Working with Difficult People

May 20th, 2024
Dart hitting a dart board in the center

As a mediation and negotiation specialist, I am here to empower you with knowledge, whether it's ahead of time or when things have broken down. The proactive approach to education can significantly reduce the severity and number of harmful conflicts.  Disagreements, different priorities, different points of view, miscommunications, and differing personalities are all reasons for conflict in the workplace.  The following discussion delves into the root cause, recognizing the tell-tale signs and practical steps to take when disputes arise.

May 14th, 2024
Scrabble words "plan"

As a mediation and negotiation specialist, I deal with conflicts daily. To handle these conflicts effectively, I must consistently maintain a calm, confident, and competent manner. This mental focus and preparation allow you to concentrate on critical issues and create value. However, besides mental focus, it is equally important to remain flexible and to use time to your advantage.

The following discussion delves into these three aspects and offers insights to enhance your performance in your next negotiation, especially when you're up against the other party.

April 8th, 2024
two people on opposite sides looking at a 6 or 9 depending on how you look at it

As a mediation and conflict resolution specialist and with my books The Collaboration Effect and Peaceful Resolutions, I recently conducted additional research on this topic.  Stepping back and looking at the big picture, I wanted to share with you what I see as the seven keys to avoiding and resolving conflict. These are authentic connecting relationships, listening actively, practicing empathy, avoiding blame, using “I” statements,  having clear boundaries, and taking a break. These are each elaborated on in this commentary.

March 18th, 2024
Toddler with boxing gloves looking at the camera

As a conflict specialist in negotiation and mediation, I want to share with you the three major types of conflict and how to address each. These are task conflict, relationship conflict, and value conflict. A recent Harvard Law School Program on Negotiation article focused on this topic. This article summarizes key points and expands on this topic to give you additional pointers that will help you in these areas. Each type requires targeted conflict resolution tactics. Let us look at each type separately.

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.

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

December 5th, 2023
Light breaking through a dark cloudy sky

As a trusted leader, it's your responsibility to foster an environment where high-quality relationships thrive. Not only does your leadership foster a more pleasant workplace, it also contributes to increased productivity and job satisfaction. But often your job involves dealing with colleagues you don’t know well or may occasionally disagree with. Some of your colleagues may be in person and others may be virtual or hybrid. Here are 15 tips for educating and inspiring all of your colleagues to work better with one another, even when they have differences of opinion or limited interactions.

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.

October 16th, 2023
red white and blue elephant and donkey with an American flag behind them

As a successful mediator, negotiator, and conflict resolution specialist many have reached out to me and said Mike you need to go to Washington. I have consistently stated that is a much bigger problem than I can tackle, and then I thought even with reds and blues there are ways to argue with others that are diametrically opposed to your point of view. Take this video by Dr. Daniel Shapiro, Director of the Harvard International Negotiation Program. The commentary that follows takes major elements from this video and other experiences to offer a way out of the mess between reds and blues.

September 25th, 2023
Two parties addressing differences looking at each other with two computer screens in the background

At times conflicts can arise with customers or clients . As a mediation and conflict specialist I want to present you with  ideas on how to apply conflict analysis and resolution techniques to minimize negative impacts. To help with defining terms customers are people who pay for goods and services from companies or stores and clients are people who purchase professional services from a business or company to address a specific need or to solve a problem. When working with the public both require capabilities of how to address conflicts with customers and clients. This is the focus of the commentary that follows.

September 4th, 2023
Various blue face emoji's demonstrating emotions

Understanding emotions in a negotiation, mediation, or some form of alternative dispute resolution is critical. Emotions are often misunderstood during conflicts and when addressing conflict resolution and conflict management. Exceptional leaders understand this and are continual learners in this area. The following is summary commentary from two studies as presented from the Program on Negotiation as offered by the Harvard Law School with additional insights.

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