Articles and Video:
Unresolved conflict can affect productivity and satisfaction at work. While it is human to have disagreements, effective communication skills can turn these into opportunities to deepen mutual understanding, solve problems creatively, and co-exist peacefully.
Four Elements of Forgiveness—50 Years Later (04/26/13)
I read recently about a beautiful example of forgiveness for a wrong that happened 50 years before. Elwin Wilson had been a white supremacist, and one of the mob who, in 1961, severely beat up Freedom Riders demonstrating for integration and African Americans’ civil rights.
Five Tips to Let Go and Forgive after a Break-Up (03/15/13)
Learning how to let go and forgive helped me a lot after two “break-ups.” Neither of these was with a spouse or romantic partner, but they were deep and difficult and painful nonetheless.
What are the Biggest Mistakes Divorced Parents Make? (01/11/13)
While parents are divorcing and after they are divorced, they are often overwhelmed by all the changes in their lives. They may be filled with guilt, blame, rage, or grief. Though they, of course, love their children, it may be a huge challenge to manage emotions and conflict with their ex in a way that helps their children move through the changes and feel loved and secure.
Five Steps Divorced Parents Can Take to Cool Down Holiday Conflict (12/21/12)
We all have idealized images of the holiday season–perfect gifts and the warm glow of togetherness. But the gap between expectations and reality can be huge when parents are recently divorced, and grief, anger, and bitterness can intensify holiday stress.
Empathy - Video (08/20/12)
This article and corresponding video showcase a panel on empathy and conflict resolution. Panelists included Cinnie Noble, Ken Cloke and Eileen Barker for Edwin Rutsch and the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy.
A “Novel” Approach to Building Empathy across Differences (08/13/12)
As a devoted novel reader and mediator/conflict coach, I was delighted when I read a blog post on the Harvard Business Review Network by Ann Kreamer, called “The Business Case for Reading Novels.”
Balance Listening and Limits with Storming Teens (07/23/12)
How can parents stay loving and detached but still listen when challenged by preteens and new teens? My favorite pediatrician, T Berry Brazelton, advises parents of teens who are being challenged or insulted to say calmly, “I’m interested in what you have to say, but you’ll have to find another way of saying it.” (Press Democrat Tuesday December 13, 2011)
Open the Door to Peace instead of Conflict (07/02/12)
The most difficult conflicts in my life have generally come from trying to impose my will on reality, particularly when I’m trying to control other people. When I have expectations of how life should be, how others should communicate and behave, or how events should unfold, and then try to make it happen, I rarely get the result I want.
The Courage to Listen in Conflicts (05/21/12)
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”—Winston Churchill. What does it take to sit down and listen to someone we disagree with, instead of dismissing them as the enemy or turning to violence?
Seven Tips for Setting Boundaries and Consequences with Teens (02/06/12)
One huge source of conflict and stress for parents of teens is figuring out how to set appropriate guidelines and consequences and then follow through successfully. Here are some tips and suggestions based on communication and conflict resolution principles.
Challenging Assumptions in Disagreements (and Cemeteries) (12/19/11)
Assumptions we make about other people’s motives can be obstacles to resolving conflict and differences. We know the impact of their words or actions on us, but we are often merely guessing their intent or making up a story about them that validates our worst
Effective, Respectful, Communication—Lessons from Occupy Santa Rosa (11/21/11)
Consensus building, like other valuable parts of negotiation and conflict resolution, is often messy and time consuming, but the result can be a vibrant, inclusive process of reaching decisions to which people feel deeply committed.
Holiday Hot Buttons: 5 Simple Steps to Cool Them Down (10/24/11)
Holidays can trigger powerful emotional reactions. We all know what the holidays are supposed to be like–perfect gifts and understanding, the warm glow of family togetherness and a spirit of lovingkindness.
