Favorite conflict resolution lessons and stories, part 1

We’re in the midst of my 10-year blogiversary celebration, a retrospective of the blog for the past decade. I’m sharing both personal favorites and crowd favorites, those posts that make me smile, are good representatives for how I think and work, and/or continue to generate a lot of email from readers.


If you’ve been around the blog for any length of time, you know I particularly like to tell stories and believe that stories are terrific ways to learn and remember an idea. So it’s fitting that I’m going to kick off the blogiversary retrospective with favorite conflict resolution lessons and stories. I’ll share five today and five more a few days from now.

Don’t forget…I’m giving away prizes as part of the month-long party, so every time you leave a comment or share one of my blog posts on your favorite social media site, you get an entry into the drawing. You can find the details here.

Take off your tarantula before the difficult conversation

I once mediated a dispute with a large tarantula eyeing me the entire time from the shoulder of a participant.

It was unsettling. As, I suppose, it was intended to be.

The case was a dispute between three middle-aged siblings locked in combat over their father’s will. The siblings had more than half a century of baggage between them, compounded by two years of litigation since dad died, and I was asked by their attorneys to get the matter resolved before lunch… read on

I didn’t do it intentionally

I can get pretty inward-focused when I’m working on a project, so much so that I tend not to pay much attention to what’s going on around me. I know I’m really absorbed when I start to notice small bruises on my legs and arms. They come from my banging into door jambs as I walk around oblivious to my surroundings, thinking about whatever I’m thinking about. That’s pathetic, isn’t it.

Door jambs are not my only victims. My husband also bears the brunt of this over-absorption. One evening I opened a kitchen cabinet door into his head… read on

Conflict Zen® and the overflowing teacup

When I packed my bags for college, my big sister gave me a book to put in my suitcase. It was beautifully bound and just the right size in my hands. I carry the book with me still, decades later. The very first story in Zen Flesh, Zen Bones has received me as a visitor more times than I can count:

A Cup of Tea
Nan-in, a Japanese master during the Meiji era, received a university professor who came to inquire about Zen. Nan-in served tea. He poured his visitor’s cup full, and then kept on pouring… read on

Solutions depend on how we frame the problem

I recently had an experience that reminded me that the way we think about a problem influences the solutions we can see or are willing to see.

Many of you know that I teach mediation in a graduate mediation program at Woodbury College in Vermont. The curriculum includes some online courses and I teach a few of them. My students this term had never, to my knowledge, taken an online course before and all of them had gone through our in-person courses at the undergraduate level. The online experience, with both its power and its frustrations, was new. Let me emphasize frustrations here, since that became front and center for some of the students… read on

Channeling Elaine: How Seinfeld helped me apologize

My Man from the Midwest, Rod, is a major Seinfeld fan. He still tunes in old episodes many evenings, though they’re all pretty well known to him already. I enjoyed Seinfeld when it was originally on t.v. but am not generally someone who wants to see any show again and again…and again.

But Elaine came to my rescue the other day, bless her. So maybe all that viewing paid off…I said something I shouldn’t have. To Rod. It was grumpy and mean-spirited. It came out of my mouth before I thought about it and hung there in the air, threatening to ruin a perfectly decent evening… read on