Client Story: Mediating Landlords and Tenants

Mediating Landlords and Tenants

          Landlord-tenant cases are some of the most frequent cases that come across the desks of the mediators of the APADRC—they also represent one of the most challenging subset of cases to mediate. This is due to the inherent complexities of the landlord-tenant relationship such as: power imbalance and the need for functioning ongoing relationships post-mediation.  LandlordTenant1

            Party one, a group of students, sought the services of the APADRC after realizing that they could not resolve the dispute with their landlord without the help of a third party. There were many factors at play in this ongoing dispute with one of the main factors being miscommunication between the two parties. The landlord felt frustration at the students’ lack of understanding of certain cultural practices and the students felt ignored by the management. This is the deadlock that the APADRC was asked to resolve through mediation.

This may seem like a daunting task, but upon closer inspection the APADRC was able to identify and build relationships with the leaders of the two parties through regular telephone calls. We were able to keep both parties updated as to the status of this case; however there were definitely roadblocks encountered. Persistence is key in mediation and this case exemplifies this principle as evidenced by the incessant voicemails and follow-up phone calls to ensure that both sides received the most up-to-date information.

The next step in this conciliation required the DRC staff to explain some American cultural norms; this was necessary because some of the ideas seemed suspicious to party one when party two attempted to communicate these norms. For example, we explained the “middleman situation” of the landlord in this case and how this position disallowed issuing an immediate rent credit. In addition, we explained the students’ frustration with the prolonged process of receiving what they felt was their due reward. It was also necessary to explain to both parties that using examples involving other individuals outside of the case is detrimental to the conciliatory process.

Maintaining a positive attitude and facilitating forward movement in a case is extremely crucial and this case attests to this. Negative attitudes or dismal outlooks manifest themselves in several ways. In this case, party one began to doubt whether mediation could solve this conflict and party two sought to escalate the conflict. Through reframing and restating. The DRC staff was able to re-channel this energy into seeking a speedy resolution to the case. It is interesting that through the back and forth communication between the two parties through a neutral mediator, this case was successfully resolved (in the eyes of both parties) with an intact landlord tenant relationship.

 

By APADRC CRS Intern Akilah Booty

This Fall, Get Trained in Basic Mediation and Conflict Resolution!

Trying to navigate conflicts at the workplace and in your personal life?  Do you struggle with speaking your mind and being heard without offending others?

Join the APADRC for our fall Basic Mediation and Conflict Resolution training!  Sign up before our Early Bird deadline of August 2.

Our training is open to all community members and meets the requirements of the State of California Dispute Resolutions Programs Act for mediation training.

  • Innovative 40-hour curriculum blending online, self-directed coursework with in-person weekend trainings to fit your busy schedule
  • Strong emphasis on experiential learning through group activities and partner exercises
  • One day of full-length mediation role plays to apply theories and practice, with returning APADRC coaches providing constructive feedback
  • Curriculum emphasizing cross-cultural competency and working with different communication and conflict styles
  • Blend of theoretical and practical tools to strengthen your mediation and communication

Fall 2013 40-Hour Basic Mediation Flyer (PDF)

Testimonials About Our Curriculum (Spring 2013)

  • My favorite parts were the very thoughtful activities which keep us moving and in our bodies (thinking through our bodies)
  • Loved the mock-mediations. Much more useful than I could have imagined.
  • Tough, interesting, practical.
  • Highly recommended – worthwhile and insightful.
  • Understanding people’s underlying interests – that’s just useful for life!
  • I learned that silence can be a helpful aspect of mediation.
  • Really enjoyed the hands on experience. It was a great opportunity to try things out, see what works and what doesn’t. Also increased my level of self-awareness.
  • I really like the practical examples of concepts like the exercises on pacing, common complaints, and feeling heard.

Testimonials About Our Trainers (Spring 2013)

  • Great mix of lectures, discussions and activities.
  • Great job of keeping the floor open for discussion all throughout.
  • I appreciated the supportive space and ability to share thoughts authentically.
  • Thanks for thinking so much about the participants’ needs.
  • I think you guys did a great job w/ exercises that get us to move without putting us on the spot by making us answer questions in front of everyone.

