Smart Urban Design Focuses on Safety and Relationships for Healthier Interactions

Whenever I rush into a difficult conversation without first creating a safe space to have that conversation, I invariably regret my impulsivity. Difficult conversations, especially relationship-oriented ones, demand paying attention to the ‘how’ conversation is to take place as much as ‘what’ the conversation is about. No matter the place, safety precedes authentic conversation. Relationships […]

Apply a “My 15%” Rule to Develop and Leverage Conflict Competency in Your Organization

The U.S. Army has what it calls its’ “My 15%” rule.  Believing that most people have about 15 percent control over their work situations, the Army asks everyone, no matter their rank, “What’s your 15% of the problem?” “Where do you have freedom to act?”, for mutual benefit. No matter your organization, to me: adopting a”my 15%” […]

How to minimize the extent unconscious bias impacts your decision-making process

“That’s not what I meant to say.”  Yet, I did.  Was I tripped up by my unconscious biases? The list of cognitive biases, a subset of our unconscious biases, is long (150+). Biases influence how we behave in the world. Unconscious bias is a performance killer “Unconscious bias is a powerful yet quiet performance killer. It literally […]

A “Strong Middle” is Vital for a Healthy Workplace Conflict Management System

All too infrequently, I get down on the floor and do a few sit-ups. I’m doing it knowing the benefits of a strong middle (i.e., core). The body functions better, is healthier, with a strong middle. I know that. You know that. What’s less obvious is that a strong middle also applies to workplace conflict […]

Union-Employer Collective Agreements emphasize rights over power

When I was 18 years old, I had no interest in school. So, I went to work at National Steel Car, in Hamilton, Ontario. The company made railway cars. The scale of the operations was huge, overwhelming for me. At the time, I felt a boy among men. Yet, as a (Steelworkers) union member I was […]

My “Expressing Feelings” Algorithm for Difficult Workplace Conversations and Problem-Solving

“Never mind all that feelings stuff, let’s just do it”. Just do it. Just do the work. If only life were so simple. In the workplace, jointly solving problems often involves difficult conversations, and conflicting views. Difficult conversations won’t go well unless feelings are surfaced. We have to have those conversations. Change happens, finding solutions to […]

The 911 Emergency Dispatcher and the Workplace Conflict Manager: Your Solutions Connectors

Learning on the job is great, unless someone’s life or job depends on it. I often meet workplace managers who run quite successful businesses, yet feel somewhat lost, ill prepared, when a conflicted employee knocks on their door. On the contrary, 911 emergency dispatchers know exactly how to respond. The effective 911 dispatcher and workplace manager […]

Mediating the destruction of Confederacy statues in the U.S.A.

One conflict that took centre stage over the last week had to do with statues commemorating the Confederacy, and their link to racism and white supremacy. (The image above is of Confederate General, Robert E. Lee, and is in Charlottesville, Virginia; credit: Joshua Roberts/Reuters) From an early age, I was put on notice about racists and […]

Make Conflict Your Organization’s Strategic Advantage

Recently, I helped a nonprofit mediate an internal conflict. The conflict involved people who were avoiding each other, because of the conflict. People often avoid each other because of conflict. However, when the employees are co-workers who need to work together, the cost of this avoidance can be high, on morale, collaboration and productivity. Alas, workplace conflict […]

Shalom: Dispute and conflict and educational moments in a nonprofit board

Disputes are conflicts, our differences, brought to light. In 14 years of mediating business and community disputes, I’ve observed that a dispute is also, as often as not, a proxy for a hitherto unexpressed conflict, be it a gap in communication, a feeling that somethings not quite right, here, a hot button pushed… the list […]