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Aisle Take Blame for $1000

On November 8, 2016, the world experienced a new level of blame, rocking the world of social media as people took in what, for some, was a surprising result. Over a week later, I still see posts blaming others. I don't know how beneficial that is.

Is it creating deeper friendships? No. I bet there has never been a time when Facebook's unfriend function has been more heavily utilized. Blame is not conducive to conflict resolution.

Is it persuasive? No. Putting people on the defensive is not a good way to help them be receptive to listening to your concerns much less addressing them. Plus, we need to collaborate, and that means gaining trust and sharing responsibility.

It's disempowering to give responsibility away because if we give it away, then we cease to look at what we could do differently next time and how we can collaborate in conflict resolution for this event. We also lose credibility, and we stop looking for ways we can respond going forward. That's true regardless of...

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4 Reasons Why Your "Opponent" May Be Your Most Effective Teammate

I don't know about you, but I find that working against people doesn't really get me where I want to go. It takes time, energy, and focus away from what I want to achieve, and it also doesn't help others help me.

Think about it for a second. If someone appears to you to be a pain, to where you want to just do something to get them out of your hair and off your back, could that be a good person to work with toward solving their problem? I mean wouldn't it be better to have them on your team, to collaborate, than to meet them in a dark alley? (Okay, probably on the phone or in your face, but you get the point.)

And then there's this...Can you really solve their problem without them? No. You need them to tell you what the problem is and what they will accept; you need them to sign off. And if you wind up in some of the situations I have been in, you may also find that you need them to negotiate with you and recognize that what they really want/need is different than what they asked for.

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Are You Giving Your Clients What They're REALLY After?

When you go to a movie, play, musical, or concert, you aren't going just to see or hear it; you're going for the experience of it, the state that doing so effects in you. Maybe it's to laugh or be uplifted; maybe it's to feel emotionally moved or scared. Whatever it is, you aren't just going so that you can see a performer; you go for the impact it has on you. And if you are a mediator or attorney, chances are your clients are there to see you for the same reasons.

It's true! A person doesn't come to you because of a situation; they come because of the emotion or other effect that situation has brought about, and they have a desire to change that. They believe that by hiring you, they will be able to change the situation and thereby change the impact on emotion or other effect. There's a problem with that, though.

A lot of times we can change the situation by changing our state first, not the other way around. That's particularly true with someone who is too highly emotional - they...

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Beyond De-escalation™ is Scheduled to Launch in November!

de-escalation Oct 12, 2016

De-escalation is something you may not need daily, but it may still be worth learning. Some de-escalation skills can be used regularly for more effective communication in many everyday occasions. And that's Beyond De-escalation™ is about.

Our de-escalation system, scheduled to be available on November 9, 2016, features an acronym for easy recall and some techniques and strategies you may use daily in the course of your regular practice. In fact, this de-escalation system was developed by Joyce after identifying the pattern for what worked so well in situations involving hostages and hostility, and most of the strategies were ones she used regularly.

Joyce has successfully de-escalated high emotions in a number of situations, and each time she drew from her eclectic experience. She draws from training and experience in legislative advocacy, mental health first aid, law, and coaching, to name a few of the fields Beyond De-escalation™ touches on. But you don't have to go...

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The "Lights, Camera..." Before the Action of Mediation or Negotiation

Impasse. Before we even ask the question of what we do about it when we get there, it's a good idea to ask what more we can do to avoid it. Two ideas come to mind, and both happen before the parties even enter the room. Because like any picture, where the backdrop, the lighting, and the camera can make an extraordinary photograph of an ordinary object, setting the stage for mediation can also offer powerful results. Because like any picture, where the backdrop, the lighting, and the camera can make an extraordinary photograph of an ordinary object, setting the stage for mediation can also offer powerful results.

One way is to help clients set a standard for success, and that may also mean that you help them shift from a single point of expectation to the greater range of a standard. That alone can increase the chances of a satisfactory outcome for clients. One reason for this is that it helps you ensure that your style is appropriate. It also gives a little context, setting the...

