The Power of Story to Shift Conflict
When I work with clients, I first listen carefully and empathically to their story. They need to tell it and I need to hear it.
Does Your Work Culture Promote Psychological Safety?
Psychological safety is an important element in successful, productive work cultures. So what does that look like?
The Power of Gratitude
Why do you think so many people do not feel gratitude? How would you articulate why a simple emotion can be so elusive?
Blind Spots and Conflict
Shining a light on your blind spots can help you with conflict.
Conversation, Kindness, and Democracy
Are kindness and conversation still possible? What about the many other people who share a perspective with those folks and are not themselves violent?
Start with “Hello” to Manage Conflict
Recently, I did a consultation with two long-term employees who had periodic flare ups of conflict. Here are some of the suggestions I gave the owner.
Healing our Divisions in Troubled Times
How can we heal the deep divisions in our country? How do we talk to each other with compassion and empathy across our differences?
Conflict and Culture on a Voyage to Mars
Survival depends on understanding and working together.
Fight or Flight & Other So-So Responses to Conflict
Fight, Flight, Freeze—that what neurobiologists say are our ancestral (and current) unconscious response choices in a threatening or conflict situation.
Fault Lines/Property Lines in Conflict
Understanding fault lines and property lines can help us resolve conflicts.
Feedback, Hot Buttons, and White Fragility
Being open to difficult feedback, even about racism, can help you grow.
The Kindness of Strangers During a Pandemic
Amidst all the pandemic grief and fear, people step up in big ways to help each other.
Impatience, Conflict, and Covid-19
Impatience can be a big contributor to conflict, and an obstacle to effective conflict resolution.
Break & Repair vs. Preventive Maintenance in Workplace Conflict
Are you waiting until relationships are broken to deal with workplace conflict? Tip: this is not the most effective way to deal with disagreements and problems!
Overwork and Conflict
Are you feeling angry and put upon at work? Are you having negative interactions and conflict over relatively small matters? Overwork may be the culprit.
Culture Clash in Conversations at Work
Is it an interruption or a cultural difference?
Feelings and Conflict at Work
Being prepared for feelings at work helps us to deal with them, instead of letting them escalate.
The Craziness of Workplace Mobbing
Workplace mobbing can make you feel crazy.
Follow the Platinum Rule in Diverse Workplaces
The Platinum Rule is better than the Golden Rule at work, because not everyone is the same.
Three Common Ways Conflict Shows Up in Organizations
Conflict in businesses and organizations can show up in at least three different ways.
Avoiding a Conflict Debt at Work
Conflict debts at work are hard to pay down.
Lost in a Conflict Story
You can’t heal a conflict if you get lost in your own story.
Effective Conflict Management versus a Quick “Fix”
Sometime potential individual clients or institutions and organizations who want to hire me are looking for a quick fix for their longstanding conflict management problems.
The Ripple Effect of Good Conflict Skills
When one person gets better conflict skills, the whole organization can shift.
Good Work Meetings Promote Harmony, Lessen Conflict
How can well run meetings reduce conflict and promote harmony at work?
The Power of Trying in Conflict Management
The power of trying often gets a bad rap in today’s culture.
Affirming the Good in Workplace Conflict—the positive role of affirmations
One of the tools I use frequently with conflict coaching clients, as well as for myself, is affirmations.
How Avoidance Can Help You with Workplace Conflict
It sounds counter intuitive, but Inaction or avoidance can be a viable way of dealing with workplace conflict.
Nonverbal Communication, Difficult Conversations (and autonomous cars)
Whenever I teach conflict and communication skills classes or coach someone, I always include the important role nonverbal communication plays.
Bullied or Mobbed? The Dangerous Search for Vindication
In the 9 years since I left my own toxic workplace, I’ve coached and consulted with people in all stages of being bullying or mobbed (bullied by a group).
Why Everyone at Work Needs Conflict Management Skills (and how you can get them)
In many job descriptions posted in March and April this year on Indeed, the job announcements include conflict resolution or conflict management as required or desirable skills.
Managing a Resentment Relapse at Work
A client of mine had a resentment relapse recently.
Conflict at Work—the Power of Envisioning Harmony
A powerful tool for healing and transforming conflict at work is affirming and envisioning harmony.
