Conflict resolution workshop for leaders and managers: Registration now open

Registration is now open for my upcoming conflict resolution workshop, Breaking the Conflict Cycle: The Leader and Manager as Conflict Coach. Every organizational leader and manager has the experience of dealing with a steady flow of conflictual situations landing in their lap. They become expert at offering good advice and efficiently solving problems only to have similar ones come back through the door. This conflict resolution workshop is designed to help business/organizational … [Read more...]

The fine line

"What's Dad doing?" said my sister, a note of concern in her voice. The other three of us turned to see our father making his way through the back yard. He was heading to the corner of the garden that served as our little pet cemetery. He had a shovel over his shoulder. And in his hand was the container holding our mother's ashes. My brother said, "He's not about to do what I think he's about to do, is he?" My two older sisters, my brother and I were sitting on our parents' bed, … [Read more...]

How to be a problem-solving superhero without fixing it yourself

Years ago, a student came to my office with a problem. I was a dean at the time and I had many appointments like this in an average day. Sometimes they were problems with a professor, sometimes they were problems with a parent, sometimes with a boss at an off-campus job. Not uncommonly they were problems with a roommate, a friend, or someone in campus administration. Most of these problems involved conflict. To give you a sense of what it's like to be a dean, I'll tell you that when I left … [Read more...]

The primal roots of blame, defensiveness, and reactivity

Handling blame, defensiveness, and high reactivity during conflict can challenge both the informal mediators and professional conflict resolvers among us. I've found that the "primal lens" for considering possible roots of these behaviors to be really helpful and want to share it with you. Eons ago, being ostracized from your tribe meant, in all probability, death. You'd be left alone to find sustenance and defend yourself against wild animals for whom you were sustenance. It's not hard to … [Read more...]

Talking conflict pivots on the texas conflict coach radio show

Fellow conflict resolution professional Pattie Porter invited me to be on her radio show, The Texas Conflict Coach. Thank you, Pattie, and to your co-hosts, Zena Zumeta and Tracy Culbreath for some good conversation about my book, The Conflict Pivot. Check Out Relationships Podcasts at Blog Talk Radio with Texas Conflict Coach on BlogTalkRadio … [Read more...]

The simple, everyday habit that will make you better at conflict resolution

Certainty and disinterest are conflict's allies. Conflict resolution has allies, too. Among them are curiosity and genuine interest in the other person's view of the world. It's very difficult to make yourself curious in the midst of stress and difficulty if you do not also have this habit when you are relaxed. If you want to get better at conflict resolution, sometimes it's what you practice outside of conflict that matters (Click to tweet). Last fall I was in a pharmacy in Lyndonville, … [Read more...]

Conflict resolution activities: Pinhole vision exercise

Make a fist with a 1-inch hole in the center, as though you've wrapped your fingers around a broomstick. Go ahead, do it right now. No one's looking. Now hold your slightly opened fist up to one eye like you're Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean. Look through the 1-inch hole. How much of your surroundings do you see? If you were to do this while looking at someone across the table from you, how much of them would you see? If someone is near you, try it right now. Now growl … [Read more...]

Practice-building course for mediators and coaches

When I started my full-time conflict management coaching, training, and mediation private practice in 1997, certain questions dogged me more than others. I've noticed those same questions coming up in the graduate marketing course I've taught for two conflict resolution programs. And they come up all the time in workshops with mediators and coaches — even when I'm there to teach something other than practice-building, like advanced mediation or handling high conflict situations. These are … [Read more...]

Leaving room for the door to open

Our doorbell rang. Again. It had been ringing a lot in the past few weeks, as the political races wound down to election day. Here in New Hampshire, home of the first presidential primary every four years, we like to say that "politics is up close and personal." Every serious candidate comes to our town. We get to see them in person, even shake hands and ask a question. We discuss what we think of the latest visitor with the bartender at the pub and with the woman standing ahead of us in the … [Read more...]

Our narratives reflect who we are

Somewhere in the Pacific Ocean, a single whale calls out again and again and again. Whale 52, as he's known, has never been seen by humans. But he has been heard. For years. His call has been recorded and it's in a frequency that matches no other whale species. Maybe that's why no other whale seems to have answered him and why 52 continues to swim and call, swim and call. The media has dubbed him The Loneliest Whale in the World. A Kickstarter campaign is trying to fund an expedition by … [Read more...]