Stay up to date on everything mediation!

Subscribe to our free newsletter,
"This Week in Mediation"

Sign Up Now

Already subscribed No subscription today
Mediate.com

Fear and Loathing Near Las Vegas

by Dan Simon
August 2012

Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation

Dan Simon

I haven’t seen it done in a while but in the past if a business wanted to draw attention to itself for a big event, it would bring in a huge spotlight that would illuminate the night sky and grab the interest of everyone from miles around. I think that particular visual is a great analogy for what sometimes happens in a conflict. The issue starts out being about one person and ends up with the focus—or the spotlight—on the other. And, surprising, how the spotlight moves its focus from one to the other isn’t always due to the first person trying to blame shift.

We’ve all dealt with people who have plenty of excuses about others. Add in some victim-like speak and you have blame shifting at its best. But that’s not what I’m talking about here. What I am talking about is how the other person responds and how that response can morph them from being the innocent bystander to the one with the gigantic spotlight focused squarely on them. Oops!

When one over-reacts, refuses to talk, goes around/over/behind the chain of command, or flails around like a five-year-old, they run the risk of making themselves the problem and shifting the focus of attention. In the blink of an eye you can go from minding your own business to having the powers that be all up in your business. So, how do you avoid such a thing? Do the opposite of overreacting, refusing to talk, or flailing around. Show concern for any issues (no matter who brings them) and talk the situation through in a way that keeps the spotlight aimed in the other direction. Then, move on in the shadows until the light shines on you for the right reasons (like for your amazing ability to handle conflict!).

Biography


Dan Simon writes the blog for the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation. He is a national leader in the field of transformative mediation.  He practices and teaches it in Saint Paul, Minnesota.  He's trained mediators throughout the country for the U.S. Postal Service, the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation, and as an Adjunct Professor at the Hofstra University School of Law. He serves on the Minnesota Supreme Court's ADR Ethics Board, is the Immediate Past Chair of the Minnesota State Bar Association's ADR Section; and he serves on the Board of Directors of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation. He has been the director of Twin Cities Mediation since he founded it in 1998. He helps with divorces, parenting differences, real estate issues, employment cases, business disputes, and neighbor to neighbor conflicts.



Email Author
Author Website

Additional articles by Dan Simon