)

Amidst the many historic struggles of many of our ancestors seeking to settle increasing numbers and kinds of conflict without resort to violence, the economic bottleneck that has emerged prohibits a majority of people from reliably and regularly taking advantage of the rights-based process.   

Inability to actually secure “equal justice under law,” because of lack of affordable access, has direct negative ramifications for the majority of our population who are not in the county club sector.  This negatively impacts our society as a whole.  

North American businesses are included in the collateral damage that results.

MoreDaysOffLessPresence@WorkEmployees take more time off work; Employees exhibit less presence and attention on job;WorkplaceAccidentsEmployeeStress&Turnover

Employees portray less reliable performance on the job;

Rising safety problems;

More accidents.

Higher turn-over.

The result is less cost-effective employee engagement and higher personnel costs; higher employer expenses for less productivity; less competitive business operations.

A Solution in the Making?

LawFirmNetworkA company, founded and headquartered in Ada, OK, has developed a proprietary legal service over the past forty years comprised of a network of vetted major law firms held to an exacting standard of customer service.  This networked system of vetted law firms now exists across 49 states of the United States and four provinces of Canada.  1.2 million customers pay a modest monthly fee, which is pooled to pay for their particular legal services when needed.  It works much like health and car insurance. 

However, in contrast to health and car insurance, where more requests among consumers for services lead to higher fees, additional requests for legal consultations are encouraged among these legal plan consumers, because such actions typically lead FinancialSavingsto simpler and more cost-effective legal actions.  These legal actions are protective and preventive and typically lead to immediate cost savings for the member, in addition to peace of mind.  Plus, an education can be received in the process, if desired by the member. 

The results are financial savings that greatly exceed the modest cost of the legal plan membership, increased understanding, plus greater peace of mind.  Modeled after a solution developed years earlier and now used extensively in Europe, the legal services are pre-paid.  The law firms are focused upon serving their customers, rather than contracting with and billing their customer. 

To expedite your access to our society’s rights-based system, without impediment of high cost, requires a novel approach — something better than the status quo.  

You and/or your employees’ ready and affordable access to our society’s legal system would likely have significant positive impacts upon your business operations, such as:  

  • Less employee stress.
  • Decreased time off work.
  • Increased presence, without distraction, on the job.
  • Fewer accidents.
  • Better decisions.
  • And enhanced gratitude toward their employer.

ImproveWorkforcePresence

A top-notch legal plan providing affordable access to legal counsel, for matters big and small, will undoubtedly positively effect you.

If widely adopted by the employees of your firm, your company’s culture, your company’s performance, and your company’s image in the minds of key stakeholders will rise.

This is not rocket science.  This is basic human and business fact.

Learn more at our independent associate website

How has access, or lack, to legal counsel impacted you in both your work and play?

How important is legal counsel to your personal or business operations?

How valuable would it be to have the security of ready and accessible top quality legal counsel for you and your family members, when needed, to address inevitable and challenging family life events, without the impediment of cost?

What specific company benefits might you see if your employees were less distracted by life events and more secure because of their access to rights-based legal counsel?

We welcome your comments to our blog, below.

Until next time, my very best.

~Norman

One Comment

  1. Ping from Peace of Mind for Peak Performance” (Part I) | Business Culture Solutions LLC:

    […] Are You a Three-Legged or Four-Legged Antelope? August 8, 2014 […]

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