 

Introducing our 2013 Summer Interns

by Dominik Onate

We’re so excited to have our new team of conflict resolution specialists. Joining us this summer in the Community & Intergroup Conflicts program are Nick (Mandarin), Peter (Korean), Sharon (Korean), Grace (Korean), Mei (Cantonese), Andy (Mandarin), Joann (Mandarin/Cantonese), Cinthya (Spanish), Livvie (Spanish), and Long (Vietnamese). For our Peace Makers & Mediators program, we’re excited to have Kim Navoa join us from Leadership Education for Asian Pacifics, Inc. (LEAP). These summer interns come from schools all the way from Oberlin College in Ohio to the University of San Diego School of Law.

For the next several months, they will be the voice of the APADRC community program. Having gone through our 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training, they are now actively taking client calls, performing intakes, and managing cases. They are also helping us outreach to all of our different communities from the San Gabriel Valley all the way to Orange County. They are making their presence known, and their enthusiasm and energy for working with our communities are infectious. They have fast become the heart of our summer program. Please join us in welcoming them and supporting their growth in building peace within our communities.

For those interested in interning or volunteering with us, our next 40-Hour Basic Mediation Training is coming up in September. A combination of online classes, in-person sessions, and coached role plays, the APADRC basic mediation training is a new and innovative way of learning about conflict resolution and developing advanced communication skills. Look out for our flyer in the newsletter!

Stepping Into Conflict

By Claire Doran, Program Director

Most days, I speak about peace. Today, I want to speak about conflict.  Peace is not an escape from conflict, but the willingness to move into conflict.  John Paul Lederach gives a simple definition for conflict transformation: (1) a positive orientation toward conflict and (2) a willingness to engage in the conflict in an effort to produce constructive change or growth.  To be honest, it’s that second half that has always proven to be a challenge for me. It may also be a challenge for you.

Just after graduating from UC Berkeley, and casting out wide nets twisted together with the paper fibers of cover letters and resumes, I landed my first job working as a residential counselor. I would work with youth ages 14-18 who through whatever number of life circumstances needed additional supervision and attention. We had magnetic badges which opened doors that clicked locked automatically behind us. We used plastic forks and spoons and had non-toxic soap in the bathrooms. We counted pens and pencils, and wore non-restrictive clothing that would see sweat, blood, and spit during the regular course of a week. And one of the first lessons that I learned there was about “proximity.” 

Providing “proximity” was a nice, clinical term for approaching one of our clients. We would provide “proximity” for a number of reasons, but it basically meant that when they were about to act out, throw down, or somehow disrupt the program, we got close. Three staff members would stand next to the youth – the number that it would take to safely restrain them if they chose to go off on us. And we would wait. And this meant re-training every cell in my body that screamed with adrenaline urging me to back off, and stand nearer to the heat of conflict. During this time, I saw anger, despair, boredom, anxiety, hopelessness, and delight from a distance of three feet or less. And I stood nearby, awaiting a direction from the staff, feeling these emotions dance along my skin.

For a full year, I spent time with these young people and grew to know their families, their hopes, insecurities, and set-backs. And several times a week, I would stand with them at the simmering brink of explosion or collapse. And several times a week, I would follow them into it and hold them through the struggle.  This March I’ve had more time and opportunity to consider this responsibility and willingness to step into conflict as we hosted an anti-bullying poster contest at the middle school and high school level.

Our students face tremendous obstacles.  While juggling full course loads taught by overstretched teachers, they also have extracurricular activities and hobbies, while still trying to develop healthy self-image, friendships and relationships with their peers.  And then, there is social pressure and bullying.  While our students are struggling to pit themselves against our standardized tests, we also ask them to look out for each other and make their schools bully-free.  We ask them to take a risk and step into conflicts to protect each other, when there are no supervising adults around to monitor them.  Even with years of practice I still break a sweat when I think about brushing up against the heat of conflict.  I wonder if as adults, we minimize their concerns about stepping into bullying.  It’s really hard – and our students who do take that leap should be truly recognized for their courage and their hard work.

Conflict – it’s the other face of peace.  And so as a peacemaker, each day, I take another step closer to conflict so that I might know it better.  What’s your next step into conflict?.

UC Berkeley Winter Externship Reflection: Choosing a Career in Conflict Resolution

by Tiffany Hoang, 2013 UC Berkeley Winter Extern.

One doesn’t expect the work of four days to yield very visible results. Though when it comes to externing with the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center (APADRC), I feel I have grown so much as a result of four days that synthesizing the experience into one page comes as a challenging task. What I can say is that my short time at the APADRC has contributed to my growth both personally and professionally. I think being a senior in my undergraduate studies has a lot to do with it, so it makes me particularly thankful that this opportunity presented itself when it did.

