Checklist for Difficult Conversations

"Preparing for the Conversation
Before going into the conversation, ask yourself some questions.
1. What is your purpose for having the conversation? What do you hope to accomplish? What would be an ideal outcome?...
2. What assumptions are you making about this person's intentions?...
3. What "buttons" of yours are being pushed?...
4. How is your attitude toward the conversation influencing your perception of it?...
5. Who is the "opponent"? What might he be thinking about this situation?...What are his needs and fears?...Begin to reframe the opponent as a partner.
6. What are your needs and fears? Are there any common concerns? Could there be?
7. How have you contributed to the problem? How has the other person?...

Four Steps to a Successful Outcome
Step #1: Inquiry
Cultivate an attitude of discovery and curiosity...
Step #2: Acknowledgment
Acknowledgment means showing that you've heard and understood...Acknowledgment can be difficult if we associate it with agreement. Keep them separate. My saying, "This sounds really important to you" doesn't mean I'm going to go along with your decision.
Step #3: Advocacy
When you sense that your opponent has expressed all her energy on the topic, it's your turn...
Step #4: Problem-Solving
Now you're ready to begin building solutions...

Practice, Practice, Practice
The art of conversation is like any art—with continued practice, you acquire skill and ease. Here are some additional hints:

A successful outcome will depend on two things: how you are and what you say. How you are (centered, supportive, curious, problem-solving) will greatly influence what you say.

Acknowledge emotional energy—yours and your opponent/partner's—and direct it toward a useful purpose.

Know and return to your purpose at difficult moments.

Don't take verbal attacks personally. Help your opponent/partner come back to center.

Don't assume your opponent/partner can see things from your point of view.

Practice the conversation with a friend before holding the real one.

Mentally rehearse the conversation. See various possibilities and visualize yourself handling them with ease. Envision the outcome you're hoping for..."

Read much more in this excellent article from Pegasus.com from which the foregoing was quoted


Tips on Resolving Conflict

"Here are a few tips...for resolving conflict in your workplace and professional life:

"Don't be afraid of conflict...because conflict is a part of nature, a part of life...Consider conflict a way of learning to see things more clearly.

"Abandon the concept of winning and losing when faced with conflict. Instead, adopt a strategy of resolution...

"Be flexible...

"Avoid negative or confrontational language...try using positive language that disarms rather than confronts, such as 'I understand your position and...' or 'I can see your point and here is where I'm coming from...'

"Talk through the situation with a neutral party...

"Think of redirecting the energy toward a common target. Look for similarities in your positions rather than focusing on your differences...

Find something to distract you from the conflict...clear your mind, reevaluate your position, and perhaps come back to it with a fresh vision of what needs to be done to resolve the matter."

From the Beliefnet "From the Masters Newsletter


Twelve Conflict Resolution Skills

CRN explains twelve skills "which may be relevant to solving any conflict. Pick and choose the skill - or skills - appropriate to your particular issue or crisis.Once you achieved some expertise with Conflict Resolution, you will have gained the following learning outcomes:

"1. The win/win approach
Identify attitude shifts to respect all parties' needs.

"2. Creative response
Transform problems into creative opportunities.

"3. Empathy
Develop communication tools to build rapport. Use listening to clarify understanding.

"4. Appropriate assertiveness
Apply strategies to attack the problem not the person.

"5. Co-operative power
Eliminate "power over" to build "power with" others.

"6. Managing emotions
Express fear, anger, hurt and frustration wisely to effect change.

"7. Willingness to Resolve
Name personal issues that cloud the picture.

"8. Mapping the conflict
Define the issues needed to chart common needs and concerns.

"9. Development of options
Design creative solutions together.

"10. Introduction to negotiation
Plan and apply effective strategies to reach agreement.

"11. Introduction to mediation
Help conflicting parties to move towards solutions.

"12. Broadening perspectives
Evaluate the problem in its broader context."

© This CRN material can be freely reproduced provided this copyright notice appears on each page.