Managing Conflict with your Inner Critic
Many of us have a vocal inner critic, who tells us what we’re doing wrong, how what we’re trying won’t work, how we’ll never be good enough.
Setting Boundaries with a Workplace Bully
Whether the bully is your boss or another employee, setting boundaries can be challenging.
When Your Boss Is A Bully
I recently did some consulting at a non-profit, and witnessed a bully very much like one of the (Division chair) managers who made my life a misery when I was a tenured professor.
Inner Tools to Survive Workplace Bullying (part 2)
Letting go of resentments is a powerful tool to help you survive and heal from workplace bullying.
Inner Tools to Survive Workplace Bullying
Those of us who have survived workplace bullying or mobbing (bullying by a group) know how awful and traumatizing it is.
The Kindness of Strangers—Wildfires, Empathy, and Conflict
Kindness and empathy can defuse conflict at work, or disagreements even in the midst of disasters.
Your Rules/Their Rules in Conflict Management
This article discusses the Zen at the Gym (part 3).
Civil Conversations with “the Enemy”—A Tool for Working through Conflict
How can you have a civil conversation with people you think are absolutely wrong, even evil?
How Yes/And Defuses Workplace Conflict
Many conflicts at work and everywhere expand and linger because people believe there is only one right answer or one way to see or do things.
Divine Listening and Managing Conflict
Use this perspective to look at the other person in conflict.
On Being Bullied—reflections, lessons, and gratitude 8 years later
When I was in the middle of horrific, workplace experiences, I did whatever I could to protect myself from the worst effects of bullying and mobbing.
The Uncertainty of Taxes—Positively Reframing a Difficult Workplace Communication
A wonderful benefit of learning conflict resolution skills is using them to positively reframe my own challenging communications
The Sun, the Wind, and Positive Change in the Workplace
In the classic folk tale, the Sun and the Wind each believe they are more powerful.
The Seductiveness of Being Right
The desire to be right is deeply seductive and understandable, but it can cause a lot of problems at work
The Zen of the Gym (part2)–What I’ve learned about workplace conflict resolution at the gym
Rather than trying to micromanage and control when I got to use the weight machines or a bench, I wanted serenity and harmony instead of getting my way at others’ expense.
The Truth about Pirate Jenny –why revenge doesn’t solve workplace resentments
This article discusses why revenge doesn’t solve workplace resentments.
Healing Old Hatreds at Work or Anywhere
One of the sources of unresolved conflict at work and elsewhere can be unconscious (or conscious) bias and prejudice.
Manage, Don’t Enable, Feuds at Work
When disagreements at work are unresolved, one of the unfortunate outcomes can be long lasting workplace feuds.
We’re All in This Together: Listening to Each Other in Troubled Times
This article discusses hope and despair in the landscape of today.
The Illusion of Making Someone Else Change
One of the most common illusions that new coaching clients have is that by working with me they can somehow find tricks or techniques to convince the other person to think and behave differently.
Zen of the Gym—What I’ve learned about workplace conflict resolution at the gym
I used to get into small verbal arguments with other members using the machines, partly out of my own impatience, and partly because they were violating the rules of courteous use.
The Path of Love in Conflict Management
When an organization is looking for someone to help them with persistent conflict or antagonistic patterns of interaction between people at work, the need for love isn’t likely to come first to mind.
Bad Art and the Benefits of Owning Our Mistakes at Work
One of the big issues that creates conflict at work and interferes with harmonious relationships, is many people’s inability to acknowledge their own mistakes.
Let Go of “Shoulds” and Expectations at Work (or Anywhere)
Shoulds and expectations are a big source of conflict.
Is Revertigo Fueling Conflict at Your Workplace?
Do you ever find yourself acting (out) like your five or fifteen year old self? If so you may be affected by revertigo!
Separation as a Cause of Conflict and Violence
The longer I work to understand and heal my own resentments and conflicts, and the more I work with individuals and organizations that need help with communication and conflict resolution, the more clearly I see that a huge underlying cause of conflict is separation.
Five Strategies to Manage Conflict at Work
A lot of people cringe when they even hear the word “conflict”, especially at their workplaces. But the truth is, conflict is a natural part of human interactions, and it won’t go away even if you close your eyes and wish really hard!
