JONATHAN D. CONANT provides mediation and arbitration services
throughout Arizona from his base in Prescott, Ariz. He is the Chair of
the State Bar of Arizona ADR Section and a frequent contributor to ADR
publications. He also lectures and provides training on behalf of numerous
ADR organizations. He is currently Northern Arizona’s only member of
the National Academy of Distinguished Neutrals, and offers parties his
experience of more than 18 years and thousands of mediations. He can
be reached at Jonathan@JDConant.com.
This article was previously published
in the Summer 2015 issue of the
State Bar of Arizona ADR Forum.
Reprinted with permission.
Often, what we mean to say,
or even what we actually say, comes across
and is interpreted as something completely
different from what we intended. This is
even more evident in the digital, or
Internet, age. However, the lessons from
long ago remain the same.
There have no doubt been many articles
written and speeches made about the
importance of using plain speech or relying
on the common meaning of words and
terms in our conversations. Practicing
attorneys understood the “plain meaning
rule” to apply to understanding and interpreting legislative intent in the creation of
laws. But even with these guidelines, trouble is waiting just around the corner.
I learned well over a decade ago that to
garner the trust of those with whom I was
mediating I had to be able to communicate
with them and enable them to communicate with me as well. This simple
task had to be accomplished without regard to differences of race,
creed, culture, sex and sexual
orientation, religion and national origin. A daunting task, perhaps, but I felt confident that it
BY JONATHAN D. CONANT
The Plain Meaning
Rule in Mediation