Free Courseware from MIT

MIT OpenCourseWare (OCW) has posted lecture notes and course materials for many of their classes. What a resource! Click for the courses available in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. Sloan School of Management offers many courses, including Game Theory for Managers and Competitive Decision-Making and Negotiation. Doing a search on "mediation" brings up 159 hits for you to explore. A search on "conflict resolution" yields 291 hits. Enjoy mining for mind gold and learning from what you find. Thanks, MIT.

Hat tip to VeraSage.

See this Brains On Purpose™ post for active links


What We Have Here...

Is a Failure to Communicate:

"Think about the conversations you have throughout the course of any given day. Are all of them productive? If you’re like most people, they’re probably not. Realize that productive communication involves more than just two people talking. Communicating effectively requires planning, concentration, and consideration of others. So whether you need to talk with your spouse, hash out a problem with a friend, or land that next big business deal, here are some tips to add power and productivity to your conversations.

Tip One: Think Before You Speak...
Tip Two: Stop Talking and Listen...
Tip Three: Ask Questions...
Tip Four: Anticipate Distractions
Nothing you do will make others feel more important than giving them your full attention. Conduct your interaction in a quiet, peaceful location with a minimum of distractions. Turn off your pager and cell phone. If there are other conversations or events going on in the same room, ignore them. If an unavoidable interruption occurs, excuse yourself and return as quickly as possible. If you must end the conversation due to an unforeseen crisis, reschedule it for a later time.

Tip Five: Be Mindful of Your Volume and Tone
Your vocal tone gives the listener a snapshot of your feelings. If you want to show respect or affection, soften your tone. If you find yourself feeling impatient or angry during a conversation, listen to yourself to make sure your voice isn’t reflecting those emotions. If a conversation begins to turn into an argument, consciously lower your volume; often your listener will, too. Keep your voice calm and even whenever possible.

Tip Six: Handle Disagreements with Tact...
Tip Seven: Be Open to New Ideas...
Tip Eight: Take Notes...
Tip Nine: Watch Your Body Language...
Tip Ten: Eliminate Audible Pauses
There’s no need to fill every second of a conversation with sound. Verbal fluff (“ah,” “er,” “um,” “like,” “you know”) obscures your message and reduces your credibility. If you feel you are about to use a non-word, take a breath, hold it a moment, and then resume speaking. Use shorter sentences, or pause using silence instead of audible sounds. Becoming very familiar with your topic will help too. Practice what you want to say, but don’t sound rehearsed..."

Read more in this businessknowhow.com article from which the foregoing was quoted


Stop Fighting

CRInfo has released a new tutorial entitled How to Stop Fighting. Check it out. Preserving your relationships may depend upon it.

Found via this post from campus.adr.net


10 Key Negotiation Lessons

Dr. David Ventner offers these ten negotiation lessons:

Lesson 1 - Know your Aspiration Base...Negotiators with high aspirations consistently outperform those with low aspirations. They start out as ambitiously as possible, staying just clear of losing credibility. By adopting a high aspiration base, negotiators create sufficient room to make and request the necessary concessions needed to achieve a win more-win more outcome...By making the first offer negotiators can "anchor" the negotiation and thus compel it in that direction...

Lesson 2 -Know your Real Base
As important as it is to develop a high aspiration base, negotiators must also know when to walk away from the negotiation...

Lesson 3 - Know your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement [BATNA]...A BATNA is the best outcome a negotiator can expect if the negotiation results in an impasse. It is, as Fisher and Ury (1981: 104, 111) explain it, "the standard against which any proposed agreement should be measured" as it "determines what a minimally acceptable agreement is" ...

Lesson 4 - Focus on Interests not Positions
Negotiators generally enter a negotiation with predetermined positions underpinned by one or more interests - basic needs, fears, desires, hopes, expectations, etc. Whereas positions represent an approach they have decided to adopt, interests are that which gave rise to their decision to adopt certain positions...

