John Ford

John Ford

 John Ford is the author of Peace at Work and founder of the HR Mediation Academy. He mediates; trains; and consults to organizations that have accepted the inevitability of conflict and are seeking to approach it with greater clarity and confidence. He was the managing editor of from 2000 to 2011, and is a past president of the Association for Dispute Resolution of Northern California. 

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Articles and Video:

In Their Voices - Video with John Ford (09/18/20)
In this video series, Michael Lang interviews mediation practitioners about how to have a reflective instead of a reactionary practice.

Interview with John Ford: The Future of Workplace Mediation (04/05/20)
This is an interview by Dr. Clare Fowler, current Managing Editor, with John Ford, the first Managing Editor and a well-known HR and workplace mediation specialist.

How Teams Can Work Together Despite Opposing Views (01/25/19)
While most of us forge friendships with like-minded people who affirm our strongly held beliefs, we don’t choose our colleagues.

A Clear Description of Confidentiality in Mediation (11/12/18)
Privacy is an important element of mediation--this article helps to define it.

How Teams Can Work Together Despite Opposing Views (04/27/18)
While most of us forge friendships with like-minded people who affirm our strongly held beliefs, we don’t choose our colleagues.

Conflict Audit: How Much Is Conflict Costing Your Organization? (12/01/17)
Finally discover how to quantify the direct and hidden Costs of Conflict.

The New SHRM Competency Guidelines (06/23/17)
Should HR professionals mediate internal workplace disputes?

Are You Safe From Mixed Messages? (12/11/15)
When we are conveying our feelings or attitudes and there is any incongruency between what is being said, the tone of the voice and the body language, we place the least importance on the words used.

To Vent or Not to Vent, That is the Question! (12/01/15)
I suspect that we have all vented our anger at some point in time. But is it really a good idea?

What’s the Difference Between Empathy and Sympathy? (11/09/15)
Have you ever wondered about the difference between empathy and sympathy? And if you have, why sympathy has got such a bad name?

The Future of Mediation (06/09/15)
A coach once asked me to predict which way a drop of water would go around a rock up ahead. Of course there is no way of knowing: the water drop may not make it due to evaporation to the atmosphere, absorption by the river bank, and then if it does make it to the rock, whether it goes left or right, over or below. However, even if the future is uncertain, we can still comment on where the drop of water is at the moment. Even its relationship to our imagined future. And of course about its past.

In Honor of Luis Miguel Díaz, Long-Time Contributor to (06/30/11)
I had the privilege of knowing Luis Miguel Díaz through my work at From 2000 to 2010, he submitted 20 articles. The first was called 'Mediation in the Year 2051' and the last 'Usurpation Of Freewill In The Age Of Discretion.' Let me share more with you about Luis Miguel Díaz.

The Role Of Intuition In Conflict Resolution (10/25/10)
There is no question that to resolve a conflict beyond a superficial level, the emotional energy that accompanies the conflict must be addressed. And yet, how we go about working with emotions in conflict situations is not clear. Some encourage a focus on forgiveness, while others point out that until the nasty reality of revenge is addressed, forgiveness is illusionary. Other suggest that we need to understand the neurobiology of emotion and still others that all we have to do is listen actively. Ultimately, it is a mediator's intuition that allows him or her to best select and integrate these and other approaches.

Contextualizing Disruptive Behavior in Health Care as a Conflict Management Challenge (02/23/09)
Disruptive physician behavior has been defined by the American Medical Association as “personal conduct, whether verbal or physical, that affects or that potentially may affect patient care negatively.” It is assumed that disruptive behavior by health care workers impacts quality of care and patient safety. How best to respond to disruptive behavior is less clear. This article explores the utility in framing disruptive behavior as a conflict management systems challenge.

Managerial Mediation And Arbitration (12/29/08)
I will always be indebted to Dan Dana for introducing the concept of the manager as the mediator to me. Dan was the pioneer who blazed the trail. In this short article I want to consolidate and reiterate his fundamental insights, and of course add my two cents!

