It’s not news that understanding the other person’s key interests is a crucial skill for your negotiation skills toolbox. I knew that when I went into the contract negotiation in the following story…and I almost blew it anyway. It took a question born out of desperation to teach me that some interests can be elusive, […]
Recognize mental models
Reveal the “invisible architecture” of your important conversations.
There seem to be two routes to empathy. One will tax you more.
Skills alone will only get you so far.
We put people, places, things, and ideas into categories. Categories help us navigate the world and it’s natural to categorize. We categorize in conflict, too. But the tension of conflict increases the chances we’ll make category errors — and category errors can really get in the way of conflict resolution. It’s two o’clock in the […]
We seek out allies when we’re in conflict because allies make us feel strong and right and reasonable. But in trying to be helpful, our allies may actually help perpetuate the conflict by boosting our certainty. When we’re being tested by a conflict, what we want isn’t an ally, it’s a loving provocateur.
The next time someone declines to take responsibility for words or actions that had a bad impact, don’t immediately assume it’s a flaw in their character. Maybe it’s just their protective brain doing its job. We flip a light switch and the light turns on or off. We experience agency in that moment — the […]
Conflict takes root in the space between our narrative about what happened and theirs. One way to understand conflict resolution is as the act of weaving a new joint narrative, one that includes the most valuable threads in each story A fan approached bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert at a book signing. The woman said, “Eat […]
Resist that all-or-nothing language and thought
How one momentary pause can transform your conversation.
A way to help couples overcome relationship conflict
When you’re at the edge of a cliff, sometimes progress is a step backward.
Challenging problems often demand that we push beyond familiar options and explore new territory in order to solve them. But leaving the familiar behind is uncomfortable and sometimes unpleasant. When we can stop ourselves from hurrying out of the “groan zone” and doing the important work we need to do there, our problem solving is […]
Under-match the behavior.
How to deal with difficult people? It’s one of the most frequent questions I’m asked in my workshops and by readers, friends, and grad students. Here’s my strategy for dealing with difficult people and why it so consistently works. Occasionally I am difficult. I don’t set out to be difficult and I may not even […]
Memory doesn’t exist to help us perfectly recall things in our lives. It’s there to help us survive. And to do its job properly, memory must evolve. Here’s a quick recap of the ways memory is flawed and why arguing about the accuracy of memories is like running on a gerbil wheel and expecting to get somewhere new.
When an action has bad impact, how you think about that impact can play a significant role in triggering and escalating blame and conflict. And despite how rational you believe you are, there’s a thinking error that can lead you down a very irrational path. It’s called the Knobe Effect. Cognitive (thinking) errors are thought […]
When we need to get out of our own way, there’s a simple yet powerful exercise we can use to help. It doesn’t take much practice — just commitment for a few minutes. Here’s one of my favorite conflict resolution activities for changing emotional state and tricking my mind into being more helpful in the […]
It’s hard to stand in someone else’s shoes when you’re in conflict with them. It can feel too close, like you’re being asked to stop being you and try to be them for a moment. Here’s an alternative that’s easier to pull off and as familiar to you as going to the movies.
We think of belief as something that “is.” But how might conflict unfold differently if we were to consider our belief about the other person not as fact, but as a working hypothesis? What might be possible if understood our belief as something that may or may not eventually prove true?
I’ve heard the following five observations repeatedly during my two decades as a mediator, coach, and conflict resolution teacher. All five miss the mark in important ways and we should stop repeating them.