Over the years I have gathered some insights about how most effectively I can assist people to resolve their disputes with each other, and I now use them as a mediator. So I thought I would share them with our 2 Paragraphs Family, with the request that they further be shared with students of junior high school age and beyond. Why? Because they should help give some perspective especially to younger people as they begin to face life’s problems. So here are some of my thoughts:

  1. Most human problems cannot be solved; they can only be resolved. For example, if someone drives a car through a red traffic light, hits you and breaks your arm, the solution would be not to have had your arm broken. But we can’t do that. All we can do is utilize an artificial resolution, probably by requiring the offender to pay you some money. Then both sides can put this behind them and get on with their lives. And that is often a good lesson to learn about life in general.
  2. Whenever I begin talking to disputing parties, I tell them that today is voluntary. I am not in the position to try your case, make rulings or “do Justice.” So, understanding that you are the decision-maker, it is both your attorney’s and my job to give you recommendations to help you make a business decision in resolving the dispute. Accordingly, when I am with you I will focus upon your vulnerabilities. Why? Because it will help you to see the case realistically. But cheer up, when I am with your opposing parties I will focus upon their vulnerabilities. So it would certainly put a smile on your face to hear me talk with them, which you will not because it is confidential. But it would also put a smile on their faces to hear me talk with you, which they also will not because that is confidential as well. As a result, today I will probably make everyone unhappy with me, which is why I see myself in the Dissatisfaction Distribution Business. But you will like me more tomorrow when you wake up and realize that this dispute is now behind you.
  3. As a practical matter, what actually happened in your situation is irrelevant as far as trial is concerned! It doesn’t make any difference at all. The only thing that matters is what can be proved to have happened – and that is not always the same thing. So I know you had some conversations with the opposing parties, and I can tell you exactly what you said and what they said. And that is what the jury says all of you said. So “if you can’t prove it put it out of your mind” should really affect your decision-making in today’s mediation.
  4. When I was growing up my wonderful parents drummed it into my head that “God hates hypocrites.” Thus I never try to force litigants, or anyone else, to apologize for something they do not truly feel sorry about. They can always say they are sorry that the problems occurred, or sorry that they said something last week in anger, but only if they truly feel apologetic. Otherwise, it would be hypocritical for them to say they were sorry for something if they don’t mean it. And that is why I always try never to have an apology be a part of a settlement agreement – unless it is genuinely offered.
  5. In disputes involving family members or former or present friends there are often dynamics involved among them. So ask what their relationships had been and how the “train got off the track.” Frequently it can be something like “When I was 12 years old my sister lied to our parents about something she said I did. I couldn’t do anything about it back then, but now I’m going to get you!” But once that situation is brought out into the open, it often softly goes away.
  6. Also in disputes among family members I often ask, for example, if they loved their brother or sister while growing up. If the answer is yes, I ask if they actually still love them now. If the answer is also mostly a yes, I ask if they would agree simply to give that family member a hug right now in our reception area. I don’t want them to say anything, except maybe that they are sorry they have had problems between them, or something like that. About half of the time both parties agree to the hug. But when it happens the entire atmosphere changes – almost immediately and for the better, and those cases almost always settle. So never underestimate the value of a hug.
  7. So what about people who steadfastly believe that they are “in the right,” and any compromise would mean they had abandoned their integrity, etc.? That’s fine, and they are the decision-makers, so they have every right to go to trial. But what if you were fully to tell your story to the judge or jury, and then lose the case? How would you feel then? Wouldn’t it be better not to take the chance?
  8. Hey I have an idea, let’s give all of the money at issue to the attorneys! Because frequently that is the direction the parties are headed. Wouldn’t it be better to use that money now to help resolve the dispute so that you could avoid future expenses, both financially and emotionally?

There are more insights I have picked up over the years, but at the moment those stated above will have to do. I hope you find them helpful.

Quote for the week: “The most perfect technique is that which is not noticed at all.” Pablo Casals

Judge Jim Gray (Ret.) Superior Court of Orange County, California 2012 Libertarian Candidate for Vice President

Please listen to our radio show entitled All Rise! The Libertarian Way with Judge Jim Gray as we discuss timely ssues and show how they will be addressed more beneficially by employing Libertarian values and approaches. The series has concluded, but you can still hear any edition On Demand at And, by the way, these 2 Paragraphs columns are now on my website at, Facebook and LinkedIn at judgejimgray, Twitter at judgejamesgray, and wordpress at Please visit these sites for past editions, and do your part to spread the word about the importance of Liberty. In addition, my new book with the same title as my radio show is now available at, as is my wife Grace’s and my new novel centered about School Choice entitled 2030 KIDS: We are the Rising Heroes of the Planet. Please read and discuss them with your friends, and send in a review.