The challenge for negotiators is to look beyond the positions initially communicated and to uncover and explore the interests that gave rise to these positions. Once the parties have explored their respective interests, they very often are able to agree an outcome not initially contemplated by either, but which satisfies their respective interests far better than a long drawn-out test of strength...

Lesson 5 - Check your Assumptions - They tend to be Wrong...

Lesson 6 - Always aspire to joint opportunity finding...not merely...joint problem solving...

Lesson 7 - Negotiation is primarily a process, not an event...it is essential that negotiators at all times remain aware of the impact their negotiation strategies and tactics have on the relationship between the negotiating parties...

Lesson 8 - Information is power in negotiations...

Lesson 9 - Framing is a strong determinant of a negotiation outcome...

Lesson 10 - Trust and Credibility are the cornerstones of Win More! Agreements...


Dispute Resolution Around the Globe

"How a company handles disputes can have a significant impact on both its financial performance and its reputation. It is also an essential part of good risk management to anticipate disputes by ensuring that appropriate and well-drafted dispute resolution clauses are incorporated in all contracts.

"Baker & McKenzie developed Dispute Resolution Around the World to help organizations engaged in international commerce devise the most effective dispute resolution strategies. This site will help you gain:

-A basic knowledge of the structure of the legal profession and the court system in different countries
-An understanding of the courts’ views of alternative dispute resolution and arbitration, disclosure of documents, how judgments and awards are enforced and how costs are apportioned between winning and losing parties
-An idea of the time and costs that different countries will demand of parties to litigation

Whether you are interested in drafting an appropriate dispute resolution clause for a contract between parties in Europe or in how a court in Vietnam or Argentina would enforce a contractual provision or court award, we hope that you will find this site a useful starting point."


Dealing With An Irate Person

Interesting post on How to Deal With An Irate Person using a technique called Pace and Lead. Instead of reacting in a calm manner, you first join the person in expressing emotions of equal intensity (e.g. Wow. Really? If that happened to me I would be upset, too.) and then gradually lead the person to a calmer place.


Teaching Peace

From this Staff Matters article:

In Teaching Peace - A Guide for the Classroom and Everyday Life (2003), Leah Wells uses work by Colman McCarthy to bring Gandhi's principles of non-violent solutions into contemporary consideration for people today. Interestingly, these principles connect very closely with contemporary writing about conflict resolution in Western society.

Colman expounds Gandhi's 9 steps as follows:

1. Define the conflict. What is it that you are actually fighting over?...Can one person believe the argument is over one issue and the other person believes the argument is about a completely different issue?

2. Work on what's doable...When you work on what you can actually do and accomplish, the tangible goals of resolving the conflict seem more real and viable.

3. Resolve the dispute in a neutral place...

4. Don't ask what happened. Ask instead 'What did you do?' Asking what happened elicits emotions and promotes blame. Asking 'what did you do?' encourages the person to use 'I' messages and focus on the facts of the situation.

5. List the shared elements of the relationship versus the one unshared separation...People, even those who are in the midst of a disagreement, still have common ground. We all have the need for love, acceptance, understanding, belonging and attention. These are good places to start when there are many hurt feelings or when the conflict is particularly heated.

6. It's not you versus me but you and me versus our problem... Colman says 'you're not the problem, and I'm not the problem but rather the problem is the problem'. We have to work together on solving our shared conflict and work at not demonising the other person but acknowledging their humanity and core value.

7. Work on your forgiveness skills...true forgiveness means that the evil act no longer stands as a barrier to the relationship, and that we must separate the evil from the evildoer.

8. Work on your listening skills...True listening means that you are hearing the words, the underlying messages, the heart messages and the intentions of the person and truly attempting to grasp what they are relating.

9. Purify your heart. One of my favorite things to ask my students is how they do this. Some say that they play sports, meditate, pray, sleep, hike, write in a journal or talk with friends. Many report that being close to nature makes them feel purified.