On the one hand, mediation training was two-fold in helping me translate theory into practice while allowing me to reflect on who I am as an individual and how that relates to the work I do. Through the workshop exercises, I can identify myself as an “indirect communicator”, a moderate expresser of emotions, and a “conflict avoider.” I know that I’ve acquired most of these attributes from my parents, and may stem from being an immigrant and learning the mindset that one  acquires when adapting to a new country. Contrarily, the avoidance of conflict in my upbringing allowed a level of ignorance that ultimately led me to where I am today- a student in Peace and Conflict Studies.  This also explains my receptiveness to new ideas, which I learned is a desired trait for mediators. Therefore I am realizing that even though overt conflict has not played a strong presence in my life, my desire to satisfy curiosities nonetheless allows me to seek out situations where mediation or alternative dispute resolutions can be utilized to yield more peaceful outcomes. Moreover, the mediation training from the APADRC has provided me with a skill set that I feel confident in practicing in my own life and in lending in the service of others, if and when the opportunity arises.

Additionally, I found that working on site with Program Director, Claire Doran, to be an experiential way to learn about networking skills that are vital to non-profit work. I enjoyed watching Claire interact with community partners, and appreciated her encouragement for us to interact with these partners as well. I was able to practice carrying a conversation by connecting on a mutual point of reference and asking questions. I also found it valuable to hear that reaching out does not just mean connecting with the community your organization serves, but also “pulling in all aspects of yourself.” That is, keeping in touch with all the communities you associate yourself with, past and present. It was nice to know that I didn’t need to leave one side of myself to pursue the other, but that in fact, there is a purpose for all skills and aspects of myself in the non-profit profession, and I could use them to my creativity. These skills will be valuable for helping me move forward as I make the transition from student to professional.

All in all, spending these past few days with the APADRC was most important in reaffirming the path that I have chosen. Pursuing a profession in Peace and Conflict Resolution is not a common direction for many people, but knowing that it is out there gives me hope that I can do it too, and find success doing it as well. Thank you to Claire Doran and the APADRC community for hosting such a wonderful externship program. I look forward to returning to the APADRC soon to lend my services in any way that I can. Your organization is an invaluable asset to the community, and I am thankful to have been a part of it for this short time.

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UC Berkeley Winter Externship Reflection: A New Perspective On Diversity

by Melissa Hu, 2013 UC Berkeley Winter Extern.

As an extern for the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center, I learned to see conflict in an entirely new perspective. Prior to my involvement with the organization, I had imagined conflict as something to avoid at all costs. After attending conflict resolution training, doing independent research on diversity, and attending on-site meetings with community organizations, I have discovered the ways that conflict provides opportunities for self-reflection. The APADRC has given me valuable skills to understand the dynamic of conflict. The interesting thing about conflict is that it applies to human relationships and diplomacy in the same ways. As a Political Economy major interested in global affairs, I believe that my experiences at the APADRC will help me understand why countries and its peoples behave unpredictably.

Since the start of the externship, I have been on a learning curve. I worked on a project in which I studied old case files of inter-ethnic and inter-racial youth mediations. Afterwards, I stumbled upon an article titled “Thinking about Diversity-Related Conflict: Respect, Recognition and Learning” by Susan Woods. According to Woods, diversity is a paradox because it destroys old problems while creating new ones. For example, a diverse workplace might lead to a conflict over cultural sensitivity. The article put into words a phenomenon I had barely noticed, and I was absolutely blown away. I had always thought that conflict exists only when there is a lack of diversity, not when there is diversity.

Later that day, we visited a local organization. The organization’s Conflict Resolution Team sought to improve their dispute resolution skills through training with the APADRC. After they walked us through their different concerns regarding conflicts in their organization, I was able to visualize how conflicts manifest themselves in diverse settings and understand that conflicts can still arise even when people are united under the same cause. Shockingly, I realized that the organization faced the same diversity paradox I had just read about. Then and there, I began to understand the importance and urgency of conflict mediation education to the public. That way, when conflicts do arise, especially in communities as diverse as Los Angeles, people will have the skill set to prevent escalation of those conflicts.

Before I externed here, I had absolutely no idea that alternative dispute resolution existed. I had always thought that litigation was the only way to resolve a conflict. However, from my experiences at the APADRC, I have realized that mediation can be a constructive approach to conflict resolution because it helps people learn about themselves through personal growth and self-reflection. Additionally, the positivity and enthusiasm so central to mediation drives the opposing parties to a mutual understanding. Everyone who takes part in conflict resolution comes out as a different person. Coming out of this externship, I feel that I have come out as different person.

