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Conflict Resolution Tips and Blog

Are You In Touch With The Soul of Conflict in Your Work?

Coming off of an incredible week of interviews and interacting with so many of you in The Soul of Conflict Tele-Summit, I experienced a huge crash. It had been a time of taking in almost an overload of information that confirmed much and shifted even more. There is a newness to my mindset when it comes to my work and a big part of what I am experiencing is gratitude and a sense of satisfaction that so many of us are moving in the same direction.

But I did spend much of yesterday in a place of deep sadness that I later realized was the surfacing of unresolved conflict in me that extends to my work. Why do I do the work that I do? Why do you? I have heard it said that…

We are often attracted to the work that we do by a particular need within us.

Often, I have heard people express the desire to help others who have had a particular hurt that they themselves have had. Other popular reasons I am sure we each have heard are… “I want to keep people from making the same mistake I did” or “I’m doing this to stop things like this from happening to anybody else.” Both of which indicate that many of us do the work that we do because of something uncomfortable, unpleasant or just plain bad that happened in our life.

Certainly, the tremendous amount of conflict that existed in my extended family between my dad’s five sisters, sometimes my mom or dad and some of us cousins turned every family gathering (of which there were hundreds in my lifetime) into a war of hateful, nasty words, hurtful gossip, accusations and threats. It would make sense then that I would want to do the work of helping people resolve conflict. If you look at your work in the world, I suspect that you can make the connection between your childhood, teen-life or early adult experiences and how you extend yourself in service these days.

But what the summit did was allow me to dig deep into the question of whether or not I have been living my life and doing the work from the place of equating things that have happened to me with experiencing things that have happened. Stay with me here.

What I recognize about The Soul of Conflict is that if I am truly dealing with the experience then I am working it all through. That means identifying, surfacing, looking at and then doing the work of healing those old wounds left by the first part of the experience (the incident, the harm). If I label it as something that happened to me, I can convince myself that I have left it in the past without acknowledging the wound it has left within me.

To see the full experience through means acknowledging the effect it has had within me and working to feel, release and make the changes necessary to end its affect. As I reflect upon how many of us in conflict resolution work are sometimes the worst at conflict resolution in our lives, I also wonder how many of us as therapists, teachers, parents would admit that we are less than our best when it comes to using the tools of our work in our own lives, particularly during conflict.

Now is not the time for untruths. If we look into The Soul of Conflict in our lives we will find what we have left behind that needs attending to.

Award winning Author, Speaker and Top Business Coach, Pamela Slim speaks to this in this short and powerful clip from her Soul of Conflict Summit interview.

I hope you will watch it and then sign up for The Soul of Conflict Challenge where we get to the work of beginning to Heal Old Wounds.

Sign up here…


The Conflict that Resides Within A Question. Are You Ready For the Answer?

How far would you go to get an answer to your one burning question?

Daryl Davis traveled to the very people that hate him. What kind of courage does it take to ask a sibling that is gravely ill to increase her pain by healing the old wounds that have created lasting conflict between the two of you? Elizabeth Lesser exhibited that kind of raw courage when she chose to become a bone marrow donor for her sister.

These are the kinds of conflict that challenge so much of what we think and believe. They push us to look at our own capacity for facing and resolving conflict.

Daryl DavisAt the young age of 10, Daryl Davis was cruelly attacked while marching in a Cub Scout parade. As the only black face in the parade, he was offensive to many white adults in the crowd and their reactions were to throw bottles, cans and whatever they could find at him. When he returned home and his parents explained racism to him, he held both disbelief and curiosity. His question, “how can you hate me when you don’t even know me,” would lead him to the depths of hatred, the Ku Klux Klan.

elizabeth-lesserElizabeth Lesser found the answer to her question a lot closer to home. When her sister was diagnosed with a life-threatening disease, Elizabeth was a match as a bone marrow donor. The painful transplant process was only half of the challenge that Elizabeth and her sister took on. The deeper and in some ways more painful journey came in asking the question, “if we are really talking about healing can we start with the old wounds of our relationship?” That kind of conflict resolution requires deep commitment to surfacing, examining and healing what is holding you back from moving forward in your relationship.

The opportunity to sit with Daryl and Elizabeth and delve into the raw, honest truth about their experiences opened the door to my own thoughts and a desire to engage in the work of learning how to live my life on the highest level possible.