How to Say No to the Demands of Others

This article from Mediate.com excerpting The Power of a Positive No by William Ury,

offers specific key words or phrases you can use in saying No to the other's demand in a way that flows naturally from your Yes, your power, and your respect. Remember that your tone and underlying intent need to be congruent with your words if they are to have the right impact...

"No" or "No Thanks"...
"I Have a Policy"...
"I Have Plans" or "I Have Another Commitment"...
"Not Now"...
"I Prefer to Decline Rather Than Do a Poor Job"...

In short, know your limits, acknowledge them freely, and spend your time on what you can do well. Both you and the other will be better off in the long run.


General Counsel Favors Mediation and ADR

In a recent interview, Mark LeHocky, General Counsel at Dreyer's Grand Ice Cream, discusses a key tool for cost-control at his company:

I actively pursue a package of early dispute resolution tools -- starting with a disciplined internal review process and the use of mediation and other ADR devices regardless of the perceived strengths and weaknesses of the positions of each dispute matter. I have served as a mediator for the federal courts for 10 years -- one of my few pro bono activities now that my kids are grown up enough that I can stop coaching soccer teams. That experience, together with my background in private practice, has transformed my thinking about how disputes arise and, more importantly, how they grow and metastasize unnecessarily.

More often than not, disputes go on longer than they should and become bigger than they need to be due to misunderstandings as to facts as much as legal issues. Sorting those items out as soon as possible is the best for everyone concerned and helps to avoid the unnecessary buildup of litigation fees and other costs. That doesn't mean we don't litigate. We do so when the situation warrants and we use the best and the brightest lawyers. But that happens only after we have pursued the early dispute resolution path in rigorous fashion.

Hat tip to InhouseBlog for the link.


When Attorneys on the Same Side Disagree

"When multiple attorneys representing the same client disagree, mediation may be the answer

Excerpt from "Businesses at odds are turning to mediation"in the Nashville Business Journal:

In less than a year, [Jane] Cates' firm has handled about 200 conflict management cases. She says one interesting market they've discovered is fellow members of the bar, who they work with to settle disputes.

When multiple attorneys work on a team for a single client, for instance, the attorneys often can disagree on how to proceed with the case, explains Cates. And lawyers have been known to argue.

So resolving conflicts between fellow attorneys, Cates says, has turned out "to be a surprisingly good niche for us."
Read the rest of "Businesses at odds are turning to mediation"

Please see this idealawg post from which the foregoing was quoted for live links.


Beware of Cognitive Errors

"Attribution errors occur when we attribute behavior or some other quality to a person's character or disposition rather than to situation or environment--in other words, stereotyping. Our assumptions can blind us to the real causes or triggers of behavior.

Anchoring errors occur when we make our final diagnosis based on the direction our original diagnosis steered us in, closing our minds to other possibilities--which means our final diagnosis may be wildly inaccurate.

Confirmation bias, well known to mediators, is the very human tendency to seek out data that supports our assumptions and discount data that contradicts them."

For active links to related resources, see this Diane Levin post from which the foregoing was quoted.


Lend an Empathetic Ear

Richard Salem writes:

"Empathy is the ability to project oneself into the personality of another person in order to better understand that person's emotions or feelings. Through empathic listening the listener lets the speaker know, "I understand your problem and how you feel about it, I am interested in what you are saying and I am not judging you." The listener unmistakably conveys this message through words and non-verbal behaviors, including body language. In so doing, the listener encourages the speaker to fully express herself or himself free of interruption, criticism or being told what to do. It is neither advisable nor necessary for a mediator to agree with the speaker, even when asked to do so. It is usually sufficient to let the speaker know, "I understand you and I am interested in being a resource to help you resolve this problem."

As Tony Alessandra notes:

"William Ury, in his book, GETTING PAST NO, makes the point that every human being has a deep need for his or her feelings to be recognized. Knowing this can help tremendously in a difficult negotiation by creating a climate for agreement.