Five Strategies to Manage Conflict at Work
A lot of people cringe when they even hear the word “conflict”, especially at their workplaces. But the truth is, conflict is a natural part of human interactions, and it won’t go away even if you close your eyes and wish really hard!
Getting “the Good Stuff” from Feedback
I confess that I have had a love-hate relationship with feedback. In my teaching and coaching, I am passionately committed to improving and growing. And, I always want to be a good spouse, friend, and colleague as well.
No Sour Grapes in this Conflict
What would you do if someone secretly took grapes from your garden? Would you get mad? Feel like a victim? Blame the neighbors and call them thieves? Put up a fence to protect your property? Post angry warning signs?
The Long Path to Immediate Forgiveness
I had a short lived fight with my wife, Linda, recently that I actually feel good about, because it shows the positive results of my ( and her) long hard work on forgiveness.
Moving from the Shadows into the Sunlight
Perhaps my biggest learning on my own journey to healing and recovery is that I have a choice at any moment, to continue to stand in a shadow of my own creation, or to change my attitude so I can move into light, trust, faith and optimism. Your attitude makes the difference.
From Fear and Avoidance to Love and Trust: Transforming Your Relationship with Money.
Looking back, my needs around money have always been met. But it didn’t feel that way to me at all. I bounced between vagueness, avoiding concrete information or action about money, and terror, that I would be destitute and never have enough.
The Conflict Pivot: A Must-Read for Mediators and Coaches - Book Review
In Tammy Lenski's latest book, The Conflict Pivot: Turning Conflict into Peace of Mind, I have discovered a rich resource that I can use in the moment while I’m working with clients, and which I can give to my clients to guide them when they're in the grip of a conflict. This article summarizes the book and explains why it is so valuable.
Healing your Relationship with Money: Letting go of Fear, Resentment, and Scarcity
Is talking about money scary, triggering, or confusing? Do you worry that there is never enough? Issues around Money can be big emotional triggers for many of us.
Effective Strategies for Managing Conflict at Work–webinar
Unresolved conflict can affect productivity and satisfaction at work. While it is human to have disagreements, effective communication skills can turn these into opportunities to deepen mutual understanding, solve problems creatively, and co-exist peacefully.
Four Elements of Forgiveness—50 Years Later
I read recently about a beautiful example of forgiveness for a wrong that happened 50 years before. Elwin Wilson had been a white supremacist, and one of the mob who, in 1961, severely beat up Freedom Riders demonstrating for integration and African Americans’ civil rights.
Five Tips to Let Go and Forgive after a Break-Up
Learning how to let go and forgive helped me a lot after two “break-ups.” Neither of these was with a spouse or romantic partner, but they were deep and difficult and painful nonetheless.
What are the Biggest Mistakes Divorced Parents Make?
While parents are divorcing and after they are divorced, they are often overwhelmed by all the changes in their lives. They may be filled with guilt, blame, rage, or grief. Though they, of course, love their children, it may be a huge challenge to manage emotions and conflict with their ex in a way that helps their children move through the changes and feel loved and secure.
Five Steps Divorced Parents Can Take to Cool Down Holiday Conflict
We all have idealized images of the holiday season–perfect gifts and the warm glow of togetherness. But the gap between expectations and reality can be huge when parents are recently divorced, and grief, anger, and bitterness can intensify holiday stress.
Empathy - Video
This article and corresponding video showcase a panel on empathy and conflict resolution. Panelists included Cinnie Noble, Ken Cloke and Eileen Barker for Edwin Rutsch and the Center for Building a Culture of Empathy.
A “Novel” Approach to Building Empathy across Differences
As a devoted novel reader and mediator/conflict coach, I was delighted when I read a blog post on the Harvard Business Review Network by Ann Kreamer, called “The Business Case for Reading Novels.”
Balance Listening and Limits with Storming Teens
How can parents stay loving and detached but still listen when challenged by preteens and new teens? My favorite pediatrician, T Berry Brazelton, advises parents of teens who are being challenged or insulted to say calmly, “I’m interested in what you have to say, but you’ll have to find another way of saying it.” (Press Democrat Tuesday December 13, 2011)
Open the Door to Peace instead of Conflict
The most difficult conflicts in my life have generally come from trying to impose my will on reality, particularly when I’m trying to control other people. When I have expectations of how life should be, how others should communicate and behave, or how events should unfold, and then try to make it happen, I rarely get the result I want.
