February 21, 2017
When someone is emotionally swamped by anger, it can be helpful to redirect them temporarily away from their feelings and engage their cognitive capacities. The following invitation helps de-escalate anger particularly well and deserves a permanent home in your conflict resolution toolbox.
February 14, 2017
It s hard to listen deeply from inside an argument. And it s even harder when the other person seems to be hogging air time. Good listening can have an inadvertent side effect and here s one way I like to do deal with it.
February 7, 2017
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.
January 31, 2017
Being able to say no is essential for good day-to-day negotiating. Yet it can evoke anxiety about appearing obstructive, unkind, or unhelpful. If you want a way to keep yourself from saying yes when you really do need to say no, pack this research-supported technique in your toolkit.
January 24, 2017
Not all disagreements require long talks to resolve them sufficiently. Sometimes you can use a pre-agreed principle to get them done and get on with your day. Here are two worth considering for your workplace team or family.
January 17, 2017
New research is challenging the notion that thinking, problem solving, and decision making take place strictly in the head. And finally giving me some credibility when placing interactive toys in the middle of my mediation table.
January 10, 2017
There’s a difference between being justified in your response and the response being a good choice. Here’s a question I’ve found useful for gaining a little psychological distance in the heat of the moment and interrupting a response I might regret later.
January 3, 2017
We tell stories about our conflicts. We tell them to our colleagues, our partners, our friends. Mostly, we tell them to ourselves. And we forget that these stories aren’t the story of the conflict, they’re our story of the conflict.
December 13, 2016
Want to break the advice-giving habit but aren’t sure what to do instead? Want someone else to stop giving you unsolicited advice all the time? Here’s a good question to ask in those moments and a simple alternative to giving advice when what they really want is someone to listen.
December 6, 2016
I read voraciously, a pile of books and articles monthly. Many are interesting and informative, but a few stand out because they influenced my thinking or behavior in a significant way. As I join others in looking back at 2016, here are the standouts that stuck with me and that I ve most frequently mentioned to others.
November 29, 2016
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.
November 22, 2016
I ve written that anger is a messenger that won t shut up until its message is heard and understood. But if the anger is so big or so loud you can t hear straight, there are things you can do to help someone calm down. And a few things you shouldn t do like these five missteps.
November 15, 2016
Watch a good mediator at work and you ll likely notice that good questions are her stock-in-trade. Watch a masterful negotiator and you ll see the same. If you want better conflict resolution results, learn how to ask questions that shift thinking and prompt fresh ideas.
November 8, 2016
Conflict can rob you of two precious mental faculties useful for sorting things out: The ability to view the situation from the other person’s perspective and the ability to check your impulses. New research suggests that your future self can help you recapture those abilities.
November 1, 2016
When we deliver or receive information in a totalizing way, we make a difficult conversation needlessly more difficult. Here’s how to resist this type of all-or-nothing thinking and take some of the pain out of disagreements and negative feedback.
October 25, 2016
Conflict in personal, professional and business relationships leaves permanent cracks and breaks behind. What if, instead of trying to ignore or hide the damage, we revered it, understanding that better than new is more valuable than “good as new”?
October 18, 2016
Some people do conflict loudly, whether due to familial or cultural roots, habit, or a low boiling point. When you want to interrupt someone’s habitual yelling during conflict, try to make the request without contributing to the fight.
October 11, 2016
Chronic or unresolved conflict can trigger us to react based on what has happened in the past even when the present circumstances don’t warrant that reaction. In those instances, the conflict may be very real but not entirely true.
October 4, 2016
When friction enters a working relationship, sometimes the best path through isn t to talk it out. Sometimes the best path through is an indirect one ask for a favor. Here s how the Ben Franklin Effect works.
September 27, 2016
Feeling dissed? Here’s how to raise concerns about disrespect in a way that increases dialogue and decreases pushback.
September 20, 2016
Thinking about the future helps couples overcome relationship conflict and view the situation in a more reasoned and positive light, according to new research. Here’s how to use the researchers’ simple mental exercise to create psychological distance from a conflict and dial down the heat of an argument.
September 13, 2016
During conflict, focusing mostly on anger's behavior instead of on anger's real message is like burying the lede in a news story.
September 6, 2016
You don’t get better at listening during conflict by practicing during conflict. You get better at listening during conflict by practicing outside of conflict, where the stakes are lower and it’s easier to be on top of your game. Here are three easy ways to practice giving your full attention and being a good listener
August 30, 2016
Strengthening your conflict resolution chops isn’t about learning a new skill and then trying to use it in your most difficult conversations. Just as you wouldn’t start running and try a marathon the following week, acquiring more successful conflict resolution habits is about a slow, steady build. Start with 30-second chunks.
August 23, 2016
This traditional Zen koan, or story, is called The Gift of Insults.
August 16, 2016
“That’s not my problem” are four of the most frustrating words to hear when you’re trying to talk through a conflict. They’re dismissive and may leave you feeling powerless to resolve the problem. Here are three tried-and-true ways to get problem-solving moving forward again.
August 9, 2016
Bickering, an argument about trivial matters, is one of those everyday bad habits that feeds the growth of destructive conflict in a relationship. When you teach yourself how to stop getting sucked into bickering, you give yourself and your relationship some fresh air. Here s a short phrase that can help.
