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 […]
Choosing good process
Discover ways to navigate difficult conversations more effectively.
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 […]
Sometimes the most direct path is the indirect one
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 […]
Conflict is a serious thing. Sometimes, a little levity can be a spark for better problem solving.
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.
“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 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 […]
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 […]
Don’t be Dilbert’s pointy-hair boss
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
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.
Sometimes you’ve got to slow down to go fast.
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 […]
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 […]
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 […]
One of my recent conflict resolution workshop participants raised his hand. “How do you know when it’s worth raising an issue and when it would be better to let it go?”
Have you ever been bursting with a great idea, only to have the door metaphorically shut in your face? I call those dialogue-stoppers “door closers,” and while they’re often delivered in a way that sounds firm and permanent, the right question can often re-open that door.