I would like to thank Claire for giving me this externship at such an amazing organization. She was so sweet and helpful, always clarifying difficult concepts and providing us with a professional perspective. Additionally, it was refreshing to see local organizations actively seek out mediation training out of a genuine concern for its members. My experiences during the externship have opened my eyes to the world of conflict resolution and local organizations, and I am so grateful that I had such a wonderful opportunity to explore such important aspects of the community!.

UC Berkeley Winter Externship Reflection: Exploring Passion and Service

by Emily Boyd, 2013 UC Berkeley Winter Extern.

Although I do not see myself pursuing a future in mediation, my externship with the APADRC has provided me with invaluable experiences. Each day I learned so many things regarding mediation, office work, non-profit organizations, and myself. Despite the short time frame, or perhaps because of it, every day was filled with new and interesting experiences.

I quickly learned that working in non-profit requires you to take on many different roles.  It is necessary to be competent in both service and business. Perhaps what surprised me the most was the role that social media played in the business aspect. I never suspected that maintaining active Facebook and Twitter pages would play such a key role in attracting new clients, which is essential for an organization such as the APADRC, for without clients, the mediators would have no one to provide their services to. They are also essential for establishing and maintaining connections within the dispute resolution community. The meetings we attended were fascinating and diverse as well. During one meeting, when we discussed different examples of conflict, I quickly discovered the complexity of mediation. While it may seem straightforward on paper, dealing with real people and real situations often becomes complex and convoluted, which makes the role of the mediator anything but straightforward. In another meeting, I discovered more of the business end of the organization, one that involves developing and establishing connections within the community, which allows a nonprofit to continually expand and reach a greater spectrum of clientele.

I also spent a short amount of time researching how mediation works when the clients have psychiatric disabilities. Through this research, I discovered my favorite aspect of alternate dispute resolution: its ability to empower people. It is actually encouraged for people with mental disabilities to participate in mediation because it offers a way of reducing stress through problem prevention and gives them a sense of control over their own lives. The entire process helps individuals develop self-confidence in their abilities to develop solutions to their own problems and creates a sense of empowerment. It also helps improve real world problem-solving and social skills. While this is especially true for mental health patients, it is applicable to all people, and is, in my opinion, one of the strongest arguments for mediation as a tool for conflict resolution.

However, my favorite day was the mediation training day provided by the APADRC. While I expected to learn about the mediation process and the mediator’s role, I never expected that I would learn so much about myself and human nature in general. It was amazing to me that within about fifteen minutes in the room all together, such a safe space was created that complete strangers of all different age groups, backgrounds, and lifestyles felt comfortable sharing about themselves and discussing their thoughts on a variety of often touchy subjects such as race and immigration. It was so refreshing to feel that my ideas were listened to, respected, and seriously considered by people sometimes much older than me, and I also loved hearing their ideas in return, even if they sometimes completely opposed my views. The entire experience caused me to consider how humans relate to each other. I think the ability humans have to connect with and love one another is one of our best features. If we only remember to treat everyone with kindness and have an open heart, we can form lasting and wonderful relationships with just about anyone. I believe that in mediation, if the disputants come in with good intentions, then this characteristic will shine through and a resolution will eventually be able to be achieved.

All in all, I am extremely grateful that Claire and the UC Berkeley Career Center were able to organize this externship for us. Each second, from being in the office, to car rides, to meetings and training, and even to a delicious Ethiopian lunch, was filled with intellectual exchanges that taught me so much. I was able to experience the difficult and the rewarding sides of working in nonprofit, and although I am not quite sure of exactly what I want my future to look like, I know that I want to spend at least some of it working in nonprofit. Any kind of organization, whether it’s one that provides mediation like the APADRC or something completely different, provides extremely valuable and rewarding experiences if you are passionate about the service you are providing..

UC Berkeley Winter Externship Reflection: The Owl Goes “Hoot”

by Ashley Song, 2013 UC Berkeley Winter Extern.

In my limited experience of Peace and Conflict Studies, I had not yet explored interpersonal relationships, on which the Asian Pacific American Dispute Resolution Center focuses. But, through some online courses that the APADRC provided for their interns, I found I was an “Owl,” a conflict resolution type that emphasized collaboration and solving all aspects of the problem. This got me thinking about how an “Owl” might play out on the international and community level.