The Courage to Listen in Conflicts
“Courage is what it takes to stand up and speak; courage is also what it takes to sit down and listen.”—Winston Churchill. What does it take to sit down and listen to someone we disagree with, instead of dismissing them as the enemy or turning to violence?
Seven Tips for Setting Boundaries and Consequences with Teens
One huge source of conflict and stress for parents of teens is figuring out how to set appropriate guidelines and consequences and then follow through successfully. Here are some tips and suggestions based on communication and conflict resolution principles.
Challenging Assumptions in Disagreements (and Cemeteries)
Assumptions we make about other people’s motives can be obstacles to resolving conflict and differences. We know the impact of their words or actions on us, but we are often merely guessing their intent or making up a story about them that validates our worst
Effective, Respectful, Communication—Lessons from Occupy Santa Rosa
Consensus building, like other valuable parts of negotiation and conflict resolution, is often messy and time consuming, but the result can be a vibrant, inclusive process of reaching decisions to which people feel deeply committed.
Holiday Hot Buttons: 5 Simple Steps to Cool Them Down
Holidays can trigger powerful emotional reactions. We all know what the holidays are supposed to be like–perfect gifts and understanding, the warm glow of family togetherness and a spirit of lovingkindness.
From Lorraine Segal
Mediate.com is such a rich professional resource as well as a way for people in other fields to understand what we conflict resolution professions do and the tremendous value we offer. The articles and blogs are a treasure trove of wisdom and insight and give us a forum for an ongoing thoughtful conversation with each other. I feel blessed to be a featured blogger and appreciate all the feedback and questions I've received from all over the world as a result. Here's to four hundred more issues!
Letting Go of Grudges and Resentments—A Key to Transforming Communication
Holding grudges is a very human thing to do, but it creates a number of problems for the individuals who hold them and for the people they are in relationship with.
“Use Your Words” Works for Adult and Teen Conflict, Too
Adult brains have well developed habitual pathways for responding to high conflict situations, which we tend to follow unconsciously even if they don’t serve us any longer
The World Cup of Forgiveness
A story in my local newspaper about last month’s women’s soccer world cup offers a beautiful example of letting go, forgiveness, and fresh starts.
The Heart of Communication, Moving From Strife to Harmony
How can we open our hearts and minds to clear, transformative communication?
The Healing Power of Apologies for Parents and Teens
Since everyone involved was willing to accept responsibility for their part and graciously accept the others’ apologies, all we mediators had to do was let positive results of the initial apology unfold and watch the transformation that followed.
5 Steps to Effective Meetings
Meetings seem to be an inevitable part of life, whether you’re a stay at home mom active in your kid’s PTA, or the team leader of a big corporate project.
Prisoner of a Teen Brain
I read in the newspaper a few days ago that the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled to uphold a life sentence without parole to a teen, Omer Ninham, who murdered a 13 year old when he was 14.
From Anger to Open Heart with Teens
Our feelings are an essential part of communication and relationships, but unmanaged anger can sabotage us. When we’re angry, we can’t listen or resolve problems well, and any loving connection is blocked.
Culture Clash—-Immigrant Parents and Their Teens
Finding New Solutions for Parent-Teen Conflict
Successful communication and conflict resolution with teenagers can be immensely challenging. When parents find an approach that helped, it is natural to hope it will work again.
Punishing Bullied Teens
Recent research is teaching parents, professionals, and teens a lot more about bullying. The spate of recent suicides (bullycides) has caused more schools to take it seriously and help all of us recognize that bullying is not conflict between two individuals that can be resolved with improved communication, but is instead a deliberate campaign of intimidation and terror to injure an individual who is the target.
Freaky Friday And Building Parent-Teen Empathy
When children become teenagers, parents and teens alike may find the transition difficult and filled with conflict.The movie Freaky Friday offers an example of how empathy and understanding can grow even between a feuding teen and parent.
Interest-Based Negotiating For Parents And Teens
Although it may sound like something only for unions or businesses, interest based negotiating is a cornerstone of improving communication and resolving conflict in personal relationships, including those between parents and teens.
