Conflict resolution and the ancient art of kintsugi

conflict resolution as kintsugi

What if, instead of viewing conflict as something that leaves permanent cracks and breaks in our relationships, we viewed those fault lines as testament to what the relationship has weathered? What if, instead of trying to ignore or hide the damage, we revered it, understanding that "as good as new" is a misguided goal? Artist Teresita Fernández was walking through the Metropolitan Museum of Art when her attention was caught by a broken piece of Greek pottery from 487 BC. Known as an … [Read more...]

Willpower and managing emotions during conflict


"Whatever you do, just don't let me stop running," I said to my husband as I laced up my running shoes and headed out the door. "I'll see you at about 9:45. Remember -- don't let me stop!" It was 1998 and I was training for my first marathon. I'd completed half marathons successfully. I'd been training faithfully, running every day, with a long run after work on Wednesdays and a longer run every weekend. It was early on a Saturday morning and I was about to run 20 miles. That was three miles … [Read more...]

Yesterday, today, and tomorrow


I was moved by this image and wanted to share it with you. It was created by Lucille Clerc the day of the Charlie Hebdo terrorist attack in Paris. I look at this image and I see more than a message about solidarity and free speech. I see the messages: Look at how I can choose to view what broke me down today. Look at how I can transform pain and heartbreak. Look at how I make myself strong again in new ways. What do you see? #JeSuisCharlie HT to … [Read more...]

4 simple stress-free holiday tips

red berries and snow

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 … [Read more...]

Conflict mastery with Cinnie Noble

sky and mountain reflecting on water

Every now and then a book comes along that belongs on everyone's reference bookshelf. The kind of book that will help you think better when you're stuck. The kind of book that will help you reflect more deeply when a conflict is taking too much space in your life. The kind of book that helps you discover your own answers instead of doling out advice that has a long shot of working in your life. Cinnie Noble's latest book, Conflict Mastery: Questions to Guide You, is just such a book. Listen … [Read more...]

New online conflict resolution course: Calm, Cool, and Collected

Calm, Cool, and Collected

December 12, 2014 -- 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... Crush their fear of conflict and be able to confront problems with confidence. Keep their cool and … [Read more...]

Mastering your inner game

inner game

Really good negotiation skills and knowledge won't completely do the trick. Learning the mechanics of confronting successfully usually isn't enough. Deeper conflict resolution toolboxes only get you part of the way there. You'll still be missing a crucial 25% (maybe even up to 50%) of the puzzle. Without that missing piece, you can't be fully on your game. And all the terrific conflict resolution and negotiation tools, techniques and skills in the world won't really make much of a difference … [Read more...]

In the midst of Ferguson chaos, an apology done right

Louis Head, image credit New York Times

It would have been easy for Louis Head to blame his raging words the other night fully on the grand jury. Or on the Ferguson, Missouri police department. Or on Office Darren Wilson. Or on racism and injustice. And if he had, there'd be a lot of people who would have given him a pass under the circumstances. But instead, Michael Brown's stepfather did something harder and he did it well. If you've been away from your television or the Internet or are outside the U.S., maybe you missed Louis … [Read more...]

Trigger stacking

trigger stacking

In February 2012, a large dog named Max had a drama-filled 24 hours and it ended in a good (if tragic) lesson about the dangers of trigger stacking. Max's day of drama began when he chased a fox out onto the thin ice of a reservoir. Then the ice broke and he spent 10-15 minutes in the cold water, struggling to survive, before firefighters were able to rescue him. Then he was paraded into the television studio of his local news affiliate, with people he didn't know, and unfamiliar sounds and … [Read more...]

Are you paying twice in a conflict?


Years ago, Harvard social psychologist Ellen Langer had a major fire that destroyed most of what she owned. She contacted her insurance company and they came the next day to assess the damage. After reviewing the damage and her substantial loss, the insurance agent said a curious thing to Langer. He said that this was the first call he'd ever had where it turned out the damage was worse than the call had indicated. Langer's reflections on his comment are invaluable: She thought, Well, gee, … [Read more...]

Sure you understand the other’s perspective? Take this test


"I understand her perspective but she doesn't even bother to try to understand mine." Every mediator or manager has heard a version of this while trying to sort out a conflict. Sometimes a version even wanders beguilingly through my own mind. Maybe one has wandered once or twice through your mind, too. It's so easy to see the ways that they don't understand us. And so much harder to see the ways we fail our own standard. What we need is a sort of Turing Test for conflict, an unbiased … [Read more...]

Why I’ve turned off blog comments

At the cafe

Inviting comments on your blog is like inviting someone into your home. Come on in, you say, let me get you a cup of coffee, what's on your mind? Sometimes it's an old friend you're inviting in, sometimes it's a new one you trust to treat you right once inside. So turning off the commenting function, as I have done, is not something to do lightly. I've been pondering doing it for a couple of years, before a few big guns blogs made the decision to do the same. I'm not big on bandwagons for … [Read more...]

Intervening in conflict when it’s not your job, part 2


[ Intervening in Conflict When It's Not Your Job, Part 1 ] 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. The man swung at a woman holding a baby. She fell into the laps of an … [Read more...]

The uncommon art of masterful problem framing


Father Gregory Boyle is a master at the art of problem framing and reframing. He is a Jesuit priest who founded and runs Homeboy Industries, a gang-intervention program in Los Angeles. One morning during his days as pastor of Dolores Mission Church, he began the homily with a most unusual question: "What’s the church smell like?" When his parishioners avoided eye contact, looking everywhere but at him, he asked again. "Come on, now, what's the church smell like?" An old man who didn't … [Read more...]

Intervening in conflict when it’s not your job, part 1


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 just wanted to let you know that what I got from that course was some of the most useful, valuable information and the techniques we learned serve me every day. I find your newsletter and gems I pick up … [Read more...]