From Lorraine Segal (10/11/11)
Mediate.com is such a rich professional resource as well as a way for people in other fields to understand what we conflict resolution professions do and the tremendous value we offer. The articles and blogs are a treasure trove of wisdom and insight and give us a forum for an ongoing thoughtful conversation with each other. I feel blessed to be a featured blogger and appreciate all the feedback and questions I've received from all over the world as a result. Here's to four hundred more issues!
Letting Go of Grudges and Resentments—A Key to Transforming Communication (10/03/11)
Holding grudges is a very human thing to do, but it creates a number of problems for the individuals who hold them and for the people they are in relationship with.
“Use Your Words” Works for Adult and Teen Conflict, Too (09/06/11)
Adult brains have well developed habitual pathways for responding to high conflict situations, which we tend to follow unconsciously even if they don’t serve us any longer
The World Cup of Forgiveness (08/15/11)
A story in my local newspaper about last month’s women’s soccer world cup offers a beautiful example of letting go, forgiveness, and fresh starts.
The Heart of Communication, Moving From Strife to Harmony (07/18/11)
How can we open our hearts and minds to clear, transformative communication?
The Healing Power of Apologies for Parents and Teens (07/05/11)
Since everyone involved was willing to accept responsibility for their part and graciously accept the others’ apologies, all we mediators had to do was let positive results of the initial apology unfold and watch the transformation that followed.
5 Steps to Effective Meetings (06/13/11)
Meetings seem to be an inevitable part of life, whether you’re a stay at home mom active in your kid’s PTA, or the team leader of a big corporate project.
Prisoner of a Teen Brain (05/30/11)
I read in the newspaper a few days ago that the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled to uphold a life sentence without parole to a teen, Omer Ninham, who murdered a 13 year old when he was 14.
From Anger to Open Heart with Teens (05/09/11)
Our feelings are an essential part of communication and relationships, but unmanaged anger can sabotage us. When we’re angry, we can’t listen or resolve problems well, and any loving connection is blocked.
Culture Clash—-Immigrant Parents and Their Teens (04/25/11)
Finding New Solutions for Parent-Teen Conflict (04/11/11)
Successful communication and conflict resolution with teenagers can be immensely challenging. When parents find an approach that helped, it is natural to hope it will work again.
Punishing Bullied Teens (03/27/11)
Recent research is teaching parents, professionals, and teens a lot more about bullying. The spate of recent suicides (bullycides) has caused more schools to take it seriously and help all of us recognize that bullying is not conflict between two individuals that can be resolved with improved communication, but is instead a deliberate campaign of intimidation and terror to injure an individual who is the target.
Freaky Friday And Building Parent-Teen Empathy (02/21/11)
When children become teenagers, parents and teens alike may find the transition difficult and filled with conflict.The movie Freaky Friday offers an example of how empathy and understanding can grow even between a feuding teen and parent.
Interest-Based Negotiating For Parents And Teens (02/14/11)
Although it may sound like something only for unions or businesses, interest based negotiating is a cornerstone of improving communication and resolving conflict in personal relationships, including those between parents and teens.
Improving Parent-Teen Communication (01/31/11)
Any communication between parents and their children can be difficult, but when those children become teenagers, the potential for miscommunication increases greatly.
President Obama’s Speech Offers Conflict Resolution Wisdom (01/17/11)
President Obama gave an eloquent and inspiring speech last Wednesday January 12th at the Tucson Memorial for those killed in the massacre. Particularly impressive to to me were statements he made that captured the essence of conflict resolution principles and compassionate communication.
Teaching People To Fish In The Sea Of Conflict: The Benefits Of Conflict Coaching (01/10/11)
My goal as a conflict intervention specialist is always to teach and empower others. I don’t just want to resolve a conflict for them, but help them gain skills to heal their own conflicts. Conflict coaching is a valuable approach to achieving this goal. 1 Comment
Bullies, Babies, And The Birth Of Empathy (12/27/10)
Can babies prevent bullying? The answer may be a resounding “yes.”
