The Task Is Not Impossible

The Task Is Not Impossible
By Shashank Yadav

On Formlessness
“Life is warfare and a journey far from home.”
– Marcus Aurelius, Meditations

It is assumed that man, by his very nature, attempts to impose his will upon his environment and meets a resistance at some point leading to a conflict of interests. This is where he strategises to meet his goals, negotiates his interests, compromises his advances, or tries to neutralize the opposition altogether. The modern nation-states too are like the man, and therefore Cebrowski and Garstka have rightly remarked that they make war the same way they make wealth.
In 18th century, Pierre-Joseph Bourcet had conceptualized the war machine as something which flows. This fluidity, he had remarked, was essential and directly proportional to this machine’s maneuverability.
Discussions on warfare must begin with the minds that conduct the conflict. Though there are many aspects of the mind, the psychological property which concerns us most is Intelligence, for that alone primarily concerns displaying advantageous behavior over competition. Wars are won by superior decisions, and better intelligence breeds better decisions.
It is said that intelligence evolved in the ocean when a tiny bag of saltwater known today as a neuron, sparked of electric current upon facing danger. This meta-primitive event gives a very thorough insight into the phenomenon of war for it marks the beginning of the precarious relationship between hunting, warfare and survival, also producing an insight into the perpetuity of war.
Man fought with and alongside horses and elephants, and now he fights alongside machines. Hobbes had said, it is every man against every man. That is his nature after all, that of a competitive animal – from which arises the need to cooperate, giving him his social nature. This self-competing attribute also leads to the adaptive and evolutionary nature of his intelligence.
Assuming that war is the engine which makes the state, the state deploys a system using which it can execute this “formlessness” – or rather a system of systems that allows reconnaissance, manipulation, denial and retaliation. Very much how any self-preserving and self-interested entity would function.
War making is an existential enterprise and utterly devastating to say the least, but even man’s search for meaning goes a lot into why having meaning is important, he does not simply stop himself at the threat of destruction. The ruminations of military philosophers have taught us that the more destructive a military action the less strategic it is, to the extent that it is safely hypothesized that the art-and-craft of war lies in pursuing victory while causing minimum harm.
Formlessness, as some say, is the way that causes the least harm.

Exploring Mediation

Is going to court the best way out for any legal matter? Or, is there a better alternative? And how will the legal industry look like in the next 5 years?

Let’s find out in this special feature where Prerna Foundation and KyaBae come together, with our host, Parzaan Dastur interviewing Mr. Prathamesh D. Popat.

Blocks to Listening

It is common, when listening to someone else speak, to be formulating a reply whilst the other person is still talking. However, this means that we are not really listening to all that is being said.

Even good listeners are often guilty of critically evaluating what is being said before fully understanding the message that the speaker is trying to communicate. The result is that assumptions are made and conclusions reached about the speaker’s meaning, that might be inaccurate. This and other types of ineffective listening lead to misunderstandings and a breakdown in communication.

There are many things that get in the way of listening and you should be aware of these barriers, many of which are bad habits, in order to become a more effective listener.

Barriers and bad habits to effective listening can include:


What if Conflicts were not Bad?

Very interesting TedxTalk on Conflict. It deals with the question: What if Conflicts were not Bad?

It talks about mediation without labeling it.

The important shift from trying to manage people with the conflict to ensuring there is a process in place that allows your parties to be vulnerable!

The video dates from 2015, but it gives some interesting perspectives for workplace conflicts. How do you deal with conflicts?


Active Listening in Mediation

The object of active listening in conflict resolution is to acquire and demonstrate understanding of the other, which will serve as a basis for reaching joint decisions and resulting in resolving a conflict. In order to succeed in this, active listening has to focus on common problems in oral interpersonal communication. This presentation mentions the few ways in which active listening can be practiced and also deal with communication pitfalls during mediation.


Mediation/Arbitration: An Alternative to Litigation: “Workplace Sexual Harassment, #MeToo & Finding A Resolution Process”

#METOO Trends and Highlights

Cyber Bullying Abusement Harassment Trolling

IN the past few months social media and every industry has been a flooded with allegations of sexual harassment. The silence has been broken, and the once considered “too powerful” and untouchable are being “handled” and striped of their positions/power. Sexual harassment is not industry specific, it is not new and the skeletons in the Walmart-size closets are busting out. Here are some statistics from the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and news polls:

  • 75% of all workplace harassment goes unreported.
  • 30% of individuals who were harassed spoke immediately to their supervisor, unionrepresentative, managers or the Human Resource department.
  • “…sexual harassment training is easily mocked – and often brushed off…”
  • According to the Washington Post “between 1997 and 2014 the US Treasury” paid 235awards and settlements worth approximately $15.2 million for workplace violations on Capitol Hill.No industry is safe from sexual predatory behavior. And the behavior has been allowed to permeate the business/entertainment/ culture. Even the EEOC states that yearly training is not enough and is usually only focused on avoiding legal liability. After doing many EEOC mediations which lead to reviewing thousands of employment manual pages, state and federal rules, regulations, and policies, I am comfortable to say that there remains to be A LOT of work done if we wish to change the sexual harassment culture.Finding a Resolution Process

    We know that victims are ignored and paid off; and litigation and hefty settlements have not prevented predatory behavior. So what is the answer, and what should be considered when seeking arbitration and mediation as alternatives? Honesty, I am not sure, but I am confident that the Victim-shaming, fear, and the industry-cultural norms that allowed sexual harassment to go unchecked and underreported need deeper and broader systemic solutions.

    The following are brief points when considering other resolution options:

    Arbitration, Akin to Litigation –

  • Engaged as per employment contract provision(s), due process paranoia is a challenge.
  • Awards are usually confidential.
  • Victims often relive the incident like at a trial.
  • No appeals process.Mediation – Pros & Cons (limited and not exhaustive)
    • Pro- Empowerment- Many victims want an opportunity to face their abuser and ask “Why?”
    • Pro: Confidentiality- Victims are often ashamed and do not want, to have to relive the event multiple times.
    • Pro: Time – Much faster than litigation and arbitration.
    • Con: Confidentiality – Mediation and the possible agreement, are confidential. Theabuser often gets a chance to silence the incident/victim and is not truly held accountable.
    • Con: To Settle – Should a victim compromise and settle with the abuser?Stanley Zamor is a Florida Supreme Court Certified Circuit/Family/County Mediator & Primary Trainer and Qualified Arbitrator. Mr. Zamor serves on several federal and state mediation/arbitration rosters and has a private mediation and ADR consulting company. He regularly lectures on a variety of topics from ethics, cross-cultural issues, diversity, bullying, and Family/Business relationships.