This little light of mine

When someone does something that upsets you, do you get sidetracked and allow their actions or words to be the focal point of your response? Or do you stay your course, focused on the longer view of what you're committed to? Civil rights veteran Vincent Harding, who passed away last week, had some thoughts about this very question, and he shared them on the public radio show, On Being. His words are transcendent and are just as applicable to everyday conflict resolution as they are to civil … [Read more...]

When you inadvertently magnify a conflict

Conflict doesn't necessarily mean something fundamental has shifted in your business or personal relationship. It's possible the relationship is as sound and strong as it ever was. It's just hard to see that when the conflict is crowding out your wider view. I was reminded of this recently in an experience with a certain company whose services I use to manage a small digital aspect of my conflict resolution business. I've been using the company for years and have felt consistently well … [Read more...]

Sneak peak: My new book’s introduction

Jen, a mediation graduate student in my Interpersonal Conflict course, pointed to an excellent conflict resolution book we’d just read and said, “I love this book. And I hate it, too. It’s got so much to teach me, but I won’t remember it all. I just can’t keep track of that much advice.” She’d just summarized my own experience with favorite conflict resolution books and a protest I’d heard before: the sense that the best conflict resolution books help us understand our conflicts in fresh … [Read more...]

Sneak peak at the book cover

Hundreds of you gave your input on the first round of book cover designs for my forthcoming book, The Conflict Pivot. I thought I'd thank you by sharing a sneak peak at the final cover. The book should be out in June (fingers crossed); once I have the release date I'll post it far and wide. … [Read more...]

Anxiety about a difficult conversation? Try this.

Writing may be a very effective way to boost your performance in pressure-filled situations such as difficult conversations, suggests research out of The University of Chicago's Human Performance Lab. Even ten minutes of expressive writing (writing about your thoughts and feelings) immediately before a high-stress event can have a big impact on your anxiety level and on your performance says Psychology professor Sian Beilock, author of Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal About … [Read more...]

On retaliation

"There were times in my own life when I’ve been so hurt that I was sure retaliation would make me feel better. But inevitably, when I can’t harm the people who harmed me I just end up harming the people who love me. So maybe retaliation or holding onto anger about the harm done to me doesn’t actually combat evil. Maybe it feeds it." — Nadia Bolz-Weber, Pastrix: The Cranky, Beautiful Faith of a Sinner & Saint … [Read more...]

Vote for my book’s cover design

My latest book, The Conflict Pivot: Turning Conflict into Peace of Mind, is sitting on the editor's desk (well, in her computer). That means I've finally got my nose out of the writing app on my MacBook Air and am turning my attention to the many final details...including the all-important cover design. I've decided to crowdsource the cover design in order to make some really good suggestions to the publisher. Out of 86 entries received by designers from around the world, I've narrowed … [Read more...]

A conflict resolution playlist…or two

Thanks to everyone who suggested conflict resolution songs, I've put together not one but two conflict resolution playlists. You can stream the playlists with an Rdio account (it's free) or scroll down to see the list of songs on each playlist. Just in time for a little Friday afternoon listening... Conflict resolution playlist (lively) Conflict resolution playlist (mellow) Conflict resolution songs (lively) Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood - The Animals Let's Work Together - Canned … [Read more...]

The dance of criticism

Muhammad wrote me with the question, "What amounts to criticizing?" He told me about a difficult situation with his son, with whom he's presently living. He wrote, I came across your “Conflict Habits” information on my computer from when I don't recall, and after reading it (excellent information) I have a question...[personal information redacted]...he puts up the "criticizing me" defense, the "you are so self-righteous defense," the "you are so ungrateful for our helping you defense," and … [Read more...]

Ting, the chinese character for "to listen"

Have you ever seen the Chinese character ting, to listen? Many of you will have seen this already, I'm sure. For those of you seeing it for the first time, I hope you enjoy it and save a copy for yourself. I don't know how it is I've blogged here for so long and shared the following in workshops for so long, yet somehow never posted it for you. Consider the oversight rectified! … [Read more...]

The argument culture

"The argument culture urges us to approach the world—and the people in it—in an adversarial frame of mind. It rests on the assumption that opposition is the best way to get anything done: The best way to discuss an idea is to set up a debate; the best way to cover news is to find spokespeople who express the most extreme, polarized views and present them as “both sides”; the best way to settle disputes is litigation that pits one party against the other; the best way to begin an essay is to … [Read more...]

When the past holds you fast

Siblings who have inherited a family business approach me for help. Each makes a case for why the other siblings shouldn’t have power, shouldn’t be trusted, and are damaging the business. They are, of course, playing out a lifetime of wounds not forgotten. Their coalitions change and morph, several against one, then several others against a different one. They are playing out decades of frustration with each other and while they maneuver and fight, their business is in ever deeper … [Read more...]

Great conflict resolution starts with great problem finding

A group of students at the Art Institute of Chicago approached two large tables holding 27 random objects. They'd been asked to select some objects and draw a still life. Some examined just a few items, selected ones that interested them, and got right down to drawing. Others handled more of the objects, turning them over many times before selecting the ones that interested them. They rearranged their chosen objects several times and took longer to complete the assigned still life. Two … [Read more...]

Why learning conflict resolution skills won't help

The way you view conflict has a tremendous impact on the way you respond and react to the conflicts in your life. Learning better, shinier, or newer conflict resolution skills won't make the kind of difference you think it will, unless you also reconsider what you believe about conflict in general. If you view conflict as a fight, you ask yourself, How can I win it? If you view conflict as a problem, you ask, How can I fix it? If you view conflict as a catastrophe, you ask, How can I avoid … [Read more...]