Bullying Can Cause Lasting Injury But There Is Hope (12/13/10)
According to a recent article in the Boston Globe, brain scans of teens who have been repeatedly bullied revealed the same changes as those who have been physically or sexually abused. In some individuals, the negative changes persisted years later.
Hot Buttons: Five Simple Steps To Cool Down Holiday Conflict (11/29/10)
We all have idealized images of the holiday season–perfect gifts and the warm glow of togetherness. But the real stress of expectations and difficult patterns of interactions with family members (perhaps better loved at a distance) can set off our emotional hot buttons or triggers.
Five (Personal) Principles About Healing Conflict (11/15/10)
My blog has been a wonderful way for me to reflect on my fundamental beliefs about conflict resolution. Many times I would write a new entry, and then wonder uneasily if I was repeating myself. I realized that although I offer different stories and contexts, a few principles about conflict and communication are at the heart of my writings. As this is the one year anniversary of my blog, I thought I’d share with you the principles I uncovered:
Expectations, Conflict, And Fruit Smoothies (10/25/10)
How much do our expectations influence our conflicts? Recent studies about appetite and perception at the University of Bristol in Britain offer some thought provoking answers.
Empathy, Conflict Resolution, And The 4th Dimension (10/11/10)
I love reading science fiction, because at its best it offers an imaginative window into our conflicts and possible solutions. In Factoring Humanity, renowned SF author Robert J. Sawyer explores the power of empathy to transform human relationships.
Healing The Trail Of Tears, Letting Go Of Resentment (09/27/10)
Resentment of past injustices, particularly when it has endured for generations, is extremely challenging to transform. But with willingness and courage, some individuals and groups have been able to move toward healing.
Emergency Self-Compassion For Conflicts (09/13/10)
Finding compassion for another person we are in conflict with, understanding their issues, perspective, and struggles are valuable tools in resolving issues. But, offering compassion to ourselves can be equally important in dealing successfully with conflict and difficult people.
Taking The First Step To Heal Conflict (08/30/10)
What does it look like to take the first step to heal conflict? It could be sitting down and talking with someone we’ve been avoiding. It could mean a new openness to hearing their story, understanding that their version of what happened is inevitably different from ours. It could mean telling another person how hurt or angry we felt. It could be a softening and self–forgiveness that lets us acknowledge our share in a problem rather than reacting defensively.
Every Conflict Has Two Losers (08/16/10)
When I read the title of a new documentary called Every War Has Two Losers, I was struck by how applicable this concept is to unresolved personal and professional conflicts as well.
Filling Up The Soap Dispenser Of Harmony (08/02/10)
As I frequently tell my coaching clients and students, it is far easier to resolve or avoid conflict if we look at our own contribution to the situation. We really can’t control another person, no matter how much we want to, but it is possible to change our own attitude and behavior, which often improves our dynamic with the other person.
The Iron Fist Of Dysfunctional Managers (07/19/10)
All supervisors and managers need to ensure that employees are getting their work done. But, in many workplaces, especially service oriented ones such as hospitals, schools, and non-profit social service agencies, iron fisted approaches backfire. Rather than improving the productivity and smooth functioning of the organization, they frustrate and burn out the most competent and dedicated workers.
The Flags And Flowers Of “The Enemy” (07/05/10)
On my neighborhood walks, I sometimes see a house that displays not just one, but a whole array of American flags even when no patriotic holiday is coming up. Instantly, I form a negative judgment about the people who live there.
Are ANTs Causing Conflict at Your Job? (06/21/10)
Despite the picture, I’m not talking about conflict and little marching insects, but the other kind of ANTs–Automatic Negative Thoughts–marching inside your head.
Good Conflict/Bad Conflict (06/07/10)
Unless you are a conflict resolution specialist, chances are when you hear the word “conflict”, you cringe and think of something horrible that happened at work or out in the world. Negative examples of conflict are everywhere: just turn your TV on to almost any sitcom, talk show, reality show or news program to see people acting out their conflicts in the worst way possible.
