The Collaboration Effect© is all about connecting relationships, listening actively, and educating judiciously to build relationships and negotiate closure. Previous commentary on connecting relationships and listening actively lead us to today’s commentary on educating judiciously. That is the focus of this commentary. How can you educate someone else the way they want to be educated when conflict is involved?


Knowing that you must address areas of conflict there is a real need on how to handle difficult situations effectively. By taking the time to learn more about others and to connect with them is important. You need to be able to relate to them with where they are coming from. This goes a long way towards educating when involved with a conflict. You can connect with them by learning about them on line (Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, and other sources), finding out about them with your network, and researching other sources. Look for ways that you can relate to one another.


When you have the chance to interact with them, focus on listening actively. This means to really listen to them. Listen to them first. Once a person has been listened to, they are far more apt to listen to you. To listen actively you need to:

  • Paraphrase
  • Ask open ended questions
  • Sympathize
  • Suspend Judgment
  • Empathize
  • Do NOT offer advice


It is especially hard to suspend judgment and to not offer advice. You have so much you want to say. This takes patience and practice. Our social media teaches and reinforces us with retaliation, sweet revenge, making them feel as bad as you or worse, and escalation. This makes our primitive brain feel better. However, to overcome conflict you need to step up your game. With practice you can improve your ability to do this. It takes thought up front and intended action on your part to focus, have a deliberate attitude to overcome come conflict and listen actively.

Once you have connected with them and listened to their concerns the question  is, so how can you educate them the way the way they want to be educated? That is the focus of this commentary

Educating Judiciously

There have been various theories about how individuals learn. There also is thought about the validity of these theories. A brief commentary on the theoretical learning styles is presented followed by additional insights.

Learning Styles

There are host popular learning styles. Some of the most popular are:

  • Visual learners – They like to see it like a daily planner
  • Auditory learners – Like listening to a story versus reading about it
  • Kinesthetic learners – Enjoy physically moving or doing things (let the doodle)
  • Reading/Writing learners – They enjoy words, reading, writing, and speaking
  • Verbal learners – Love word games, teaching others, reading, and writing
  • Mathematical learners – Appreciate logical information, research, science, and statistics
  • Solitary and intrapersonal learner – Prefer working alone and figuring it out on their own
  • Social learners – Want to work in groups for a collaborative solution

With this overview of learning styles, the question is how to you embrace various learners and what if you still do not have an insight on how the other party learns.

Additional insights

No two people learn the same way at any given point in time, but there are key points that can help when trying to educate someone else with what you are thinking. As an idea after you have really listened to them, think about this from their perspective. Where are they coming from and why? There is no one style that has been found to be the best approach. People are complex and think differently. Presenting material multiple ways helps bring the point across.

The Asking Formula

In his book, The Asking Formula, John Baker offers a three step approach to get what you want. You need to:

  1. Know what you want?
  2. Ask for it.
  3. Have three reasons why what you are proposing is beneficial to them.

Then listen to what they have to say. Close your mouth. Respond to their questions. You may have a lot you want to say, but by taking this approach you are allowing them to define what it is they want to say or know with what they really want to know. You may identify hidden interests. It is not about you. It is all about the both of you working towards what will work, but to make it work you need to know what it is that they want. By taking this approach you may be able to collaborate on mutual interests.

Words and visual

Having commentary that addresses not only the verbiage but also provides visuals can often help make what you are presenting real to the other party. Some people like to hear it. Others like to see it. Still others may need to doodle to keeps their hands busy while you are sharing in any form. The key is to offer multiple forms of material to cover the same topic.

Brining it all together

Build authentic connecting relationships with the other party. Ask them how they prefer to receive information. Then work with them to provide the information that will make sense to them. Plan it out ahead of time. Go over it ahead of time with an outline. Have visuals. Give them a chance to think about what it is you are proposing. Listen to them. Answer their questions. Be there to help even in a conflict.

Being adaptable, having a positive attitude, with a prepared plan, being inclusive of everyone, and having a participatory environment where everyone can contribute makes a huge difference.

There is no one size fits all, but hopefully here are some ideas that can help you with educating the other party. Once you have worked to develop a connecting relationship, and listened to them first, consider how best to educate the other party. Let me know what you think. What works for you?

To learn more about this topic and popular learning styles check out this article by Kris Taylor at Taught Up

About the author

Mike Gregory is a professional speaker, an author, and a mediator. You may contact Mike directly at and at (651) 633-5311. Mike has written 12 books (and co-authored two others) including his latest book, The Collaboration Effect: Overcoming Your Conflicts, and The Servant Manager, Business Valuations and the IRS, and Peaceful Resolutions that you may find helpful. [Michael Gregory, ASA, CVA, MBA, Qualified Mediator with the Minnesota Supreme Court]