The office calendar said our team meeting had been bumped by a mediation session. What? We take monthly team meetings pretty seriously around here. It’s not enough to just crank out letters, subpoenas and agreements. We talk (rather than make assumptions) about our purpose as a firm, ask how we can improve efficiency and provide better care for our clients. We share what we appreciate about one another, ask for help where we need it. Whenever a client has been kind enough to send a kudo about one of our team members, it’s always meaningful and we share it one another. We need those to keep us going some days!calendar-e1438780917967

I wondered if (assumed that?) the importance of these meetings had gotten lost or other members’ commitment to setting aside the time had been discounted and ignored. I knew that wasn’t likely. That’s just not our culture.  But the truth is—despite what I believe about good communication and conflict principles–I considered jumping to those assumptions as the likely best explanations.

But…I would have been wrong. I inquired and learned that our team meeting time had been offered to mediation clients but not reserved on the calendar. So when the clients confirmed, of course, we needed to honor that and bump our team meeting. Sure, it helped us remember that tentative appointments should be marked out on the office calendar. But it certainly didn’t reflect a casual disregard of the importance of our team’s work. And more importantly, it was a reminder of two Conflict as Catalyst principles:

  1. Assumptions are only that. They never = the whole picture. 
  2. Catalyst is possible when you talk and talk early. Not, “Why in the world did you do x?” kind of way but in a “I noticed x and wonder how that happened? kind of way.

This is a crazy, crazy time right now. Election, holiday stress, and airport hassles. Don’t add to problems by making assumptions rather than talking. Start with, “I want to understand…” and then give yourself the gift of checking your assumptions, then talk it over, and save the stress.

Wishing you wisdom,



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Berecz and Associates PLC | Attorneys, Mediators, Collaborative Lawyers | Grand Rapids, MI | Saint Joseph, MI

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