The Closer

A Mediation Newsletter August 2014

Mediation Exhaustion
by James Rainwater

As we know from experience, a difficult mediation can be taxing on our minds and bodies. Not only are negotiations time-consuming, they are also takers of energy - mental, physical, and emotional. These phenomena are not limited to any one participant and are equally likely to affect the mediator as well. How we prepare ourselves for the next task can have wide repercussions.

According to research conducted by the National Institutes of Health on data from this past decade, Americans do not receive adequate amounts of sleep. The NIH suggests that adults need between seven and eight hours of sleep per day. However, nearly 30% of those adults surveyed reported an average of six or fewer hours of sleep each day.

The Institute of Medicine released data from adults who self-reported sleep-related difficulties from the same time period. During their day-to-day routines, those surveyed had the following problems: 23.2% with concentrating on things; 18.2% with remembering things; 10.5% with taking care of financial matters; and 8.6% with performing paid or volunteer work.

We see these sleep-deprived examples every day: Attorneys yawning in court, jurors nodding off, judges needing an espresso or two. Mediators are not exempt. Mediating back-to-back conferences is grueling work and mentally exhausting. A bleary-eyed facilitator may not convey the sense of confidence that both counsel and clients need to see at the conference table.

From mediator, to counsel, to client, most of us need a proper amount of sleep in order to function closer to our regular daily abilities. Scheduling a mediation conference after a three-day trial is probably not the most beneficial thing to do. Likewise, a mediator in the afternoon may be over-exhausted by the middle of a second highly contentious divorce matter on the same day. As professionals, we all need to function at our peak levels. Proper sleep patterns and realistic scheduling make for optimal effectiveness and will ultimately help to achieve better results for the clients.

Rainwater Law