Improving Parent-Teen Communication
Any communication between parents and their children can be difficult, but when those children become teenagers, the potential for miscommunication increases greatly.
President Obama’s Speech Offers Conflict Resolution Wisdom
President Obama gave an eloquent and inspiring speech last Wednesday January 12th at the Tucson Memorial for those killed in the massacre. Particularly impressive to to me were statements he made that captured the essence of conflict resolution principles and compassionate communication.
Teaching People To Fish In The Sea Of Conflict: The Benefits Of Conflict Coaching
My goal as a conflict intervention specialist is always to teach and empower others. I don’t just want to resolve a conflict for them, but help them gain skills to heal their own conflicts. Conflict coaching is a valuable approach to achieving this goal.
Bullies, Babies, And The Birth Of Empathy
Can babies prevent bullying? The answer may be a resounding “yes.”
Bullying Can Cause Lasting Injury But There Is Hope
According to a recent article in the Boston Globe, brain scans of teens who have been repeatedly bullied revealed the same changes as those who have been physically or sexually abused. In some individuals, the negative changes persisted years later.
Hot Buttons: Five Simple Steps To Cool Down Holiday Conflict
We all have idealized images of the holiday season–perfect gifts and the warm glow of togetherness. But the real stress of expectations and difficult patterns of interactions with family members (perhaps better loved at a distance) can set off our emotional hot buttons or triggers.
Five (Personal) Principles About Healing Conflict
My blog has been a wonderful way for me to reflect on my fundamental beliefs about conflict resolution. Many times I would write a new entry, and then wonder uneasily if I was repeating myself. I realized that although I offer different stories and contexts, a few principles about conflict and communication are at the heart of my writings. As this is the one year anniversary of my blog, I thought I’d share with you the principles I uncovered:
Expectations, Conflict, And Fruit Smoothies
How much do our expectations influence our conflicts? Recent studies about appetite and perception at the University of Bristol in Britain offer some thought provoking answers.
Empathy, Conflict Resolution, And The 4th Dimension
I love reading science fiction, because at its best it offers an imaginative window into our conflicts and possible solutions. In Factoring Humanity, renowned SF author Robert J. Sawyer explores the power of empathy to transform human relationships.
Healing The Trail Of Tears, Letting Go Of Resentment
Resentment of past injustices, particularly when it has endured for generations, is extremely challenging to transform. But with willingness and courage, some individuals and groups have been able to move toward healing.
Emergency Self-Compassion For Conflicts
Finding compassion for another person we are in conflict with, understanding their issues, perspective, and struggles are valuable tools in resolving issues. But, offering compassion to ourselves can be equally important in dealing successfully with conflict and difficult people.
Taking The First Step To Heal Conflict
What does it look like to take the first step to heal conflict? It could be sitting down and talking with someone we’ve been avoiding. It could mean a new openness to hearing their story, understanding that their version of what happened is inevitably different from ours. It could mean telling another person how hurt or angry we felt. It could be a softening and self–forgiveness that lets us acknowledge our share in a problem rather than reacting defensively.
Every Conflict Has Two Losers
When I read the title of a new documentary called Every War Has Two Losers, I was struck by how applicable this concept is to unresolved personal and professional conflicts as well.
Filling Up The Soap Dispenser Of Harmony
As I frequently tell my coaching clients and students, it is far easier to resolve or avoid conflict if we look at our own contribution to the situation. We really can’t control another person, no matter how much we want to, but it is possible to change our own attitude and behavior, which often improves our dynamic with the other person.
The Iron Fist Of Dysfunctional Managers
All supervisors and managers need to ensure that employees are getting their work done. But, in many workplaces, especially service oriented ones such as hospitals, schools, and non-profit social service agencies, iron fisted approaches backfire. Rather than improving the productivity and smooth functioning of the organization, they frustrate and burn out the most competent and dedicated workers.
The Flags And Flowers Of “The Enemy”
On my neighborhood walks, I sometimes see a house that displays not just one, but a whole array of American flags even when no patriotic holiday is coming up. Instantly, I form a negative judgment about the people who live there.
Are ANTs Causing Conflict at Your Job?