Ury counsels that it's important to acknowledge both the factual point, and the feelings of the other person. He uses the example of an employee approaching a boss. The employee says: "I just found out Dale makes two thousands dollars more a year than I do for the same job." Trying to explain why Dale makes more money, even if the reason is a good one, only makes the employee angrier. Instead, you must acknowledge the fact and the feelings first: "You think we're taking advantage of you and you're angry. I can understand that. I'd probably feel the same way."

That isn't what an angry person expects. By acknowledging the employee's feelings, you've helped him calm down. His next statement might be: "Well, why shouldn't I make as much as Dale does?" That shows he's ready to hear your explanation."

Empathy begins with listening. Richard Salem continues:

"Among its benefits, empathic listening

1. builds trust and respect,
2. enables the disputants to release their emotions,
3. reduces tensions,
4. encourages the surfacing of information, and
5. creates a safe environment that is conducive to collaborative problem solving...

The power of empathic listening in volatile settings is reflected in Madelyn Burley-Allen's description of the skilled listener. "When you listen well," Burley-Allen says, "you:

1. acknowledge the speaker,
2. increase the speaker's self-esteem and confidence,
3. tell the speaker, "You are important" and "I am not judging you,"
4. gain the speaker's cooperation,
5. reduce stress and tension,
6. build teamwork,
7. gain trust,
8. elicit openness,
9. gain a sharing of ideas and thoughts, and
10.obtain more valid information about the speakers and the subject.

To obtain these results, Burly-Allen says, a skilled listener:

1. "takes information from others while remaining non-judgmental and empathic,
2. acknowledges the speaker in a way that invites the communication to continue, and
3. provides a limited but encouraging response, carrying the speaker's idea one step forward."

Click on the above links for more information.


Business Facilitation ToolBox

The Business Facilitation Toolbox is as the name suggests a toolbox from the Global Facilitators Network with useful articles, presentations you can download to make your workshop preparation easier, a place to get new ideas and generally a one stop shop for what you might need as a facilitation professional. Free Registration is required to download materials.

Topics covered include:

Games and Energisers
Models and Processes
Workshop Preparation
Decision Making Strategies
Hints and Tips
Using Flip Charts
Negotiation Techniques
Problem People
and much more

Technorati Tags: , , , ,


Core Concerns Lead to Personal Conflict

Autonomy or the freedom to make decision's for oneself is one of five "core concerns" research identifies as critical in creating personal disputes. "The other core concerns are appreciation, or having actions acknowledged; affiliation, being treated as a colleague; status, feeling that others respect one's standing; and having roles and activities that are fulfilling. Cross one of the needs and conflict arises. Respect them, and [resolution] ...is around the corner...

Principled negotiation is a strategy that seeks to move both parties away from polarizing and usually entrenched positions, and into the realm of interests. It asks how both parties can get their interests satisfied while keeping their relationship strong. Negotiating well means neither party need feel cheated, manipulated, or taken advantage of."

So states this Psychology Today article. To get from here to there, the article suggests:

"Sit Down
This signals to the other person that time will be spent to hear their side. Never ask someone to talk if there isn't enough time to listen.

Find Common Ground...
Move In
Leaning in to the conversation indicates interest. Head nods also help in letting the other side know their thoughts are being followed...

Keep Your Cool...
Be Brief...
Forget Neutrality
Trying to control your emotions usually backfires...Instead, mine the situation to find whatever positive emotions can be brought to the table...

Avoid Empty Threats...
Don't Yield
Caving on important issues may seem noble...but it ruins a relationship...Instead, look for compromises. Compromise is like stretching. Stop doing it and pretty soon there's no way to bend at all..."


