Dana Bachar Grossman, a serious negotiator with a playful air, was right on cue when I asked during the interview “so Dana, what’s your story? Why are you here today?” And she teased back, you mean “Dana, who ARE you???”
In a sense, that’s exactly what I meant.
Who is Dana, this shrewd business woman, trained in law; mediator and negotiator by profession, and serial volunteer at the supreme court and subordinate court?
To that, she frankly replied, “I was a criminal lawyer in Israel and I didn’t like it at all – the first time I opened the evidence of a murder case, I knew it wasn’t for me. Then I found mediation.”
Mediation, Dana believes, is a more effective and positive approach to disputes than lawsuits. “Mediation helps you have control over the outcome. A third party can help create a neutral agreement before it escalates to court. The court is always there, but meditation prevents things from escalating to that point. With mediation there’s an 85% success rate, it’s confidential and cannot be used against you legally.”
Dana started out mediating as a volunteer at the Centre for Mediation, took the course, and practiced mediation in English, after years of mediating in Hebrew. She’s been volunteering for 8 years in different courts, “givers gain.”
“If you do it voluntarily” she says “you set an amazing example. I do it to create peace, to help people get to a better place and to contribute to a better world, with more harmony and less disputes. I think it can make the world a better place. In Israel we face a lot of aggression and violence and I think it’s because of a lack of communication skills. I’m not a saint. I want my own business to grow and make money. At the same time I believe it’s about effective communication. The world will be a better place, kids will be better people, families would be calmer and there’d be harmony around.”
We were lucky to have Dana gave a talk at our last Athena Executive Club meeting covering “Effective Mediation and Negotiation.” She started out with an animated scenario, showing the fallacy of forming judgements based on the quickest simple decisions. She gave the example of two children fighting over an orange. What’s the quickest solution? Cut it in half?
That’s what most of the women in the room believed. But she challenged, what if one wanted to make juice and other wanted to make orange peel candies? There could have been a more effective solution had the decider listened before making a judgement.
Which leads me into my favourite quote (well, second favourite) from the interview: “I can see the greys – I can defend any side, so I cannot judge easily, I prefer not to judge. It’s about listening and coming up with a mutual benefit.”
What’s one thing you fear?
“Good question, I’m not normally afraid of things …My kids. Sometimes I’m worried whether I make the right point of them. As a mediator, I’m always looking for the right way, and a win-win for everyone. It’s more of a consideration than a fear.”
What’s your best life tip?
“Keep focused on your interest – on what you want to gain and don’t be dragged by emotions and reactions. Keep focusing.”
“The other tip is to shut up” (don’t write that down, she jokes) “but seriously, it’s okay to shut up and listen. It’s okay to have silence in the room and not impulsively react.”
What’s your best business tip?
“Be true to your own beliefs, be true to what you want to do. My husband told me ‘people don’t follow ideas, they follow vision, if your vision is clear, make sure it’s loyal to your beliefs, don’t try to sell it, just say what you believe and people will decide whether they want to follow”
Meet Dana and other great Athena members at our next Athena event!