TMS Event Details

Event Title: Transforming Impasse From Problem into Opportunity in Business Mediations

Event Type: Society Session


Resolution Remedies
1000 Fourth Street, 8th Floor
San Rafael, CA

MCLE Event

Presenter: Stephen Sulmeyer

Date: Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Time: Noon to 1pm
(Please bring your own lunch)


Perhaps the most bedeviling problem in business mediations is what to do when the parties are at loggerheads, particularly when the impasse is laced with anger, frustration and reactivity. After all, business mediations are supposed to be about the rational evaluation of risk, evidence, cost, and so forth-not out-of- control emotions and uncalled-for stubbornness.

As it turns out, all too many business cases are laced with emotion and irrationality, which can make mediation unpleasant if not unworkable. Most of us want to find some easy remedy, some tool or skill we can master that will allow us cut through such impasses easily. Yet our experience tells us that, given the complexities of content and of personality styles in the range of cases we see, there is no silver bullet for dealing with impasse.

In this lunchtime presentation, Stephen Sulmeyer, J.D., Ph.D., suggests that, while not a silver bullet, how we as mediators frame or hold the entire concept of “impasse” has a great deal to do with the “problem” impasses present, including the ways mediators can unwittingly contribute to impasse by framing it as a problem that has to be fixed, rather than an opportunity that beckons to be explored.

Discussion Leader:

STEPHEN H. SULMEYER, J.D., Ph.D. is a lawyer, clinical psychologist, mediator, trainer, and collaborative divorce coach in Marin County, California. He specializes in complex and high-conflict disputes in a wide range of subject areas, including family and divorce, probate and elder, family businesses, business/commercial, intellectual property, employment, discrimination, partnerships, personal injury, and community matters. He is particularly skilled at getting to the heart of the human issues that tend to drive most disputes and create obstacles to settlement.

Steve is a former chairperson of the Marin County Bar Association’s Alternative Dispute Resolution Section, and a member of the Association for Dispute Resolution of Northern California (ADR-NC), the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), the Association of Family and Conciliation Courts (AFCC), the Academy of Professional Family Mediators (APFM), the American Bar Association’s ADR section, as well as numerous legal and psychological organizations. He received his undergraduate and law degrees from Stanford University, and his Ph.D. from the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, where he has taught as a member of the adjunct faculty. He serves on mediation panels of the Marin County and Alameda County Superior Courts and the United States District Court for the Northern District of California.