Select Page

Did You Know?

Tough to brakeMost conflicts in the workplace can be avoided. This is nothing new; you have probably heard that before. So why is it so difficult to prevent conflicts from erupting in the workplace damaging relationships, organizational cohesiveness, productivity, and so many other important facet of the organization? Regrettably, we are conditioned to take actions and make decisions that exacerbate the potential for conflict.

No conflict lands on your desk fully formed “out of the blue”.  While it may have caught you by surprise, it was building just beyond your horizon, and like a hurricane, it gave you a number of warnings that you either did not see, or did not interpret correctly. No conflict begins without someone or  more than one ignoring the first building block of any conflict – a disagreement.

The disagreement is the easiest of the potential conflict hurdles to overcome. By definition it simply means that you face a lack of consensus. Today, in thousands of offices, the executive, the manager, the team leader is telling the group there is a new project, program, or major purchase.  The teams form, and the initial strategies discussed. Before too many days pass disagreements will start to show up.

At this point no one is right and no one is wrong. A lack of consensus simply means different members of the team see the path to success differently. The first rule is do not defend your point of view. Begin by listening to the other members of the team, explain your point of view at the appropriate time, and discuss the differences. The disagreement stage is not the point in the process where one stakes out positions and begins to mount a defense. That is a recipe for failure.

Want to know more? Feel free to contact us at 832-452-8537, or 281-531-8133; or E-mail us at


On being clear

Nineteenth century illustration of manned whaling long-boats with harpooners. This whaling method of launching long-boats from a mother ship was used to hunt the bowhead whale and the Atlantic right whale, amongst others. Reports by late 16th century explorers of whales in the Arctic, led many European countries to begin to hunt them. Long-boats and hand-held harpoons were used. Until the harpoon gun was invented, to be used on steam- powered ships. By the 1970s, efficient whaling methods had led to the near extinction of many whale species before an international ban was imposed. Whale meat is used for food; whale oil for cosmetics; ambergris for perfumes.

used by permission of Microsoft

I read an article on the power of the short sentence not long ago. The blog post caught my attention because the writer used the works of Ernest Hemingway to make her point. I have several of his books and re-read one or two of them each year, and I agree with the woman who wrote the article. It is his use of the short sentence that adds power and drama to his stories.

In keeping with that article’s theme, I will keep it pithy (to echo a certain television commentator).  Conflict needs to be resolved by the parties that created the conflict in the first place. As a mediator, I make my living guiding parties in conflict through a briar patch of their own making, and the most successful mediations result from negotiations the parties take ownership from the start. In mediations where the parties have the most positive outcomes are those where, once I have set the stage, the parties find the outcome they need.

Many years ago I read a book about whale hunting in the 19th century. In the book there is a scene where the whales have been spotted, and the boats lowered into the water. As the boat crews are rowing toward the whales, the bo’sun is giving instructions to a rookie sailor.  He looked the rookie in the eye and told him that once the whaleboats were in the water, the most important job was not steering the boat, but keeping it from capsizing.

I always find that a useful mental image to take into a mediation. Want to know more? Visit us a