The Injury Of Mobbing In The Workplace (05/24/10)
Mobbing, although sometimes mischaracterized as workplace conflict, is actually a pernicious and dangerous workplace injury. It isn’t as common as individual bullying, because it tends to occur only to tenured college/school faculty, or to employees in the hospitals, factories, and other workplaces that have strong union or seniority systems. But those of us who have survived a mobbing will never forget it.
The Power Of The Past In Workplace Conflict (05/10/10)
Is it more helpful to remember or forget past workplace conflict? The famous line from George Santayana, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” tells us remembering is crucial. But in the current issue of Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Barbara Tint opined the opposite; that remembering major conflicts makes them persist. In my experience, either can be true in the workplace, depending on how and why we remember.
Workplace Conflict And The Inner Teenager (04/26/10)
Ever felt like you or your coworkers or bosses were acting or talking like difficult teenagers? You know what I mean, the sullen shrug, the denial, the endless willingness to argue, the sudden fits of temper? This kind of energy can be challenging and frustrating to deal with, especially when you are supposed to be working with adults.
Chasing Institutional Gratification At Work (04/12/10)
We all enjoy recognition from our peers and supervisors, and in an ideal workplace we’d be appreciated for each accomplishment. But, if our only source of work satisfaction is professional awards, we could be setting ourselves up for resentment, conflict, and competition at work that has little or nothing to do with our competence.
Computer Engineer Barbie And Workplace Gender Conflict (03/29/10)
Computer Engineer Barbie just arrived with lots of publicity, but does this signify the end of gender conflict and discrimination at work?
The Fun Theory And Workplace Motivation (03/15/10)
Can fun be an effective motivator at work? It might, according to a recent psychology study reported by David DiSalvo. In the study, researchers first assessed participants as high or low achievers and then gave them a series of 5 computerized tests. Their computers flashed various achievement-oriented cues for the first 4 tests, and, predictably, the higher achievers performed better.
The Fun Theory And Changing Behavior At Work (Part 1) (03/01/10)
How do we change behavior at work for the better? A big corporation in Germany started a campaign they call The Fun Theory.
Mother Always Liked You Best—Dysfunctional Family Patterns In The Workplace (02/15/10)
If you‘ve ever felt like your managers, co-workers or employees were acting like children, you may be right. For better or worse, many of our habitual patterns of communication and conflict in the workplace come from our families of origin. When people bring these unconscious understandings and roles to work, it is a volatile recipe for conflict, miscommunication, and a negative, poorly functioning organization.
Woman Bites Dog—Acknowledging My Part At Work (And In The Park) (02/08/10)
?My clients and I often wish we could remake our co-workers and managers in our preferred image. But, the reality is that we generally have little or no control over the words and actions of others, even if there are negative consequences for us. So, I encourage my conflict coaching clients to look at their share, however small, in a problematic interaction.
Downsizing Resentments At Work (01/25/10)
Is resentment poisoning you at work? I have witnessed clients, parties in mediations, and colleagues filled with resentment toward a co-worker, supervisor, or employee. Sometimes these feelings persist for years, only expressed indirectly, with inevitably negative consequences on the individuals, their productivity, and their leadership skills.
Always A Godmother, Never A God—Power And Control In The Workplace (01/18/10)
Unrealistic attempts to control bosses, co-workers, or employees at meetings or individually can be huge sources of conflict in the workplace.
The Importance Of Making A Mess At Work (01/11/10)
For many years I put immense energy into avoiding errors and messes or defensively pretending I hadn’t made any. I finally started to understand what this artist knew intuitively, that mistakes are valuable. If we are unwilling to risk making a mistake, we also risk lessening our creative ability to solve problems.
Becoming Human At Work (12/28/09)
Do we see others at work as human, or do we fit them in a convenient slot based on their professional role or our hasty judgment of them?
You Say “Hello”, I Say “Adios”, Conflict Versus Difference In The Workplace (12/21/09)
In the U.S., when we walk past someone we don’t know, what do we say? 1 Comment