Favorite conflict resolution lessons and stories, part 2

A mediation colleague and friend of mine, Lee Bryan, describes stories as the perfect way to create a “hook” in your brain – something on which you can hang an idea for easier retrieval later.


Here are five more of my favorite stories from the past decade on the blog, which I’m sharing as part of my 10-year blogiversary celebration. You can find the first five favorite conflict resolution lessons and stories here.

There are prizes too and you get entered every time you comment on my blog or share one of my posts on your own blog or favorite social media site during the month of January 2012.

Be the bedouin: spend more time understanding before problem-solving

A man walking in the desert approached a Bedouin. “How far to the nearest oasis?” he inquired.

The Bedouin did not respond. “I said, how far is it to the nearest oasis?” the man asked, a bit more loudly this time and enunciating his words very carefully.

The Bedouin still did not respond. The man shook his head in frustration, turned, and began to walk away… read on

The secret to de-escalating loud, angry conflict

The bailiff unlocked the small courtroom. After telling me to make myself at home, he pointed to a small red button on the wall. “If you need me, just press that button and I’ll be in here faster than you can blink an eye. It’s an emergency button.”

“Ok, thanks,” I replied, and began to unpack my briefcase. “I mean it,” he said. “Just press the button. Maybe you should set up your chair so you’re near it.”

I gave him a long look. “You seem to want me to know about that button. Is there something else you want to tell me?” … read on

What everyone ought to know about conflict management skills

So, you want to get better at your difficult conversations at work or home. Maybe some new conflict management tools will make a difference, right?

Not quite. Formulas, recipes and active listening will only get you so far. I generally believe that most people I meet in my workshops and conflict management coaching already have all or many of the good skills they need to manage conflict well. It’s not so much about building better skills. As with all tools, it’s about what you do with them…how you put them to work.

A few years ago, my Interpersonal Conflict class was just getting underway when Kate, very animated as she came in, raised her hand. “Can I tell a quick story about something that happened to me this morning?… read on

The crucial difference between yelling at and yelling toward

The woman was screaming and yelling at the top of her lungs. Cursing a blue streak. Waving her arms wildly. And it was me she was addressing as we stood together on the sidewalk of a small town during evening drivetime. I still remember the faces of driver after driver slowing down to watch the spectacle as they passed. And wondering how long I had before someone called the police.

About twelve years ago I agreed to mediate a very contentious conflict in a small co-housing community. By the time they called me, things had escalated so badly that verbal altercations between neighbors were commonplace and everyone’s inner lizards were calling the shots… read on

This is what happens to people who live with mediators

We bought a new stove last week. It has a lot of electronic bells and whistles. Our old stove, ca. 1974 (I know, I know), could never have dreamed of such gadgetry.

The old stove’s timer emitted a honking blast of noise that just kept going until one of us ran into the kitchen, hands over our ears, to turn it off. The new stove’s timer beeps in a pretty little way when the time is up. If we don’t go in and press the keypad, it’ll beep again in about a minute. Makes sense…wouldn’t want to burn the dog biscuits because we missed one beep.

Last night… read on