Tears In Mediation (09/29/08)
It is only a question of time before someone cries during one of your mediations. For a new mediator this can be unsettling. What does it mean and what intervention options are available and indeed advisable?

The Importance Of Follow Up (08/11/08)
There was a time when I considered a follow up a courtesy, something non essential but ‘good’ to do. More and more, I am of the view that follow up is a vital part of any mediation, especially in workplace mediations where the disputants have worked out new behavioral arrangements.

Alternatives Analysis: What Would An MBA Student Do? (06/02/08)
Never discount the importance of reality checking, and of finding a credible agent of reality, even if they are not able to make the mediation!

Calming Techniques (04/21/08)
In a previous article, I suggested that there are two ways we can approach our penchant for reactivity when we are triggered. One seeks to address why it is that we are triggered. The other focuses on the moment that we are triggered, and seeks to restore short term balance. This article focuses on techniques for calming down.

From Reaction to Response: Conflict As A Choice (03/10/08)
Once we embrace that conflict is inevitable in social relationships, the question we have to ask is “how do we respond?” Responsibly, we’d hope. Yet, for the most part, when we are in conflict, we are not very responsive, and tend to be reactive. Shifting to a responsive approach to conflict is easier said than done. When we are in conflict situations, we are typically being triggered and reverting to our unconscious conflict handling scripts.

The Scope of Divorce Mediation: A Question For Namibia (09/23/07)
Namibian society can be characterized as a patriarchy. Women are not treated equally and experience discrimination at all levels of society, especially in the family. Spousal abuse and domestic violence is openly acknowledged as “a widespread and serious problem.” Constitutionally there is gender equality and discrimination on the basis of sex is prohibited. However existing laws, customs and practices operate to constrain the full realization of the constitution's noble aspirations. There is general acceptance that the substantive aspects of the law of marriage and divorce are in need of reform. But what about the procedural reform? Divorce mediation is one possibility. In 1999 the Legal Assistance Center (LAC) in Namibia, commissioned me to write a paper on the procedural aspects of the law of divorce and how it can be reformed. This extract, which reflects the legal landscape of that time, focuses on the scope of divorce mediation.

Fire As A Metaphor For Conflict (02/07/05)
Having the skill and knowledge (ability) to deal with conflict productively goes a long way toward conflict management competency. But what about our attitude toward conflict? Does it matter that we view conflict as an unwelcome intruder in our lives? Something that is best avoided? And when it does intrude and we can’t avoid, that fight is the best form of defense?

Organizational Conflict Management Check Up (11/24/03)
Are you concerned about the health of your organizations conflict management system? This diagnostic questionnaire is easy to complete in less than 10 minutes and provides valuable insight into how your organization is dealing with conflict.

Dreams and Conflict: The Dictatorship of the Viewer (09/22/03)
This article shares the title of the 2003 Venice Biennale, the 50th since its inception in 1895. I am not an art critic, but a conflict management consultant. I found the sub-title liberating. If I was the ‘dictator,’ meaning was mine for the making. I was curious to discover how art dealt with the subject of conflict, and what sense I could make of it.

Integrating The Internet Into Conflict Management Systems (05/05/03)
The reality is that the use of email and the Internet have created new challenges and opportunities for organizations in their management of organizational conflict. The challenge of integrating the Internet into conflict management systems should not be a defensive response driven by the fear of litigation. Rather, it should aim to maximize all the Internet and email have to offer as new access points, new options, and new support structures for enhancing the satisfaction of employers, employees and the customers they serve.

Organizational Conflict Management- What's a System? (03/17/03)
While conflict may be a constant, paradigms to explain conflict in organizations have changed. Systems thinking or chaos theory is the latest paradigm that has been used to understand organizational conflict. The demise of the mechanistic worldview allows us to contemplate how organizations deal with conflict through a fresh set of lenses.

Measuring Conflict: Both The Hidden Costs and the Benefits of Conflict Management Interventions (08/18/02)
Providing the executive team with quantitative and qualitative data (as opposed to anecdotes) about the costs of conflict will build the HR manager’s credibility as a business partner as there are significant hidden costs within employee conflicts, costs that an organization incurs long before a lawsuit is filed.

