Preparing for the Unpredictable: The IBA-VIAC CDRC Vienna – Konrad Hajdus
Being a part of CDRC means stepping into the world of one of the most vibrant, intense and cultivating competitions. In a business-driven society, we all want to make sure that we possess the ability to effectively lead a negotiation or mediation in order to achieve more or less mutual gains. Therefore, the participation in CDRC is at first (at least in most cases) caused by the sheer desire to gain necessary skills and to achieve a resounding success. However, the first thing that you learn in Vienna is that this competition is not only a place of intense training and workshops in the mediation field. What you realise is that you become a part of a fully international community which allows you to establish contacts with people from completely different places and to confront yourself with ideas, perceptions and values through a cross-cultural platform. This amazing experience will give you enough adrenaline and motivation to perform at your best. Nevertheless, in addition to the social and cultural aspects, another main element reigns; the one of competitiveness.
Throughout this article, I am hoping to provide you with a few hints on how to prepare and participate in CDRC so as to get the most out of it.
Think about the progress
The unfortunate problem of loads of mediations is that you have two sides of a dispute that not only represent different views but also come with completely different strategies and approaches. The underlying assumption on which many of us build their cases is the like-mindedness of the other team, namely that the other side will behave in the same way as we would. However, the fact that you want to make an agenda does not mean that the other side will be fully eager to do so. This means that in every session you may end up arguing over completely irrelevant points instead of solving the most important ones. This situation can be avoided during the preparation stage by asking yourselves where the particular strategy leads you. If you can identify potentially unproductive moments by anticipating the other side’s reaction, then you can better control the session by focusing on another point. Getting stuck is the worst that can happen to you so avoid it as much as you can.
Think what you say
You have already heard lots of mediation phrases that sound really nice and that are used in order to ease the situation while giving you additional points. Think carefully before using them. Mediation phrases are catchy and ice-breaking but only as long as you use them naturally. Using them in completely irrelevant moments or even using them without a sheer belief that you really want to say this to the other side will only make you look artificial. I’m not saying that using them is wrong. However, only the best participants that I saw during the competition were able to use them naturally and this is only because they used them precisely when they needed to.
During the competition, each one of you will be assigned a role of either a client, a lawyer or a mediator. One of the most important things to remember is that you are as trustworthy and reliable as your character is. If you are a client, you cannot rely on your acting skills, you need to behave like one. Believe that you run a huge corporation and that you are responsible for the people that work for you, your own clients or maybe other actors that can be relevant for you firm. Think about how this person would react to a particular situation or proposition and aim to react as they would. Show that you understand your business and that you are fully aware of its strengths, its weaknesses and its areas that need improvement. The same applies to the lawyers and mediators. As long as you treat this as a role to play instead of a real-life situation you will never be able to create the best impression.
Trust your intuition
You have probably spent hours on the case and you are going to spend even more. You are going to know it almost by heart and be ready to react to every information that you get. As long as this is true you need to trust your instincts during the game. If the other side asks you a question that you did not expect, it is less probable that they know the case better than you but rather that they use their confidential information or pursue their strategy. Do not be afraid to ask back and inquire more (both as a negotiator or a mediator). This only shows your active listening skills which are one of the most desirable features in this competition and in real life. It is always better to assume that the other side got some information that you do not possess than that you lack preparation.
This may be the less relevant advice that you can get or it seems as such but you might change your mind later on. Your days in Vienna will be full of exciting and intense events which might drain your energy. As much as we are all young and energetic it is really nice to come back to have a shower after the entire day of mediations without sacrificing your precious time to get to the other side of the city. Living as close as your budget allows you will be a huge comfort and will make your lives a bit easier.
Having written all of that I must say that CDRC will probably be one of the most amazing events of your student hood. Use this opportunity to meet as many people as possible, visit the city, and well…enjoy!
Konrad Hajdus is a law student at Jagiellonian University and politics student at University College London. He participated in the 2 nd edition of CDRC Vienna as a negotiator. Vicemaster of Poland in parliamentary debates and an active member of the debating society in Cracow. Vividly interested in mediation as a mutually beneficial and fascinating way of dispute resolution. He would like to pursue this method as it glorifies talking to people instead of punishing them.
published May 22, 2017