August 2, 2016
When you’re stuck on a problem or feeling angry, briefly distancing yourself psychologically from the current circumstances can give you emotional relief and actually help you solve the problem. Here are five simple and potent ways to gain psychological distance (and help others do the same) when you’re spinning your wheels in a conflict conversation.
July 26, 2016
Starting a difficult conversation (or negotiation or mediation) can feel like opening Fibber McGee’s closet — chaotic, overwhelming, and hope-sucking. But don’t run.
July 19, 2016
Confronting is an essential negotiation, conflict resolution, and problem-solving skill. Being confrontational, though, will usually do you more harm then help. Here’s a mediator’s tip for how to confront someone and raise an issue for discussion without being aggressive or argumentative.
July 12, 2016
Resolving conflict and other complex problems demands that we push beyond the familiar options and explore new territory. But leaving the familiar behind is uncomfortable and sometimes unpleasant. Even so, staying in the “groan zone” and doing the important work there leads to better results.
July 5, 2016
When responding to someone else s difficult behavior during conflict, a good rule of thumb is, Use the lowest level of intervention first. Here s why this convention is useful for managing difficult behavior and a concrete example to illustrate.
June 28, 2016
For decades, non-verbal communication has been lauded as an important part of establishing connection and understanding with others. Now a new study suggests non-verbals aren’t as key as we think.
June 21, 2016
When I wanted to curb my habit of interrupting my husband, I turned to an old rubber band trick for practicing the replacement behavior (wait until he finishes his sentence, count to two, then speak) enough to make it stick. Here are the simple instructions and some uses.
Examples of behaviors you can practice with this method
June 14, 2016
One of the most frequent questions I’m asked in my workshops is how to deal with difficult people. Here’s my strategy for dealing with difficult people and why it so consistently works.
June 7, 2016
When someone is angry and loud, trying to control them is not only an exercise in futility, but can also have an unintended consequence it can escalate them. Here s one powerful alternative.
May 31, 2016
A dispute is not the same as a conflict. Mediation is different from facilitation. Here's the language I use when asked to define these terms.
May 24, 2016
How to reduce cognitive load during conflict resolution and free up working memory needed for concentration, reasoning and decision making.
May 17, 2016
What does it mean to hold the space for someone who s trying to get somewhere different in a conflict? And how do we hold that space, whether we re a friend trying to help, a manager trying to intervene, or a mediator trying to find a path to resolution? To illustrate, I'm sharing a beautiful story from writer, teacher, and social activist Parker Palmer.
May 10, 2016
Whakawhanaungatanga is a Māori process for establishing relationships. In the following interview I explore the tradition, identity, trust-building, and conflict resolution with Hilary Unwin, a mediator with the New Zealand Human Rights Commission, and Pereri Hathaway, senior administrator with the Human Rights Commission. Pereri's work centers on helping the Commission work with indigenous peoples in New Zealand and finding ways to provide support for indigenous peoples there and around the world.
The conversation begins with Hilary and Pereri introducing themselves and giving you a first glimpse of the whakawhanaungatanga process. I hope you'll enjoy our exploration of identity, connection, trust, family, and our place in the world.
May 3, 2016
The groan zone is that uneasy, messy stage of conflict where it's hard to see that anything good is going to come. Don't hurry out of it.
April 26, 2016
New research has identified six elements to an apology, and the more of those elements you include, the more effective your apology. But not all six elements are equally valuable. Two are particularly crucial to having your apology accepted.
April 19, 2016
My friend, 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.
April 12, 2016
Even after a dispute is resolved, conflict and tension can linger. Even when you ve made every effort to resolve a conflict, the other person may seem stuck in it still. Is there anything you can do when someone you live, work with, or serve doesn t seem to be moving on after conflict? There is, but first, you need to understand why.
April 5, 2016
How do you reduce resistance? What are the best ways to handle difficult people? What tactics overcome impasse? How can you get someone to ___? These questions all have something in common: They position you to work on someone, instead of with them. What if we revoked our self-appointed permission to work on other people, and pushed ourselves to work with them instead? And what would it mean for the way we act and speak and manage and mediate?
March 29, 2016
Positive affirmations may popular, but if you want to influence behavior, questions trump statements. But not just any old questions. Two types of questions in particular can create powerful psychological leverage for changing your own and others’ behavior.
March 22, 2016
What makes negative feedback palatable and what makes it harder to digest? In my public life as a mediator, author, speaker and blogger, it comes down to this: The kindness of the delivery.
March 15, 2016
The stress of conflict has ramifications we re only just beginning to understand: We can apparently catch someone else s stress physiologically. Acute stress can desensitize us to another s pain. And stress from the presence of a stranger may reduce the ability to empathize. But 15 minutes of shared experience might just help.
March 8, 2016
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. Here's one way I've found it helpful to think about, respond to, and help ease suffering.
March 1, 2016
Design thinking is helping designers, engineers, and entrepreneurs solve problems more successfully and develop better products. Here’s how conflict resolvers can use one of design thinking’s most powerful steps to achieve better outcomes.