Take a Mason Jar.
Create a somewhat cheesy label, nothing word-processed, more like child-with-crayola, that says, “Tip Jar.”
This is where things get nuanced, so, pay attention!
If you are mediating cases for unemployed people who can’t afford a lawyer and speak English only under duress, do not seed your tip jar with hundred dollar bills!
And, no Krugerrands!
The concept is that if people, no matter how modest their means, start believing, through the mediation process, that you, as mediator, are doing a good job, they can add to the tip jar!
Of course, your seed money will be at risk.
If they don’t like you, or, in some cases, even if they do, they may take/steal from the tip jar when you are in caucus with the other side.
On second thought, the seed money may not be my best idea.
If you go into a Starbuck’s for a quick latte and notice the seeded tip jar, you feel safe in assuming that you are not the first customer of the day, and the folks ahead of you have appreciated the service so they responded accordingly.
Why not follow suit?
Why not pay it forward?
That’s something else.
You’re feeling good, you have a pocket full of plastic cards, so why not?
Unfortunately, mediation customers move in and out in hours instead of minutes.
Given that static and intrinsic aspect of the situation, what explanation does a mediator offer if someone questions why money is already in the tip jar first thing for an am mediation?
“Ha! You seeded the tip jar?”
“Consider it a mediator’s proposal?”
“I had a breakfast dispute?”
“Left over from yesterday?”
At this juncture, experienced mediators will recognize that we are using a dispute resolution technique sometimes referred to as “deflection”.
I made that up.