The Human Touch in ODR: Trust, Empathy and Social Intuition in Online Negotiation and Mediation
in Rainey, D., Katsh, E. and Abdel Wahab, A. (Forthcoming). Online Dispute Resolution: Theory and Practice (2nd ed.). Eleven Intl. Publishing
68 Pages Posted: 12 Jan 2021
Date Written: January 5, 2021
As the field of Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) has grown and evolved, it has often met resistance from practitioners and theorists alike. One core theme has always been that the interpersonal processes of negotiation and mediation are fundamentally dependent on an elusive quality or aspect dubbed 'the human touch'. The cold impersonal environment of the internet, the arguments went, is inherently bereft of the human touch.
ODR had been growing rapidly even before the COVID-19 pandemic drove all forms of professional practice, including negotiation and mediation, online. The time has come, therefore, to reframe these objections into appreciative exploration:
Just what is this 'human touch' and in what sense is it absent in online communication?
How can practitioners regain the human touch, and bring it to bear in online interactions?
Might there be ways in which we can imbue online negotiation and mediation processes with the human touch even beyond the levels encountered in-person interactions?
To transform an ineffable notion into applicable theory and practice, the chapter outlines three key human-touch areas: trust, empathy, and social intuition. The chapter explains each area through a human-touch perspective. It then maps out the challenges to each in the online environment, and recommends helpful practices for enhancing each of these human-touch areas in online negotiation and mediation processes.
Keywords: Online, dispute, resolution, ODR, ADR, communication, courts, law, human, touch, human touch, mediation, negotiation, conflict, trust, empathy, social, intuition, communication, court, technology, change, professions, mediator, negotiator, party, dispute, alternative, resolution, management
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