Seven Golden Rules of Marketing for Mediators (07/14/02)
Like it or not, effective marketing is crucial to the success of most mediation practices. Whether you are starting a mediation practice or seeking to expand an existing practice, serious thought should be given to how you will establish yourself in the market. So, what are the best marketing strategies? What makes marketing effective? How can mediators use what they already know to be effective in marketing? While there's no one magic answer for everyone, there are proven guideposts that can help you avoid common pitfalls, and maximize the return of your marketing efforts and dollars.

How to be an Effective Advocate for Your Agency During Mediation (06/24/02)
This article provides an overview of the mediation process, in particular EEO mediations. We also share a checklist of items to think about that will prepare you for your mediation session – along with some tips that will improve your effectiveness as an advocate for your agency during the actual mediation process.

Process Options for Workplace Conflict Management (05/14/02)
A variety of options are available to deal with workplace conflict. It is worth noting that each of the approaches is suitable in circumstances, and that the ideal is a coordinated and supportive array of interest and rights based options for dealing with all types of problems as early as possible.

Powerful Non-Defensive Communication (04/22/02)
Most conflict resolution practitioners have had their fair share of communication skills training. Communication after all is at the heart of conflict prevention and resolution. For the most part, communication skills training focuses on active listening skills and the delivery of "I" rather than "You" statements. What is 'powerful non-defensive communication, and what does it have to say that hasn't been said already?

Dealing with Difficult Behavior (12/01/01)
Conflict is inevitable in the workplace. However, that does not mean that we cannot work to prevent unproductive behavior that leads to conflict. Although it is easy to label people as difficult, the real focus should always be on the actual behavior. Dealing effectively with difficult behavior is a skill that can nip conflict in the bud.

Cross Cultural Conflict Resolution in Teams (10/23/01)
The use of teams represents an important change in the way we work. The theory is that through the interdependency of the parts greater productivity is achieved by the whole. Experience has been less kind. One reason that teams fail to meet performance expectations is their paralysis through unresolved conflict. This article focuses on the impact of culture on the prevention and resolution of conflict in teams.

Confidentiality Issues In Workplace Mediation: What Every HR Manager Should Know (09/10/01)
Increasingly organizations are making use of mediation to resolve disputes between employees. Whether mediation is offered by an internal peer mediator or an external mediator, the extent to which communications made during the mediation will be restricted from further dissemination is always at issue.

The Training of Conflict Resolution Skills in the Workplace (08/01/01)
An ideal approach to conflict management in the workplace is an integrated one. Very few, if any, organizations can boast of this achievement. Rather, integration represents a vision for the future. That said, there are many options for organizations both small and large who are traveling in this direction.

Emerging Cultural Norms For Electronic Communication (06/15/01)
While electronic communication can be inclusive and foster dialogue, the question of when and how to involve others or to get involved is challenging. And because these are early days of electronic communication, cultural norms about acceptable behavior have yet to fully develop.

Workplace Conflict: An Inevitable Fact of Life (01/17/01)
Conflict is an inevitable fact of any organizations life. Organizations that accept this truism, do so for many different reasons, and those that do, are able to access the beneficial potential of conflict.

Workplace ADR: Facts and Figures from the Federal Sector (05/22/00)
A number of recent initiatives by Congress and the Government have encouraged the use of alternative methods of workplace dispute resolution throughout the Executive Branch. These facts and figures from a few of the Federal ADR programs were obtained from the U.S. Office of Personnel Management’s Alternative Dispute Resolution: A Resource Guide.

Workplace Conflict: Facts and Figures (01/05/00)
It is estimated that 30% of a managers time is spent dealing with conflict, and that Fortune 500 company executives are involved in litigation related activity 20% of their time. Increasingly companies are turning to mediation and other ADR techniques to resolve workplace conflict.

Workplace Editorial Sept 2000 (09/07/98)
The workplace continues to grow as user of conflict management and dispute resolution services. A number of intiatives confirm that this is a vibrant sector to be involved in.