Good mediators know how to start a mediation in the best way for the particular people in the room with them at that very moment. They do not always start a mediation the same way from habit or because someone taught them to do it one way 10 years ago. They start at the beginning. […]
Using good process
Good problem-solving process is like a reliable GPS — it orients us to where we are, guides us around obstructions, and helps us reach our destinations. We disagree better when we have a coherent process for organizing information and navigating difficult conversations.
A better way to fix problems at work
If you are a manager or leader, you will be pressed to fix problems by suggesting or implementing solutions of your own. So work is fertile ground for you to learn how to resist the temptation some of the time. Practice helping them fix problems themselves. You’ll get credit for helping them develop and mature […]
Take it outside: Talk it out and walk it out
I stepped onto the sidewalk with my two mediation clients. It was a beautiful, sunny day in Boston, about 70 degrees, with a very light breeze. It felt great to be outdoors. They thought so, too. I pointed down the block. “Let’s head in the general direction of Chinatown,” I said as we began to […]
How to start a mediation like a pro (and an artist)
Sometimes the most direct path is the indirect one
For better creative thinking, disagree and criticize
Creativity and conflict can be important bedfellows. If you’re a fan of traditional brainstorming and its usual rules to generate creative ideas and solutions, it’s time to reconsider. You’ve heard the standard rules for brainstorming countless times: Share all the ideas that enter your head, unfiltered by your doubts or analysis. Zany ideas welcome. Don’t […]
None of that Kumbaya stuff
Conflict is a serious thing. Sometimes, a little levity can be a spark for better problem solving.
For better problem solving, flip the funnel
In problem solving it’s common for people to follow the 20/80 rule: They spend 20 percent of their time understanding the problem effectively, and 80 percent of their time generating and debating solutions. It’s far more time efficient and effective to flip that ratio and follow the 80/20 rule instead.
Don’t waste time on what really happened…it’s unknowable
“Our memories are not designed to provide a truthful readout of the events of our lives. Memory is designed to help us act in the future.” I read this quote in a Psychology Today article about how observing actions influences our memory of those actions. It sums up beautifully the way we can use and […]
The case of the barbie doll petticoat
The eBay buyer filed for online mediation. The item in question was a Barbie doll petticoat. The cost of the petticoat she’d just purchased on eBay? Less than $5. The cause of the conflict was a $5 Barbie petticoat? Apropos, I remember thinking, when I received the mediation case. Petty is the right word for […]
You can’t train your way out of organizational conflict
The answer to organizational conflict isn’t conflict resolution training. The answer isn’t team-building either. Both can be a form of organizational conflict avoidance. Why you can’t train or team-build your way out of organizational conflict Training is about taking your team and helping it move to the next higher level of performance. If there’s enough […]
Solving the right problem
Take the time to identify and name the joint problem on the front end.
The cat who meowed during evening meditation
There’s an old Zen koan, or traditional story, about the fallacy of rituals that have lost their relevance: During every evening meditation, the Zen master’s cat made so much noise with his plaintive meows that it drove both the master and his students to distraction. So the master ordered that his cat be fed freshly […]
The best time to resolve conflict
A conflict’s greatest opportunity for collaborative resolution is usually near the time it first occurred (if such a time can be known) or at least nearer the time it first entered your awareness. Sometimes, the triggering event is clear and memorable. Sometimes it’s elusive, building under the radar over time, brick by brick, small frustration […]
The case of the effing mediation participants
Harold stood up, snapped his briefcase shut dramatically, tossed his coat over his arm, and gestured to his legal team. “We’re leaving. This is over.” He turned and marched purposefully toward the conference room door, leaving his attorneys scrambling to gather their papers and catch up. “Hmmm,” I said. “I’m not sure of the best […]
The case of the doodling mediation participant
Sometimes it’s hard to tell whether or not your adversary is as interested in working things out as you are. We all do things in our own time, as the following story illustrates.
Slow down to go fast
Sometimes you’ve got to slow down to go fast.
Interpersonal conflict, runaway stories, and the legend of Rhonda Brickman
Runaway stories and effective interpersonal conflict resolution are like oil and water. Runaway stories are the experience of telling yourself a tall tale about the person you’re in conflict with. You catastrophize the situation, or project your own stuff onto them, or amplify their less commendable traits in the story you tell yourself. And the […]
7 simple hacks guaranteed to improve your meetings
When important matters and decisions are on the table for discussion, conversation can get a little tricky and difficult sometimes. You can prevent the conversation from getting tangled and tripped up by common pitfalls with a little care in language choice and a few simple strategies for staying on track and making clear decisions. I’ve […]
Mastering difficult conversations
If you’re a design professional, you may already subscribe to HOW Magazine, the graphic design community’s trusted source for creative inspiration, business advice, and tools of the trade. Is the December 2007 issue sitting in your reading pile? Pull it on out and turn to page 85! That’s where you’ll find Mastering Difficult Conversations, for […]
Confronting conflict: Raise an issue or let it go?
A participant in one of my conflict resolution workshops participants asked, “How do you know when it’s worth raising an issue and when it would be better to let it go?” Here are some guiding questions to help answer this question.