On the international level, it’s pretty easy to see ambassadors, presidents, and monarchs come together to settle disputes and make agreements to further the world into a new era. It is always well publicized on television and the internet. However, as I learned about the conflict resolution type of an “Owl,” I identified one Owl in history, Woodrow Wilson.

At the end of World War I, President Wilson pushed for a list of Fourteen Points, terms of agreement that he believed would bring all nations together to move forward in peace after five years of war. He looked to the future and the long term legacy of the war and tried to address all aspects of conflict, pushing with all of his might to promote international collaboration with the League of Nations. However, when his efforts failed, what he feared came true: World War II.

Wilson, as well as other “Owls” such as I, believe that even though lingering sentiments may be slightly unreasonable or irrational, they need to be dealt with to solve the entire dispute. These lingering feelings can become the trigger for a dispute resurfacing. Similarly, on the international stage, these lingering feelings brought about the Second World War and even prolonged the American, Chinese, and Korea Civil War sentiments we still see today. Obviously, these sentiments cannot be erased so easily, but must at least be addressed to solve as many aspects of the problem as possible.

In my experience with the APADRC, I have found that proper mediation in a safe space is an avenue to encourage long term and reasonable thinking, not to mention that the majority of mediation cases actually succeed. It gives way to lasting agreements and little chance of the same problems arising again.

If we continue to realize this pattern of unaddressed sentiments, we could finally have more hope that these conflicts, both community and international, have a greater chance of unraveling in a positive light. This is the next step to a long lasting positive peace for which the world constantly strives. By educating more people that have little knowledge about mediation, the community can experience mediation and see the local peace that it has accomplished. As an “Owl,” I firmly believe that this collaboration can become a center point from which peace can magnify to wider scopes..

Free Online Conflict Resolution Class

We are offering a free online conflict resolution class that goes along with our new peer mediation curriculum. You can learn how to start a peer mediation program at your school. The class is designed for school teachers, administrators and nonprofit staff at conflict resolution organizations.

Utilize this onetime offer by registering on http://www.peermediators.org/resources/course
Major funders – JAMS Foundation, , County of Los  Angeles Community and Senior Services, Sempra Energy – Southern California Gas Company, Union Bank

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Kindness and Giving During the Holidays

By Charles Chang

During this time of year, most people think about all the things that they are grateful for. For many, it is knowing that the people they love and care about are safe and sound. For others, it’s being grateful for another year of cancer remission, the return of a loved one from a war zone, or just having a job when so many others are still out of work.

In addition to gratitude, the Holidays are a wonderful time for generosity; not only toward the ones you love, but also to others that you may not know but can still benefit from your kindness. We have all benefited from a random act of kindness and during these moments, giving back can be a great gift.

One holiday many years ago, I remember being far from home and being in a strange city. I was tirelessly walking and trying to get somewhere when a kind man stopped to offer me a ride. Maybe the fact that I looked innocuous and helpless made him offer me a ride when I didn’t even have my thumb out trying to hitch a ride. I was really exhausted from walking and at the time, I was not aware of how to find a cab. To this day, I remember this man and I am very grateful for his act of kindness. Throughout the years, this event has continued to inspire me to try to give back and display generosity to others.

About ten years ago, at the intersection of Olympic Blvd and Wilton/Arlington, I saw this elderly Korean grandmother walking in the middle of the road. She was obviously a little out of it to be in the middle of a huge intersection with cars going all around her. I was surprised that no one stopped to help her. So I stopped my car, and picked her up. Luckily, I knew just enough Korean to ask her where her home was. I took her home and dropped her off. A few months later, I saw a big billboard at that same intersection commending a couple of police officers for getting that same grandmother off of that intersection like I did. I guess the police department felt the good PR would help them with relations with the Korean community. Although I didn’t get a billboard for my efforts, my reward was feeling good for helping someone in need.

So I’d like to ask you to do something that may not offer great recognition but will still allow you to make a great contribution to your community. If you’re thinking about where to make an end of year donation, please think about APADRC and the work that we do for community and schools. We will thank you and recognize you in our newsletter, but more importantly, you will know that you have spread your kindness to the community and to an organization that truly works hard to improve the conditions for the people around your home. Please click on the donate button at the top of this page and give what you can.  We are a 501(c)(3) tax exempt organization. Thank you for being our partner in peace and please forward our newsletters to others who may be interested in reading our stories and contributing to our cause..