We are soooooooooo dependent upon our technology during this pandemic. Most of my communication with co-workers and attorney-colleagues is through email and text.
Even phone calls with my smart phone (which sometimes seems too smart… like creepy smart) have become complicated when I use my Bluetooth earpiece and it seizes the call whether I want it to or not.
At my house, I play music using “Hey Google” and I joke that you need an Engineering degree to turn on the television.
Just like the rest of the world, mediation and arbitration have become even more dependent upon technology during the pandemic.
We are mediating and arbitrating using ZOOM, attaching special cameras to our computers and learning all about Breakout Rooms and Chat Boxes. Which is honestly great – I love learning new things and trying them out on unsuspecting victi … uh, I mean attorneys.
But what happens when our tools fail just as we are set to begin using virtual technology professionally?
This exact scenario happened to me. Ouch!
Recently I was the guest speaker on a Fastcase webinar discussing mediating during COVID-19. We ran a successful test a few days earlier, and I had proudly sent in my completed PowerPoint.
However, when we attempted to connect my video the morning of the webinar, my security settings were blocking the camera. Why? I don’t know, but it quickly became evident we had to do the webinar without my video.
This failure coming seemingly out of the blue and at the very last minute happens during virtual ADR too, which can be frustrating and counterproductive to the process.
It is particularly problematic if the mediator becomes angry or agitated on the digital platform, as the parties feel the tension and are less likely to reach a settlement.
So how do you handle technology glitches during virtual mediation?
First, check the easy stuff. Is everyone’s device working? Are they charged? Is spotty WIFI the problem? Has everyone downloaded and/or updated ZOOM? Can I use a phone to bring in the party with the problem?
If I determine the failure was caused by my device, I would offer to start my chargeable time later when we are all up and running.
Second, I would not lose my cool and move on to explore other options.
Can we reschedule? Can we move ahead without the person whose technology has failed? If this is the client, it can be an easy transition with the attorney agreeing to check in with the client as we progress.
Can we use their telephone or Facetime or even email information back and forth?
The key is flexibility and fluidity: Maintain a mindset of “How can I roll with this and make best use of everyone’s time?”
Many of my virtual mediations have used a combination of ZOOM, email, text messages and even phone calls. It’s amazing how creative you become and still find success.
So my webinar went on just fine with audio and PowerPoint slides and no video.
Here is the webinar link—do I sound flustered or was I able to keep my cool?