Judy Mares-Dixon, M.A., is well experienced in conflict resolution. Since 1986, she has been working in the dispute resolution field as a trainer, mediator, coach, facilitator, consultant, and dispute resolution systems designer. We are honored to have Judy return to CLE for our 40 Hour Mediation Training beginning on August 11, and are excited to present an interview with Judy.
CLE: Thank you for allowing us to interview you. First, what brought you to the field of conflict resolution?
Judy: I was working full-time as a contract negotiator for the state. I really enjoyed the high-energy interaction and the relationship with customers from around the state. I’ve always been fueled by negotiations. I found out that the City of Boulder was looking for mediators to help resolve landlord-tenant and neighbor-neighbor disputes, so I went through their training course — it’s similar to the 40 Hour course I teach at CLE — and absolutely loved it. I continued working full-time for the state and would mediate for Boulder’s program at night. Some nights, I would return home at 9 o’clock or later and could not sleep because I was so charged up from the excitement of the mediation. The interaction between people who start out so far apart, and their capacity to find intelligent solutions, is fascinating to me.
CLE: What is your favorite part of doing dispute resolution?
Judy: My favorite part is assisting people who have not been able to get through their conflicts to analyze their situation and come up with smart solutions. I love being able to effectively analyze situations and find the pros and cons of a variety of ideas and really assist people in finding the best solutions for everyone, especially in situations where one or more parties think it’s hopeless. I love really thinking about what it’s going to take to solve the problem.
CLE: How do you apply the techniques you teach to your day-to-day life?
Judy: There is always an exchange in business. My colleagues and I are always looking at our projects to decide who is going to do which project, whose skills match best with the job at hand, and we negotiate. I think one of the keys to being a successful mediator is that you have to walk the talk – it is critically important to the job. I work with a small number of associates and we’ve been together for several years. The reason we work so well together and have such a fun, respectful relationship, is that we all walk the talk. We expect high quality work — we expect perfection and are hard on ourselves — but we are good at what we do because we walk the talk. It’s critically important to success as a mediator.
CLE: You mentioned situations where one or more parties think it’s hopeless. Can you share with us a story of a conflict that seemed impossible that you helped resolve?
Judy: I once did a mediation for five physicians who co-owned a practice. Two of the physicians were very senior and three were very junior — new to medicine and new to the practice. Three of the physicians had serious conflicts with each other. There were concerns as to whether everyone was doing their fair share — bringing enough business and revenue to the practice, contributing the right amount. They came to me because they were not sure if they should try to work together or if there should be a buy-out of some of the partners. They felt hopeless and frustrated to say the least — they weren’t getting what they wanted from one another. Ultimately, they decided to stay together in the practice. We developed a monthly evaluation tool so the partners could evaluate who was bringing in revenue and how the work load was shared.
One other thing they were quick to identify was how poorly they responded to conflicts. Three of them would duck and run, one would try to bring the issue to the table, and the other would get aggressive. We worked out a plan for how they could address their concerns when conflicts arise in the future, and expected time frames for resolution of future conflicts.
CLE is honored to have Judy return for our 40 Hour Mediation Training. Join us on August 11, 12, 13, 18, and 19 for our 40 Hour Mediation Training with renowned mediator Judy Mares-Dixon. To register, click the links below or call (303) 860-0608.