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Conflict resolution skills and strategies
The articles in this section discuss general conflict resolution skills and strategies for executives, HR professionals, mediators, and coaches. They also include occasional announcements about my upcoming public workshops and online conflict resolution courses. For additional insights, skills and strategies, visit the article archives for effective communication, mental models, self-mastery, and good problem-solving process.
3 questions for choosing the right tool at the right time.
There’s a space that changes form and scale as we navigate our personal and business relationships. It’s the space between us, narrowing and softening when things are going well, widening and hardening in times of tension. The quality of our relationships, the degree of our happiness, and the success of our solutions are all influenced by The Space Between.
A dispute is not the same as a conflict. Mediation is different from facilitation. I’ve had repeated requests for the language I use to describe and define common conflict resolution terms like these, so here’s the language I use and a PDF download suitable for printing.
Whakawhanaungatanga is a Māori process for establishing relationships and connection. I explore whakawhanaungatanga with New Zealanders Hilary Unwin and Pereri Hathaway in this audio interview.
There are some things I want to say about mediation with me, things I hope you’ll ponder before we gather, things I hope will guide you as we talk. I may mention them a time or two during our time together.
Even after a dispute is resolved, conflict and tension can linger. Here’s how to find out what is stopping someone from letting go and moving on after conflict.
Conflict and suffering are confederates working in painful alliance, each feeding the other as if to ensure its own continued existence. If I turn away from the suffering in conflict, I deny a part of my clients’ experience. If I try to fix suffering, I assume a task that is not really mine to shoulder. […]
It’s tempting to feel triumphant when we successfully back our nemesis into a figurative corner. But it’s ill-advised triumph. Here are ways to address and prevent cornering in your own and others’ conflicts.
It feels natural to take notes while mediating or coaching, and coaching and mediation notes serve a purpose. While jotting down something really important is useful, taking notes throughout the session is often a mistake. Here’s how note-taking can be a bad habit and a barrier to effective mediating and coaching.
Better conflict resolution skills alone will only get you so far. How you use them is what makes the real difference. One of my mediation grad students had an epiphany about this in the midst of an argument with her husband. My Interpersonal Conflict Resolution class was just getting underway when Kate, very animated as […]
There’s no time like the holidays for good cheer and jolly times with family. And the stress that leads to conflict. Since life is short and the holiday season comes around just once a year, here are a professional mediator’s tips for disarming holiday conflict so you can focus on the joy and fun instead.
Here are three things your mediator probably won’t tell you (and why you should hire them anyway). 1. I’m not necessarily good at handling conflict in my own life I used to think it was just me, that I was the only mediator in the world who occasionally totally sucked at conflict in my own […]
Whether you’re mediating informally (as a leader, manager, friend) or professionally, this everyday activity can help you set the stage for a better conversation.
Pain and suffering often lie beneath conflict. What of this “beneath” is the business of conflict resolution professionals? How do we grow our capacity to bear witness without judging or fixing and to stay with our clients wherever they are? And how can we stay in the shadow of pain without carrying its weight on our own shoulders?
“What’s Dad doing?” said my sister, a note of concern in her voice. The other three of us turned to see our father making his way through the back yard. He was heading to the corner of the garden that served as our little pet cemetery. He had a shovel over his shoulder. And in his hand was the container holding our mother’s ashes.
Certainty and disinterest are conflict’s allies. Conflict resolution has allies, too. Among them are curiosity and genuine interest in the other person’s view of the world. It’s very difficult to make yourself curious in the midst of stress and difficulty if you do not also have this habit when you are relaxed. If you want […]
Next time you’re putting pressure on someone in a disagreement, step back and do what this political canvasser did when he knocked on our door recently.
Like a mediator in your living room.
A writer for Coca-Cola asked me for some stress-free holiday tips. Here’s my first tip and a link to the rest of the article:
1. Stay Well Fed
Lenski’s top tip for keeping calm is fairly simple to achieve in a time of year when food is often abundant. “Don’t let yourself get ‘hangry,’” she says.
“The self-control needed to deal with anger and aggression takes energy and our brains get that energy partly from glucose,” Lenski explains. “If we haven’t eaten properly, low blood sugar makes it harder to deal with confrontations and can cause us to lash out.”
If you find yourself saying something you might regret…
I’m thrilled to announce my brand new online course on staying calm, cool, and collected in conflict, negotiations, and confrontations.
As of right this second, I’m taking earlybird registrations for Calm, Cool, and Collected and I’ve got an introductory offer for those of you who sign up early.
Calm, Cool, and Collected is an online course for people who want to…
The train clanked and rattled through the suburbs of Tokyo on a drowsy spring afternoon. Terry Dobson’s car was mostly empty and he gazed absently out the window. When the doors open at one of the stations, the afternoon quiet was shattered by a man bellowing violent, incomprehensible curses. The man wore laborer’s clothing, and he was big, dirty, and very drunk. As Dobson watched the drunk on his train car, he realized that this was what he had been waiting for.
When you’ve got conflict resolution skills, you can’t help but notice all the situations around you that might benefit from your help. But how do you choose when to help informally and when to stay out of it? And, as a reader, Kate, asked, when is intervening in conflict the right call?
I’ve finally found the way to describe my work with the help of an image. Did you have drawing guides like the one above when you were a kid? I did. My brother is a gifted artist and I was his little sister, wishing I could draw and paint like he did. I got one […]
A dear friend had a stroke last week and she has lost the ability to speak, at least for now. To all appearances she looks almost fully recovered, yet her communication has been a mix of pain, frustration, and the occasional triumph.
As her friends form a circle of love around her, one of us next to her hospital bed every morning, afternoon, and evening to support her and try to interpret her gestures, scribbles, and diagrams, we hear again and again from the her medical team that the work ahead of her is to re-form the links, the neural pathways, that were damaged by the stroke.
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Mari Frank, host of the Prescriptions for Healing Conflict radio show on KUCI 88.9 FM, interviewed me for the show. If you weren’t able to listen live, here’s the recording:
If you’re a leader or manager, then part of your job is to help your people handle conflict optimally and resolve team conflict effectively. In some research I conducted a while back, leaders and managers said that they spent up to 40% of their time resolving conflict in workplace teams or helping specific team members […]
The Conflict Pivot isn’t only for people who want to resolve their own conflicts. It’s for mediators and other conflict resolution professionals like you and me, too–people who help people resolve their conflicts. I’ve been using the book’s principles and approaches in my mediations and consulting for years now and it’s changed the way I […]
When a conflict has been going on for a while, other ancillary conflicts tend to sprout around it. And sometimes those ancillary conflicts will linger even once the central conflict is resolved. It is the nature of conflict and here’s what to do about it.
Ed Catmull, President of Pixar and Disney Animation, puts it this way: “There is the problem you know you are trying to solve–think of that as an oak tree–and then there are all the other problems–think of these as saplings–that sprouted from the acorns that fell around it. And these problems remain after you cut the oak tree down.”
And he tells a great story to illustrate his point…