In just over a week, you may listen to an exceptional and educational interview about the adverse effects of the billable hour on your brain, your life, your clients. [Link to the program is now below.] And you will be able to phone in with questions and comments. The event is sponsored by Purposeful Planning Institute as part of its series of weekly teleconferences. Although these programs are for the organization's membership, you may obtain complimentary guest access by emailing Julie Dorosz. This interview will take place on March 1, at noon Eastern, 9 AM Pacific.
A description of the interview:
Join Hartley Goldstone, Dean of the Trustscape, interviewing world-renowned value pricing expert Ron Baker and Dean of Neuroscience and Reflective Practices Stephanie West Allen for a discussion of effects the billable hour has on our minds and brains, professional and personal lives, and client satisfaction. Among topics we will consider: when the billable hour becomes akin to self-induced OCD, why it can hurt your personal life, and how it causes multiple repercussions in relationships with clients. Baker will talk about an effective alternative to the billable hour which he has perfected over many years working with lawyers, accountants, and other knowledge professionals.
When a person affirms his or her deepest values, the process of conflict resolution can be easier, and often quicker. In fact, most other activities can be facilitated by affirming your values (what is called self-affirmation), whether it be running, or recharging, or writing.
However, for many of us, our habits can get in the way. We all have seen clients, friends, colleagues, and, yes, ourselves repeatedly or automatically default to a conflict mode. And, at the extreme, are behaviors such as addiction to indignation, a state that makes the resolution of a dispute very difficult. As we have discussed here before and as I talk about in my programs, those habitual behaviors, even the most extreme, can be changed and self-affirmation plays an essential role in that change.
Jeffrey says that when you practice mindfulness, you become aware of all the nonsense going on in your mind. You can then use this observation to make judgments about what you will allow to play out in your life.
“The brain is passive, the mind is active. The mind is the choices and decisions you make. You have to use the brain and the mind as a team. The brain puts out the call, the mind decides whether to listen.”
What is the role of self-awareness and self-reflection in effective conflict resolution? To hear a teleconference on that topic, click here. The title of the teleconference is "Inside Out: How Conflict Professionals Can Use Self-Reflection to Help Their Clients" and it features long-time mediator and lawyer Gary Friedman.
How can two or more people sincerely, earnestly, and confidently have such widely divergent versions of events? As mediators, we often have heard stories from parties in which the facts are conflicting and yet no one seems to be deliberately deceiving.
Research continues to show us our memories are malleable and pliant so we are not surprised at the inconsistency. For a good reminder of our memories' flexibility, take a look at "Remembering a Crime That You Didn’t Commit" (The New Yorker). Excerpt:
Shaw and Porter’s study also provides further evidence of the inaccuracy and malleability of human memory, evidence that is already compelling enough to have persuaded the state supreme courts of New Jersey and Massachusetts to mandate that judges instruct juries that eyewitness testimony is inherently unreliable. “Evolutionary theorists say memory is good enough—just good enough for us to survive and to reproduce,” Shaw told me. “But, at the very least, this research calls into question whether we should be putting so much weight on any memory in court”—especially in the absence of corroborating proof. ...
Journalists know that when they hear something from one source, they should corroborate it with independent sources before reporting it. The science of memory has taught us that our own memories are also unreliable sources, just as needy of corroboration.
Are so many mediators citing neuroscience these days because it is cool? Hot? Fashionable? I don't know. That the science being cited is often either inaccurate or not helpful to conflict resolution is sometimes a tad disturbing.
Although the book being reviewed is not about conflict resolution, a couple of the paragraphs are relevant to the proliferation of neuroscience in the dispute field . . .
This is where the book truly disappoints. Rather than simply giving us straight talk about how disorganized our thoughts and lives are (but we knew that) and how we can do better (tell us, please!), Levitin insists on informing us repeatedly and in detail about how various regions or pathways in the brain are “involved in” the various cognitive and behavioral phenomena he surveys. He really means that increased neural activity in these areas of the brain is correlated with certain behavioral and cognitive phenomena, which actually means only that such activity tends to occur at about the same time as the behavioral and cognitive phenomena. That is not saying much, which is why Levitin keeps implying more with that vague phrase, “involved in.”
University of Pennsylvania law professor Stephen Morse has dubbed this practice the “brain overclaim syndrome”—the pathological tendency to fool people into thinking you have a profound understanding of something by pointing to brain studies. It goes without saying that any distinctive thing we do—raising an arm, thinking of sheep or shouting, “Hooray!”—must be accompanied by some corresponding neural activity, but that does not explain the activity.
(Click to read the rest of the review.) How much is neuroscience being used today as a trendy camouflage of basic psychology or wisdom or common sense? What does brain science add to any of those three? Typically nothing or not much, in my opinion. What do you think? What has neuroscience brought us that has changed the practice of mediation?
When we recall something that occurred in the past, our recollection is not accurate like a video camera. Some if not much of our memory is fabricated. Our fuzzy, faulty memory has been covered before both at this blog and in many books and articles: the memory's shiftiness is by now notorious. So why I am writing about it again?
Even though I know about memory's tricks, I need a reminder frequently because it's so, so easy to forget that we forget; the fact that we re-produce, re-shape, re-construct our memories is simply forgotten. A very good reminder is this article from The Conversation titled "Serial: your memory can play tricks on you – here’s how" which I recommend to you. Excerpt:
It is also important to understand that memories are not constructed from precise records of what actually happened – but rather from records of what we experienced. Our perception is shaped by all sorts of things: our knowledge, our mood, the social context, our physical perspective, even our vocabulary (the language we have available seems to affect the way we encode and retrieve memories). But critically, the reconstruction process itself is also shaped by all of these factors.
Context and knowledge therefore provide a framework not only for encoding memories but also for retrieving them. And because both context and knowledge change over time, so can the memories.