Conflict Zen is about mindful, simplified conflict resolution in business and personal relationships. I write about dissolving conflict and tension, transforming conflict by changing only our own responses to it, creating solutions that stand the test of time, and developing calm, intentional reactions to conflict.
I remember the first time I succeeded in a mediation. I was a newbie mediator, just barely out of my studies and on my own. A university dean I knew from my own days as a college dean hired me to mediate a nagging workplace conflict involving eight women in the same office. There had been fireworks.
“When we’re truly listening we have to anticipate that we might become changed by what we heard.”
So notes acoustic ecologist Gordon Hempton, founder of The One Square Inch of Silence Foundation based in Joyce, Washington. Hempton, who defines real quiet not as an absence of sound but as an absence of noise, recently chatted with public radio’s On Being host Krista Tippett. I particularly appreciated this exchange during the program, The Last Quiet Places:
This is the fourth in my short series of favorite conflict resolution videos suggested by readers of this blog.
The following video, We Are Sinking from Berlitz, isn’t a conflict resolution video at all. But it is about communication and it’s been an audience favorite in my conflict resolution keynotes and workshops because all of us have experienced the ways miscommunication can create, escalate, and drag out conflict. Beneath the video I’ve listed articles with more tips for improving communication during conflict.
This is the third in my short series of favorite conflict resolution videos suggested by readers of this blog.
The Argument Clinic is a Monty Python classic, funny because magnifies the uncomfortably familiar habits some of us fall into. For more on how to argue effectively, check the list below the video.
This is the second in my short series of favorite conflict resolution videos suggested by readers of this blog.
This one, It’s Not About the Nail, is a recent addition to my list, added after more than 15 readers and friends sent it to me over the past week!
Over the years many readers of this blog have shared with me their favorite conflict resolution videos, particularly the funny ones that teach a good, brief lesson at the same time. Over the next few weeks, I’m going to features some of my favorites from those sent to me, along with a short list of posts I’ve written on the topic featured in the videos.
In the video below, Big Bang Theory‘s Sheldon attempts to apologize to Amy for his bad behavior. Eventually, he gets it right. Scroll down past the video to see my list of articles about how to apologize.
I created this poster as a handout for a conflict resolution workshop I’m teaching this week and thought you might enjoy it, too. Click the image below to get the downloadable PDF…feel free to share and print.
It’s so simple to advise, “Don’t take it personally.” And yet, too often, it’s utterly useless advice to someone in conflict. There’s something else they have to do first, before they can hope to stop taking it personally:
They have to take it more personally.
“The reward of our work is not what we get, but what we become,” says Brazilian author Paolo Coehlo. He may have intended those words to speak to the writer, but they also speak to other work…to my work and probably to your work.
The reward of great conflict resolution and successful negotiation isn’t just what we get from it …
We are natural storytellers, so it’s no surprise that we would tell stories about our conflicts, too. Story-making and story-telling about our conflict is natural and not, on its own, a problem. The problem comes with our attachment to those stories and our mistaken belief that our story is a retelling of…
Trying to control anger by focusing on angry thoughts and hurt feelings is like fanning the flames. It’s far more effective to pretent you’re a fly on the wall of a situation, new research confirms.
In situations that trigger anger, you probably tend to focus on your anger and hurt, trying to understand it, get the other person to see what they’ve done, perhaps even wallowing in it a bit, self-righteously. You allow yourself to be immersed in it.
But it’s a trap.
Knowing your conflict hooks and how to handle them is like having a conflict resolution magic wand: You have portable power to turn the little conflicts into nothing and the bigger conflicts into manageable ones.
We had just moved from the Burlington, Vermont area to a small town in New Hampshire. The move had been a whirlwind, our Vermont house selling in a matter of days, far faster than we anticipated, and resulting in a new house purchased in a day, a moving van scheduled in a narrow window, and a mad rush to sift and pack a lifetime of belongings.
The day after we moved…
A friend was sitting at her desk, her beloved lab at her feet. Suddenly, the dog yelped and looked up at her. This happened several more times, the dog’s gaze becoming increasingly more accusatory. Finally, he got up and left the room.
Later, she learned…
How do you decide how much of a relationship conflict’s flotsam is worth pursuing? How do you focus on the important matters in a relationship conflict and not get sidetracked by trivial ones? Janet, a reader, contacted me about my recent post, Starting a Difficult Conversation. She asked,
Being exposed to arguments between parents is associated with the way babies’ brains process emotional tone of voice, according to a new study to be published in Psychological Science.
“The researchers found that infants from high conflict homes showed greater reactivity to…
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.
A colleague shared the closet metaphor with me years ago and I’ve passed it along to countless others since. The messy, over-filled hall closet was a running gag on the 1930s-1950s radio show. Chaos ensued whenever someone opened the closet door and the contents spilled out (click here to listen to the closet door being opened…go ahead, I’ll wait).
When you start a difficult conversation…
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I’ll be in Fayetteville and Little Rock, Arkansas in April to teach full-day special topics seminars for the Arkansas Conflict Resolution Association. If you’re a mediator in the region, I’d love to meet you in person at one of these two mediation training seminars!
Both seminars have already been approved for Arkansas CLE/CME credits (including ethics), you can attend even if you’re not an ACRA member, and earlybird registration rates are good for a few more days. Both mediation training seminars are suitable for both new and advanced practitioners and both are also suitable for conflict management coaches and other ADR professionals. Registration and information links are at the bottom of this post.
People under stress start paying more attention to positive information and discounting negative information associated with the decision, say researchers.
Important implications for negotiation and mediation, if the outcome desired is hoped to stand the test of time.
There are some things I want to say about mediation with me, things I hope you’ll ponder before we gather, things I hope can guide you as we talk. I may mention them a time or two during our time together.
On Thursday the Association for Conflict Resolution is sponsoring a teleseminar led by Susanne Terry and me. We’ll be discussing how to master our craft through better use of “self as instrument.” Here’s a description of the teleseminar:
I’m disillusioned with terms like “conflict management” and “conflict resolution,” though I continue to use them. I use them because I haven’t yet found an optimal replacement.
When I’m in conflict, I’m not particularly interested in managing it. From the midst of turbulence, “management” of conflict feels almost ridiculous, like trying to contain a cat that’s just fallen in a full bathtub.
I’m delighted to announce that I’ve become the very first conflict resolution professional accepted into the Association for Conflict Resolution’s new Academy of Advanced Practitioners.
The Academy is a new designation recognizing conflict resolution practitioners who have an advanced level of preparation and experience. I applied for and have been accepted in three specialized practice areas that represent the core of my work for the last 15+ years:
People who act badly in conflict are not broken. In a culture where problem-solving and fixing are highly valued, I fear that we too often take aim at our fellow humans with the same orientation as we do a broken bicycle or an ineffective policy. We roll up our figurative sleeves and get to work on fixing whatever we think ails them.
When someone is acting badly in conflict, there are so many more compassionate ways to respond. It turns out that they’re also far more effective, too. In such moments, I try to…
Four quick announcements about upcoming conflict resolution workshops and an article in Businessweek:
Calming the storm in Vermont
If you were turned away from my February 12 workshop, Calming the Storm: De-Escalating High-Heat Encounters because it had sold out, here’s some good news: Marlboro Grad School has moved the workshop to a larger space so we can accommodate more participants. The above link takes you to a description and registration link.