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Our blog about communicating throughout conflict

Elaboration on Collaboration

A colleague and I were talking about collaboration today. It all started when I said there are 3 essential elements for conversations, especially conversations involving conflict: listening, relating, and collaborating. She doesn't believe that collaboration is always involved though; she thinks that sometimes attorneys just have to break the bad news. But that all depends on your definition of collaboration.

For me, collaborating means working together to achieve a goal or complete a task or project. The attorney-client relationship is, by definition, a collaboration - You've built a relationship working together to resolve or prevent an issue. Even if you're breaking the bad news, that conversation can still be collaborative.

 You start out as usual, listening, then relating, and then you begin more interactive discussion.  Even if your initial reason for the conversation is to break the bad news, and even if your client's options are exhausted, you can come up with a...

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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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Warning: Losing Blood Flow to Your Little Finger May Cause Uncontrollable Contentment

One Easter I was out on a walk when I heard a child crying. I was heading toward some apartments, so I didn't pay too much attention, figuring parents were nearby. But as I continued to walk, the crying turned into full-on panic-stricken wailing that not only went unchecked, but continued to escalate. Snagged. Even as I felt the screams radiate through my body, they led me by the heart strings until I laid eyes on a toddler who was going to every door, trying to get in. She ran toward me when I squatted down, called to her gently, and held my hand out, smiling encouragingly.

She was obviously terrified as she stifled sobs, clutching tightly to her doll and her newest acquisition - my little finger. While I was looking for her, I saw other people rush right by her, visibly shrinking as they rounded their shoulders, ducked their heads, and took smaller, quicker steps, almost as if they didn't want her to see them. How was it, then, that now this busy apartment complex, previously...

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Why Labeling "Difficult People" May Stunt Your Growth

There are a lot of classes about how to "Deal with Difficult People," and I am concerned that will not lead to effective communication or de-escalation. Though I realize the title may be a marketing ploy, just the assumptions within the title raise doubts about how effective they can be. And if that is a ploy, then it points to the fact that other people are using that term to identify their problem.  But are there really "difficult people" in the world? I mean, is that all they are? Or is the use of that label allowing us to get lazy in our response, making our results mediocre at best, not to mention dangerous at worst?

Terms like that suggest other people are the only issue and we can only deal with the people, but that is far from the truth.  We can respond in the heat of the moment, and the best response will probably involve collaborating. In fact, that is the epitome of effective communication and de-escalation, not to mention staff communication. Before we can do...

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