Bridging the Last Gap

"It's three o'clock in the morning. You’ve been negotiating or mediating since 9 a.m. and everybody is exhausted. Each side has made more concessions that it really thinks it should have had to, and the gap between the parties has narrowed to millimeters. But there it has stuck, and will stay stuck unless you do something new. Every sophisticated negotiator or experienced mediator has a personal answer to this problem, a private stock of a few gambits, often tried and sometimes successful. But John Wade has the longest list we have ever seen, 16 techniques in all. Not one of them works all the time, but together they can materially improve your batting average."

Read all about it in Chapter 54 of Wade's The Negotiator's Fieldbook found via this post from mediator blah...blah....


Characteristics of Effective Facilitators

"Effective [small group activity] facilitators are flexible. They modify their small-group activities before and during use.

Effective facilitators are adaptive. They modify their small-group activities along six critical tensions.

Effective facilitators are proactive. Before using a small-group activity, they modify it on the basis of the characteristics of the participants and the purpose of the activity.

Effective facilitators are responsive. They make modifications during the small-group activity to keep the different tensions within acceptable ranges.

Effective facilitators are resilient. They accept whatever happens during the small-group activity as valuable data and smoothly continue with the activity."

Read more in this article from thiagi.com


Commercial Mediation Manual

Bill Warters writes:

"Implementing Commercial Mediation was prepared by the World Bank Group's Small and Medium Enterprise Department in 2006. Using case studies, diagnostic and assessment tools, and stakeholder-specific marketing approaches, this manual provides strategies to overcome the challenges of building alternative dispute resolution programs in different national settings. The Task Manager was Alejandro Alvarez de la Campa. You can download the entire toolkit (PDF, 3.4MB), or choose one of its six chapters as noted below:

Introduction: the manual, meant for development professionals, starts with a description of its contents, applications, and limitations of ADR. (PDF, 60KB)

Chapter 1: defines individual ADR processes with attention to the features that distinguish them from conventional dispute resolution. (PDF, 103KB)

Chapter 2: provides a framework for assessing the feasibility of beginning ADR projects, using country and project-specific criteria. (PDF, 118KB)

Chapter 3: offers guidelines for designing ADR projects, centers and assessment tools, and building local partnerships. (PDF, 153KB)

Chapter 4: addresses implementation, with guidance on creating ADR-friendly environments, working within local legal contexts, and selecting cases for mediation. (PDF, 811KB)

Chapter 5: discusses why, when, and how to perform assessments that take into account resources used and outcomes achieved. (PDF, 674KB)

Chapter 6: presents lessons learned in developing ADR projects, highlighting the challenges of creating demand and sustainability. (PDF, 325KB)

The annexes: contain resources to assist program designers and managers, with descriptions of ADR procedures, case studies of projects in various country contexts, sample contract language and agreements, model codes of ethics for mediators, and a list of additional Web resources. (PDF, 3.4MB)."

Please refer to the referenced post for active links to the resources.


Culture Influences Negotiations

This article by Jeswalde W. Salacuse explains how cultural influences affect negotiation styles. Salacuse states:

"Negotiating styles, like personalities, have a wide range of variation...Ten negotiating traits...can be placed on a spectrum or continuum, as illustrated in the chart below. Its purpose is to identify specific negotiating traits affected by culture and to show the possible variation that each trait or factor may take."

Understanding cultural and other factors affecting the following negotiation traits will enable you to better understand your counterpart and how your negotiating style may be perceived by the person sitting across the table.

Conflict Resolution Skills Kit

"Have you ever had a conflict and wished you could have handled it better?
Conflict comes about from differences - in needs, values and motivations. Sometimes through these differences we complement each other, but sometimes we will conflict. Conflict is not a problem in itself - it is what we do with it that counts.

It is important that we do something because whether we like it or not, conflicts demand our energy. In fact, an unresolved conflict can call on tremendous amounts of our attention. We all know how exhausting an unresolved conflict can be. It is not always easy to fix the problem but a great energy boost can come when we do. Resolving conflict requires skills.

What are Conflict Resolution Skills?
They are the skills that enable us to bypass personal differences and to open up to possibilities. The skills of CR draw us closer to other people, as we jointly search for fair solutions and balanced needs. It involves a powerful shift from adversaries to co-operative partners. In this shift each person benefits.

