“In mediation, try listening, it is not just a matter of you presenting a logical argument, there is more to it. You have to explain to the other side why it is to their benefit. Put yourself in their shoes.”
Gregory Garner started his legal practice in 1987 and retired three years ago. He stated, “I have always wanted to do mediation. It had been an interest of mine since law school.” In fact, negotiation was one of his favorite classes. It was one that incorporated mediation, arbitration, and litigation. His career took him to work with large and small-scale firms, technology-based companies, and later on after retirement, volunteer work as a mediator for local courts. However, early on in his career, he recognized that his legal background within the context of Rotary and mediation presented several challenges. He stressed that lawyers are trained to bring forth a logical framework into a dispute. However, this logic is not necessarily helpful when one is mediating.
Greg has highlighted, “sometimes logic is not necessarily the thing that is driving the dynamics of negotiation and that is what I have mainly learned in mediation training.” Furthermore, he recognizes that in some ways his legal training may even act an as impediment to his mediation work. However, his level of self-awareness on this matter has elevated his mediation efforts towards a proactive path. Often when he works with others in this field that have yet to develop their listening skills, he finds it challenging for them to separate themselves from the supposed “truth.” He references Karl Popper’s often cited quote, “the aim of argument should not be victory but progress.” Thus, the goal of mediation, according to Greg is progress therefore, in 2019; he started his own company providing mediation services in Colorado. He highlighted, “one of the reasons I really like mediation is that I am not on either side. I listen as hard as I can. I do have in my mind a sense of fairness.”
Leadership, Rotary, and MBBI
Before joining MBBI, Greg had been a Rotarian since 2005. He was the former President of the Rotary Club in Wheat Ridge, Colorado and has now started his first year as Treasurer. He has worked on past Rotary projects in Zimbabwe and the Philippines as well as in his home town. Though Rotary is going through several changes in light of COVID-19, he has been part of helping form a Satellite Rotary Club and says, “I think it is an exciting time to be a Rotarian.” Greg’s vision is to strengthen Rotary’s own mediation efforts within its own clubs and initiatives. Therefore, MMBI plays a key role. He stated, “I became acquainted with MBBI in a Rotary Convention in Atlanta and was fascinated by the prospect of being involved in an international organization like MBBI.” He believes there is a lot of potential for MBBI to expand and continue growing. In his own practice, he has pushed the concept of “relationship building,” emphasizing that relationships in some mediation platforms give one a base to build off and seek greater cooperation among people.
Article by Elizabeth Gamarra, MBBI Writer