May 27th, 2024
A person using a pen to map their way through a puzzle

From the books The Servant Manager, Peaceful Resolutions, and The Collaboration Effect, here are six well-documented ideas for a successful negotiation. As a mediation and negotiation specialist, I wanted to share these with you.  Hopefully, they will help you, too.  These six ideas are:

  1. Identify core values/beliefs you have in common
  2. Be tough on the problem and gentle on the people
  3. Acknowledge your emotions and theirs without blame
  4. Treat others as they would like to be treated
  5. Positions polarize – interests integrate
  6. Acknowledge and appreciate areas of agreement – put a positive spin on your message
May 6th, 2024
A thunderstorm

As a negotiation and mediation specialist with more than 2,500 experiences over 30 years, I can say that sometimes hard bargaining works, but only if used with collaborative approaches and if both parties want to work toward an agreement. Hard bargaining by itself rarely works. However, hard bargaining coupled with collaborative techniques markedly improves the probability of success. The following commentary explains why this is so and offers suggestions on how to work with a hard bargainer who may be unprincipled.

April 22nd, 2024
background with three people and a red arrow indicating

As a negotiation and mediation specialist, I was struck by the article “How Much Does Personality in Negotiation Matter?” offered by the Harvard Program on Negotiation. Working with a challenging counterpart and a client who is agreeable to working things out, this article hit a nerve. I shared this article with my client, and we took a professional yet less agreeable approach to the negotiation. Read on about personalities in a negotiation and how this negotiation turned out. 

April 1st, 2024
Five people negotiating in a meeting

Not everyone is a great negotiator, and even good negotiators can improve. With more than 2,500 mediations and negotiations under my belt as a mediation and negotiation specialist, I offer some ideas to help you sharpen your skills.

March 4th, 2024

As a mediator and conflict resolution specialist, working on some exciting and complex situations has been my pleasure. After one session between two boards of directors, the chairman of one of the boards complimented me by saying I am not a problem solver, but rather a solution provider.

I did not know what he meant by that comparison, so I asked him. He explained this to me. Given his comments and several years of reflection on the difference between problem solver and solution provider, along with the experience of many negotiations and mediations, I want to share some thoughts with you.

These thoughts are related to this topic and might help you when you find yourself in a conflict or negotiation. 

February 19th, 2024
Tower at Harvard University

As a mediation and negotiation specialist, I am always looking to improve my skills associated with conflict resolution. Katie Shonk is the editor of the Negotiation Briefings newsletter associated with the Program on Negotiation at the Harvard Law School. Starting with her well-written article on 5 Conflict Resolution Strategies, I build on her commentary and offer additional thoughts based on my over 30 years as a mediator and negotiator. Hopefully, these practical examples will help you too.

February 5th, 2024
An IRS article, other spreadsheet papers, a mouse, and a cup

As a mediation and negotiation specialist that worked for the IRS at all levels for over 28 years, I want to share with you how conflict resolution and mediation works at the IRS . It was my pleasure in 2020 to bring mediation to the large case business program (at the time LMSB – Large and Mid-Size Business and later LB&I Large Business and International). Over time 2,500 field specialists were trained in mediation while I worked at the IRS. What follows is commentary to explain various stages of issue resolution at the IRS and how an expert in this area can help navigate these processes.

January 22nd, 2024
Two goats butting heads

As a mediation and negotiation specialist that blogs weekly on issues related to conflict resolution and collaboration I want share with you what I see as a very well written concise commentary by Abraham Dameh on how to handle disagreements. His nine points of Listening actively, Empathy, Be Calm, Build Bridges, Collaborate, Neutral Language, Mediation, and Reflection on Lessons learned absolutely resonates with me. I took his 9 points and offer some additional thoughts that I think could help you too

January 8th, 2024
The world globe on the left and various social on the right

As a mediation and negotiation specialist I work in conflict resolution where initially each party typically has a position. They believe they are right, and the other party is wrong. Behind every position are interests. Interests are the seeds to a solution between the parties. Knowing this, I want to ask you, given your position on something if you might be the person who could be at least partially wrong? Is it possible you are the yahoo in the room rather than the other person being the yahoo? Is it possible you could be wrong given the information that you have and know to be facts? You don’t know what you don’t know.

December 11th, 2023

As a business valuation mediator and negotiator addressing conflicts associated with complex valuations it is inevitable that positions can become entrenched. The process of business valuation often gives rise to challenging disputes that seem insurmountable and intractable with family owned businesses and with federal income tax issues. These conflicts can leave all parties involved feeling stuck, frustrated, and disillusioned. However, addressing these disputes with intellect, creativity, insight, and perception can pave the way to a resolution that not only benefits the parties but also strengthens the foundation of their business relationships.

November 27th, 2023
Building a bridge from both directions for the Hoover Dam

Want to be a bridge builder across differences based on neuroscience? This article from the Greater Good Science Center at the University of California at Berkeley offers great insights. Starting with that article as an experienced mediator and negotiator that focuses on conflict resolution additional commentary is provided that expands on some of the observations to help you work with others to overcome conflicts or disputes. Read on to learn more.

The article offers five ways to have better conversations across differences. These are to

  1. Listen to their story
  2. Try not to take anything personally
  3. Be a bridge, and not a barrier
  4. Lean into discomfort
  5. Set norms to create a safe and brave container

The commentary that follows uses similar headings, highlights key points from the article and offers additional thoughts to enhance results.

October 30th, 2023
Graph showing downward red graph changing over to an upward green graph

Having helped clients address issues at work business to business, business to government, and within businesses with workplace conflict professionally, and as a volunteer with housing disputes, in conciliation court and between gangs, I want to help you build resilience and reduce your stress when in a conflict . As a mediation and conflict resolution specialist I want to share with you three ways you can reduce stress when you are in conflict. Conflict in and of itself is stressful. When you are stressed, this impacts your ability to think clearly, your health, your job, and your relationships with others. In organizations it has an even larger impact on productivity, morale, grievances, sick days, turnover, and negatively impacts customer service, employee satisfaction, and business results.

The commentary that follows focuses on speaking up timely, with the other party directly, and considering mediation as an alternative to any of these areas of conflict.