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 is endless.

To the outside observer, the dispute can seem ridiculous, something so small, so trivial, that you can’t believe the parties are arguing over it.

To the parties involved, however, life ain’t necessarily so simple. There lots more than “buying a $27 table” at stake.

I leave it to the good folks from Temple Sholom Cincinatti to cleverly lay bare both the ridiculousness and what’s at stake, in this funny and educational 5-minute video:

THE LITTLE TABLE from Temple Sholom Cincinnati on Vimeo.

(video not displaying? watch it here, on Vimeo)

As a conflict mediator…

I feel the video (I am grateful to my wife for bringing it to my attention) warmly, in a tongue-in-cheek manner, conveys the drama of ‘much-ado over nothing’, and reminds me of common elements faced in the mediator role: keeping the focus on staying hard on the problem (no matter how small) and soft on the people, balancing content (e.g., small table) and process (decision-making) and relationship (feelings), dealing with escalation of hostility, negotiating a solution…

From a marketing perspective…

This video is one of a regular, ongoing, series of light-hearted videos produced by Temple Sholom Cincinatti. The videos seem to be a smart way to connect with their audience, existing and potential. The frequency and regularity of the videos represents a good communication practice.

The humour grabs our attention. The actors in the videos are actual members of the congregation, including the Rabbi in some videos. The production is informal, down home, yet tight. The dialogue is brisk and witty. I venture that the participants had fun making the video; a temple and/or team-building exercise?

I don’t know the impact of these videos, to-date, on the Temple, from a membership/economic perspective, yet, I bet they’ve increased the Temple’s visibility in the local community (not too mention far, far away), and in the context of religion today, that all bodes well. A model for other types of boards, and nonprofits to follow?

What other positive messages would you draw from this video?


[Collaborative Journeys provides conflict management services for small to medium-sized businesses, nonprofits and local governments. Contact Ben for a free consultation.]


  1. What an awesome video. Thank you Ben for showcasing it and for your analysis of the lessons it imparts so lightly and with humour.

  2. Thanks Yuki. It helps having good source material (video) to riff on!

  3. Thanks Ben! I feel like this is so many meetings (& mediations) I’ve been in lately… nice article.

  4. Thanks Kyra. I agree with your “so many…”, its ubiquitous to so many daily/work scenarios (sigh).

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