Despite the picture, I’m not talking about conflict and little marching insects, but the other kind of ANTs–Automatic Negative Thoughts–marching inside your head.
Good Conflict/Bad Conflict
Unless you are a conflict resolution specialist, chances are when you hear the word “conflict”, you cringe and think of something horrible that happened at work or out in the world. Negative examples of conflict are everywhere: just turn your TV on to almost any sitcom, talk show, reality show or news program to see people acting out their conflicts in the worst way possible.
The Injury Of Mobbing In The Workplace
Mobbing, although sometimes mischaracterized as workplace conflict, is actually a pernicious and dangerous workplace injury. It isn’t as common as individual bullying, because it tends to occur only to tenured college/school faculty, or to employees in the hospitals, factories, and other workplaces that have strong union or seniority systems. But those of us who have survived a mobbing will never forget it.
The Power Of The Past In Workplace Conflict
Is it more helpful to remember or forget past workplace conflict? The famous line from George Santayana, “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it,” tells us remembering is crucial. But in the current issue of Conflict Resolution Quarterly, Barbara Tint opined the opposite; that remembering major conflicts makes them persist. In my experience, either can be true in the workplace, depending on how and why we remember.
Workplace Conflict And The Inner Teenager
Ever felt like you or your coworkers or bosses were acting or talking like difficult teenagers? You know what I mean, the sullen shrug, the denial, the endless willingness to argue, the sudden fits of temper? This kind of energy can be challenging and frustrating to deal with, especially when you are supposed to be working with adults.
Chasing Institutional Gratification At Work
We all enjoy recognition from our peers and supervisors, and in an ideal workplace we’d be appreciated for each accomplishment. But, if our only source of work satisfaction is professional awards, we could be setting ourselves up for resentment, conflict, and competition at work that has little or nothing to do with our competence.
Computer Engineer Barbie And Workplace Gender Conflict
Computer Engineer Barbie just arrived with lots of publicity, but does this signify the end of gender conflict and discrimination at work?
The Fun Theory And Workplace Motivation
Can fun be an effective motivator at work? It might, according to a recent psychology study reported by David DiSalvo. In the study, researchers first assessed participants as high or low achievers and then gave them a series of 5 computerized tests. Their computers flashed various achievement-oriented cues for the first 4 tests, and, predictably, the higher achievers performed better.
The Fun Theory And Changing Behavior At Work (Part 1)
How do we change behavior at work for the better? A big corporation in Germany started a campaign they call The Fun Theory.
Mother Always Liked You Best—Dysfunctional Family Patterns In The Workplace
If you‘ve ever felt like your managers, co-workers or employees were acting like children, you may be right. For better or worse, many of our habitual patterns of communication and conflict in the workplace come from our families of origin. When people bring these unconscious understandings and roles to work, it is a volatile recipe for conflict, miscommunication, and a negative, poorly functioning organization.
Woman Bites Dog—Acknowledging My Part At Work (And In The Park)
?My clients and I often wish we could remake our co-workers and managers in our preferred image. But, the reality is that we generally have little or no control over the words and actions of others, even if there are negative consequences for us. So, I encourage my conflict coaching clients to look at their share, however small, in a problematic interaction.
Downsizing Resentments At Work
Is resentment poisoning you at work? I have witnessed clients, parties in mediations, and colleagues filled with resentment toward a co-worker, supervisor, or employee. Sometimes these feelings persist for years, only expressed indirectly, with inevitably negative consequences on the individuals, their productivity, and their leadership skills.
Always A Godmother, Never A God—Power And Control In The Workplace
Unrealistic attempts to control bosses, co-workers, or employees at meetings or individually can be huge sources of conflict in the workplace.
The Importance Of Making A Mess At Work
For many years I put immense energy into avoiding errors and messes or defensively pretending I hadn’t made any. I finally started to understand what this artist knew intuitively, that mistakes are valuable. If we are unwilling to risk making a mistake, we also risk lessening our creative ability to solve problems.
Becoming Human At Work
Do we see others at work as human, or do we fit them in a convenient slot based on their professional role or our hasty judgment of them?
You Say “Hello”, I Say “Adios”, Conflict Versus Difference In The Workplace
In the U.S., when we walk past someone we don’t know, what do we say?