Thoughts and Insights by Michael Gregory

Disputes

Candle burning in foreground with lights in the background
August 15th, 2022

Does sympathy help during conflicts and negotiations?

Empathy puts yourself in someone else’s shoes emotionally. Sympathy by comparison is when you have feelings of pity or sorrow for someone else’s misfortune. In a dispute, conflict, or negotiation does sympathy work for or against you? You may be surprised. In this article by the Harvard Program on Negotiation they looked at five studies. What they found was that although you may have thought that sharing vulnerabilities may have caused the other side to pounce on the weakness, just the opposite was the case. Those that shared information about dealing with a difficult situation created a more mutually beneficial agreement. This commentary looks at this question a bit deeper.

five male and female professional dress in silhouette
August 1st, 2022

Business valuers, the IRS, and conflict resolution – Part 1 Setting the stage

This is the first in a six part series looking at this topic. Today the focus is on expert witnesses in federal court sessions having various rules to follow regarding their expertise and reports. Given these rules how can an expert demonstrate leadership, help with dispute resolution, or conflict resolution working with the client or client’s representative to resolve the case with the other party and the other expert? Business valuers are taught to be advocates for their position and not for their client. They are to be independent. Only a small number of cases actually make it to court. The question is how does an expert witness such as a business valuer serve their client best with an out of court settlement? This last question will be addressed in a future monthly blogs.

Four people in a negotiation
July 25th, 2022

Does lying in collaborative business deals really pay off?

As a promoter of collaboration, a mediator, a conflict resolution specialist, and a person that teaches ethics and negotiations, I did not initially appreciate the title  of The Dark Side of Collaboration offered by Scientific America. However, the subtitle of  “People working together often scheme to put profits ahead of telling the truth. New research points out ways to stop this behavior” gave me hope. I found this article extremely helpful and enlightening. This commentary that follows shares some of the highlights of that article and offers some additional observations.

African descent woman with hair in a bun walking away from the camera
June 20th, 2022

Diversity, Inclusion, Hair, and Business Results - What do they have in common?

What do diversity, inclusion, hair, and business results have to do with each other. Conflicts or disputes may arise from one of a number of issues. To avoid conflicts or disputes takes an active effort to promote communication and collaboration. When you think of diversity you likely think about the primary level of what you can see, and you think about areas such as race, age, ethnicity, gender, physical abilities, sexual orientation, and class. As a secondary level below the human surface, you may think of elements of religious beliefs, nationality, geographic location, marital status, parental status, education, income, work background, and military experience may come to mind. Finally at a third level elements of learning style, personality, or professional orientation may come to mind. All of these are relevant related to diversity, but in today’s commentary the focus is on the primary level with a focus on hair and what you can see.

Puzzle pieces for a difficult puzzle
May 30th, 2022

Ten tips to overcome difficult conversations

Have you been in a conflict or dispute with someone else and felt you were 100% right and that they were 100% wrong? Did it ever occur to you that, just maybe you were not 100% right. The easy decisions in life are truly yes-no decisions. However, the more difficult decisions and controversies tend to have shades of gray associated with them. You may perceive the other party as being difficult and you may be trying to determine how to deal with difficult people. This commentary explores steps you can take when you are in a strong disagreement with someone else. Instead of digging in and reinforcing your position, explore these ten tips to overcome difficult conversations

Three figures arguing with various colorful on each image
May 15th, 2022

What does it mean to disagree well?

To encourage collaboration, healthy competition, and overcome conflicts and disputes one technique you can apply is to disagree well. You like many in our society today appreciate monologues that are provided to you by those with whom you agree to reaffirm positions, how smart you are, and how angry you should be with those that do not share that same perspective. The classic example in our society today has to do with reds and blues in our current political environment. Braver Angels offers an opportunity to overcome these differences with dialogue. This is one example of how to disagree well. The commentary that follows addresses the issue of what does it mean to disagree well.

Hand holding a deck of cards
May 8th, 2022

The games people play in negotiations and mediations and how to address them

To avoid conflicts and to help resolve disputes in a negotiation or a mediation it is important to know your Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA) and to consider the other party’s BATNA in order to work to resolve the situation. Before entering into the situation knowing that if your BATNA is not met you will simply walk away gives you room to exercise your own power. Knowing that you have tried your best to work with the other side, but what has been offered will not be acceptable so you need to move on This article explores how knowing your BATNA and what to consider can help you in a negotiation. It is important to understand why negotiations fail.

A series of white doors with one gold door
May 1st, 2022

How amazing that our brain can adapt to address conflict and promote collaboration

You may believe that you cannot control your anger. You may believe that conflict and disputes are fixed in our brains. However, our brains are unique in that they are the only organ that has the ability to change and adapt. This is called neuroplasticity. Some interesting research has found how our brains can adapt even when up to half of the brain is missing. Now think about this from the perspective on how your brain can adapt and change when addressing conflict or a dispute.

A fist punching through a glass hole
April 24th, 2022

Overcome anger in negotiations and mediations

When involved in a negotiation, mediation, a conflict, or a dispute a natural response is to become defensive, angry, and/or frustrated when things do not go well. A question arises as to how you can remain focused on the problem, remain calm, confident, and competent without letting anger take over. When you are angry you are not thinking as clearly, you may make poor decisions, and the ramifications may be extremely consequential. Knowing this, the commentary in this article addresses how to prevent anger from taking over, and how to overcome anger should it surface in a negotiation or a mediation.

a scissors cutting the word impossible into two sections with "im" and "possible"
April 18th, 2022

Ten questions to mediate a dispute

On April 12, 2022 it was my pleasure to see and hear a virtual presentation by Dr Ken Cloke on the Future of Mediation:  Imagining a Conflict Resolution at the Mitchel Hamline School of Law sponsored by the Minnesota State Bar Association Alternative Dispute Resolution Section where I serve on the board. Based on his commentary and reflecting on my notes,  I am sharing some insights I took away from his program that I am offering to you from my perspectives. He gave me permission to share with you his “12 Questions for Anyone in Conflict.” These are focused on students, but these can be applicable in other situations too. Feel free to share these with others.

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