CR Skills Create Better Work Climates and More Fulfilling Relationships
For the organisational manager, skilful conflict-handling is an important managerial tool. Conflict can be seen as an opportunity for learning more about the company - its bottle-necks and inefficiencies, as well as its areas of expertise. The learning potential of conflict often goes unrecognised when staff and management react with "fight" or "flight". "Flow", the third way, requires Conflict Resolution skills...

The Conflict Resolution Network has put together a toolkit of 12 conflict resolution skills - you can reach in and take out what fits for any occasion. They are: The Win/Win Approach, The Creative Response, Empathy, Appropriate Assertiveness, Co-operative Power, Managing Emotions, Willingness to Resolve, Mapping the Conflict, Development of Options, Negotiation Skills, Third Party Mediation and Broadening Perspectives..."


How Hostage Negotiation Works

"Although hostage situations can vary greatly based on the motivations of the hostage-taker and the exact circumstances surrounding the incident, there are some basic facts that apply to all hostage situations.

The hostage-taker wants to obtain something. This can be as simple as money, personal safety or safe passage to another country, or it can involve complicated political goals.

The target of the hostage-taker is not the hostage; it is some third party (a person, a company or a government) that can provide whatever it is the hostage-taker wants.

The hostages are bargaining chips. They may have symbolic value (as at the 1972 Munich Olympics, in which the target was the Israeli government and the hostages were Israeli athletes), but the hostages themselves could be anyone."

Read more in this article from Howstuffworks.


Negotiation and the Laws of Persuasion

"Being adept at persuasion is often the missing key to success in the workplace and your personal life. If you give people what they want via the Six Laws of Persuasion, they’ll most likely return the favor. And when you recognize that you are being manipulated, you can call the other side on their tactics and counter with an appropriate strategy. This will lead to a more effective way of achieving the goals of all negotiating parties...

Persuasion is the ability to influence people’s thoughts and actions through specific strategies. To become adept at this skill, you must first understand some basic principles, called the Laws of Persuasion. These six laws by themselves are neither good nor bad, but describe how most people respond to certain circumstances.Psychologist Robert Cialdini wrote the seminal book on the Laws of Persuasion, titled Influence:The Psychology
of Persuasion, in which he discusses the prevalent methods of marketing...

Here are Cialdini’s Six Laws of Persuasion:

Law of Reciprocity
Human beings, in general, try to repay in kind what another person has provided to them....

Law of Commitment and Consistency
People like to be (or at least appear to be) consistent in their thoughts, feelings, and actions...

Law of Liking
When you like someone, or believe that they are “just like you,” you are more inclined to want to please them...

Law of Authority
This is the law that uses celebrity endorsements or “expert” testimonials...

Law of Scarcity
If you are not sure you want to buy something, the minute it becomes “the last one available” you tend to have second thoughts...

Law of Social Proof...
You think if others are engaging in a specific behavior, it must be the proper thing to do..."

Read more in this article by Edrie Greer from Bnet.com.


Exploring the Language of Mediation

This research paper from Andrew Rixon, Viv McWaters and Sascha Rixon focuses on the question of “Is there is such a thing as ‘speaking facilitatively’?” Thinking in terms of ecologies of language use, it asks whether there may be a particular style of communication, and language, inherent within the practice of facilitation. Its findings"indicate that facilitators do have an implicit understanding of what it means to ‘speak facilitatively’. Furthermore, this style of speech appears to be based on respect for the group and encompasses linguistic politeness devices..."

