By Steven G. Mehta

Is the end of the world soon here?  Well according to a Christian Group, there are only 83 shopping days till the end of the world.  What can we do about the end of the world predictions?  Lot’s, and here’s why it connects to mediation.

First, CNN has reported on a group of Christians that are traveling across America foretelling of the end of the world.  By the way, that date is May 21, 2011 so make sure that you complete your bucket list events by that date.  The CNN Story reflects that there have been many end of the world prophecies that have gone wrong.  See CNN article.  In the 1800’s a preacher of another Christian church predicted the end of the world that year.  When the date came and went, they looked back at the bible and found that they had made a mistake in the calculations and advanced the date.  When that date also did not yield armeggedon, the reasons were changed for why the prediction — that was still accurate — failed to come true.

The interesting point is that in mediation and life’s negotiations, you may end up facing a person that refuses to accept facts or information that is contrary to his or her view.  Stephen Colbert has a word for this:  Truthiness — The persistent and adamant belief that a position is true despite being given evidence to the contrary.

Interestingly enough, there are a lot of people that suffer from truthiness.  One study found that when addressing firm beliefs like the value of the death penalty, information provided to the person that demonstrated factual reasons for why their position was wrong simply reaffirmed their belief in their position.  So how do you convince a person such as these to change their view?  You don’t.

You change the outcome to conform to their view.  In negotiations, there is a rule that people don’t do things for your reasons, they do it for their own reasons.  In other words, you need to understand their view and incorporate their view of the world into the rationale for change that you are seeking.

If a person truly believes that he did nothing wrong.  You can’t change that view.  You can, however, let him know that there is only one guarantee — that is that he won’t be on the jury.  So the only person that can truly be convinced that he did nothing wrong will never be able to make that decision.  What if a “crazy” jury decides because they want to go home on Friday at 4:00 that they just want to make a decision against him.  How will his conviction of doing nothing wrong be affected by that decision.  What if the jury agrees with him?  Will that make him even stronger in his belief?  Or is it simply enough that he believes and knows that he did nothing wrong, but resolution is still necessary.

Look for the legal jujitsu.  Take their position and accept it.  Now find a reason to create change within that atmosphere.