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Why "Parrot Phrasing" May Not Start Discussion on the Right Foot

In trainings for mediation, parrot phrasing has been identified as the way to reflect back what we hear the parties say in their opening statements, and I'm not so sure that's the best way to do that. In fact, it's one of my pet peeves for a number of reasons:

1.) By itself, it may break rapport with the other person. If a party says something, and it creates a shift in another party, repeating it could put us, unnecessarily, on thin ice and cause that other party to escalate or shut down.

2.) At the same time, it may come across as mimicking or unnatural, and parties can pick up on that, causing them to question what we say. That's a tough thing to recover from, especially when that is an early impression.

3.) Using the same words back doesn't mean we "get it." It means we can copy, and that may not build confidence right out of the gate. It also may represent a lost opportunity to start bringing the parties together.

4.) In fact, if we do use the same words, it could reinforce...

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Warning: You Must Use This Key or You May Lock Yourself Out

Have you ever gone deeper into something you didn't expect to like, only to discover you actually did like it after all? I did that with business law in college. The course I took to prove to myself it wasn't a good fit turned out to be something I liked so well I went to law school and got a license to practice law. And you can see how law school can change the way you see the world around you. A banana, for example, is no longer just a fruit; it is also a harbinger for a tort. Life experiences, especially as a first-year law student, suddenly present as questions for a final or a bar exam.

When we change our perception of one thing, we are in a different position than we were in before, and that means we are now in a different position with respect to other things. That's why if we quit looking for our keys or glasses and focus on something else, the keys or glasses turn up. Conflict resolution works the same way.

When I am mediating cases, one of the best things I can do is...

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1 Listening Skill You Can Develop Further without More Training

One of the hallmarks of a good employee is someone who is willing to bring the difficult things to your attention. It shows ownership and thinking beyond personal responsibilities. Further, stripping people of that ability is a catalyst for conflict, not to mention loss of morale and other costly issues. So how do we encourage this?

One of the best ways is also a key element of effective communication - develop great listening skills. Scheduling, one of the listening skills, can be accomplished without further training. And it's critical for good client communication and staff communication. There's more to it than we may think, though.

When client or staff person asks if they can share something or if they can have a moment, they're asking for focus. They care enough to bring something to your attention or ask for your perspective. In order to respect them, then, it may work best to schedule them for another time. When scheduling, be sure to ask about the nature of the conversation...

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How to Navigate Communication "Like a Boss"

In a previous post, I asserted that we can ask better questions, get better answers, and have better outcomes as a result. Let's look at last week's public hearing involving the U.S. Attorney General to discuss some things we can use to make that happen.

The U.S. Attorney General was not just acting as an attorney; she also works in the political arena and was being questioned publicly on a topic that might have threatened her job. This was high stakes for her so we could reasonably expect her to bring the best game she could, requiring the people questioning her to do the same in order to succeed.

First, in order to be at their best, they needed to be extremely clear on what specific outcome they wanted and the exact points needed to secure that outcome. That gives focus and helps to develop the line of questioning. But if we really want results, asking questions doesn't stop at asking a question. It also involves adjusting and taking another pass when we don't get the answers we...

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Why Flexibility is Critical to Effective Communication

In discussions regarding a political hearing, people were expressing frustration at how the whole thing was "a farce," "a waste of time," "disappointing," etc. That is frequently the case when communication doesn't result in the desired outcome. And while that can be frustrating, there are things we can do for more effective communication and to change the outcome. One of the biggest is having flexibility.

It's been said that the system with the greatest flexibility wins. We've all heard the analogy to the stiff, dry twig breaking while the green twig of similar diameter bends, and it's true for communication as well. When we ask, say, or nonverbally communicate something the recipient may have an unexpected or undesired response. We've all had that happen. And we can't change that, but we may be able to change the final outcome, because we still have the opportunity and maybe even the responsibility, in some cases, to respond accordingly.

We have responsibility for our part of...

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