The paper includes the following examples of facilitative language:

Setting of ground rules
“Our purpose today…”
“What is the purpose of our meeting?”
“What would be the ideal outcome?”
“Where do you want to have got to when we go out that door?”
“Relax and enjoy the journey”
“Everyone’s opinion is valued, there are no wrong answers”
“All ideas are valued”
“It’s an honour to work with you”

Acknowledging participants’ contributions
“That’s an excellent thought. You are very (sincere praise).”
“That interests me, say more”
“Thank you for sharing”
“Great- good- I like it- excellent- Spot on”

“Say more…”
“Can you say more about…”
“Could you say more?”
“Tell me more about that…”
“Can you tell me more about that?”
“Please, tell me more about that.”
“Yes, please go on.”
“Say more about that if you will…”
“Please tell me more about what you mean when you stated…”
“Tell us a little more about this.”

Garnering participation
“I’m wondering how this might look/appear/feel/seem to you?”
“I invite you to…”
“I’d like to invite you to participate in…”
“Tell me about a time when…”
“I’m curious to know what others think”
“What do others think?”
“Does anyone else have [something]?”

Reflecting and clarifying
“What I have heard is…”
”Am I correct in observing that…”
“So what you’re saying is…”
“What I’m hearing is…Is that right?”
“Please clarify”
“What I hear you saying…”
“Can you help me be more clear in my mind about…”

Good stuff.


Negotiate to Resolve Conflicts:

"All of us engage in many negotiations during a week but that doesn't mean we become better at it. To become better we need to become aware of the structure and dynamics of negotiation and we need to think systematically, objectively, and critically about our own negotiations. After engaging in a negotiation, reflect on what happened and figure out what you did effectively and what you need to do better.

There is no one "best" style; each of us has to find a style that is comfortable for us. Yet, everyone can negotiate successfully; everyone can reach agreements where all sides feel at least some of their needs have been satisfied. This involves a lot of alertness, active listening, good communication skills, great flexibility, good preparation, and above all it involves a sharing of responsibility for solving the problem, not a view that this is "their" problem.

To summarize the most important keys to successful conflict resolution:

*bargain over interests, not predetermined positions
*de-personalize the problem (separate the person from the problem)
*separate the problem definition from the search for solutions
*try to generate alternative solutions; try to use objective criteria as much as possible
*reflect on your negotiations; learn from your successes and mistakes"

Read more in this excellent negotiations overview from Professor E. Wertheim.


When a Picture is Worth a Thousand Words

"Visual-Literacy.org is an online introductory tutorial about how data, abstract thoughts, and concepts can be graphically represented to more easily gain useful insights. One of their knowledge map examples is this excellent Periodic Table of Visualization Methods. Rolling your mouse over each form of visualization brings up an example of the technique. It looks like it would very useful if you think a visualization is in order but you're not sure which specific kind to try."

Quotation comes from this Boing Boing post.


Mediation in Organizational Conflict Management

This article from ballew.org contains a good overview of conflict issues within organizations, suggesting useful ways to manage and resolve conflicts before the organization is irreparably damaged. Among the nuggets is this description of mediation and its potential uses within organizations:

"Mediation is a way of handling conflict in which two or more disputing parties meet with trained, impartial mediators in a good faith attempt to resolve their issues. The mediators facilitate an exchange in which the parties clarify the issues, hear each other's perspectives, provide new information and move toward an agreement. The mediators do not impose decisions or give advice. Mediation is a practical process through which the mediator assists the parties themselves to check facts, share feelings, exchange perceptions and ideas, and work toward agreement. In mediation the parties have responsibility for the resolution. An agreement is reached when the parties are satisfied with all of its terms.

Examples of workplace situations in which mediation works well are:

Disputes between co-workers or colleagues who are unable to function together in the workplace environment.

Interdepartmental conflicts.

Communication breakdowns/barriers."


Conflict Dynamics Checklists

For people struggling with difficult conflicts, these checklists from BeyondIntractability for intermediaries and adversaries hghlight conflict dynamics that are helpful to understand, as well as options for dealing with common problems. Topics covered include:

"International Conflict, Peacebuilding, Post-Conflict Stabilization
Public Policy
Workplace / Organizational Conflict
Interpersonal Conflict"