I believe that the times are requiring that of each of us. We can no longer avoid the conflicts that are ripping our homes, places of businesses, communities, the nation and world apart. Learning to resolve conflict one meaningful response at a time is no longer a request, but rather a demand that our world is placing on us.

Are you ready?

Join me for the Soul of Conflict Tele-Summit: Healing Old Wounds to hear the rest of their compelling stories and so many more.

Let’s do the work of forward together. Go to:


It’s 2017. Are You Ready for Conflict?

At this point in history there is really no escaping conflict anymore. Yes, most of us are avoiders, but we are running out of ways to avoid confronting conflict, because it is the biggest thing in our lives thanks to this election.

As a nation, we are experiencing a split like no other.

Whichever side you come down on I know you feel it. People have been cut off by friends and family. Choosing sides and taking a defensive stand is epidemic. Ultimatums, the silent treatment, defiant pronouncements, arguments, fistfights are all on the rise.

The range of emotions we are experiencing run the gamut of grief, deep sadness, shock, disgust, disappointment, shame, embarrassment, hatred, elation, relief, joy and love. Yes love. Love is still present, but we’ve got to go through conflict to truly experience it. Our hearts will be tested, right alongside our patience and our faith.

But most of all, our ability to respond to conflict rather than react will be challenged over and over again.

Are YOU ready for Conflict, because it is here? Never mind that it has always been by your side waiting.

Now, it is out in the open. No hiding, no pretense and it is no longer waiting for us to decide whether or not to take it on. It will not be silenced by the turning off of the television set or the tossing out of the newspaper or by ducking social media or your family, your neighbors, your boss or your friends.

It is coming to each and every one of us LIVE.

Are YOU ready for it?


Lessons for Getting Along for the Holidays from Carol Brady

The death of Florence Henderson who played one of America’s favorite TV moms comes at a time when America could use some real motherly advice. Just as we managed to get through Thanksgiving, our beloved Carol Brady took her leave. As the mom of a blended family of six children, Carol Brady dished out plenty of life lessons and as America braces itself for the holiday fall-out from the election of a reality TV star, who better than a TV mom to help us learn to turn holiday fears into holiday cheers.

As the Conflict Closer, I help people resolve conflict one meaningful response at a time. So, allow me to mix up my own holiday cocktail with some Carol Brady wisdom.

1. “No problem was ever solved by crawling in to a hole.”

It’s the holiday season. Why ruin it right? Maybe the Thanksgiving attempts to have serious conversation or make peace caused even more stress and strife and you just aren’t willing to go there again. The truth is that as much as we want to avoid conflict by ignoring it, that does not make it go away. It simply makes it go and grow underground where it festers and feeds off of the next perceived slight or misunderstanding.

A meaningful response: Take it one on one. Let one person know that you want to try to talk about one thing that you two are in conflict about and then set a time, place and time limit and have snacks available. (Alice always had some chocolate chip cookies waiting.)

2. “You shouldn’t put down a loser, Cindy, because you might be one yourself someday. Just remember that.”

This election has taken name-calling to the highest percentile and now that it is over, the word “loser” has become a lethal weapon. Maybe your beef has nothing to do with the election and the word “loser” has been preserved for the one who got in the last nasty word. Whatever the case, Mom Brady is right. We all will walk in the shoes of losing at something. The problem with throwing around that word is that it becomes personalized and we mean it to be. Whether we lose a game, an argument or a campaign, it does not make us personally a loser.

A meaningful response: Acknowledge where you are as a starting point for where the conversation can begin, but don’t make it a personal attack. “Trump won, suck it up loser” or “I was right and you were wrong loser” is not going to open the door to conversation.

3. “Don’t play ball in the house.”

Now, she literally meant, do not play ball in the house, because you could break something, which they did. I am taking liberty with it here and saying don’t throw hardballs at each other. Stay away from name-calling and labeling people whether it be statements like “you are so judgmental” or “you are a racist.” Let what they said take a hit rather than the person and then don’t do it in the house. Take it outside if you can. Go for a walk, try to talk one on one privately if it is getting heated. Express to them that especially now with all of the division in our country, you want to make every effort to listen, understand and get along.

A meaningful response: “I really want to talk about what you just said. Can we sit somewhere or take a walk I really want us to understand what each of us is saying.”

4. “Marcia, Marcia, Marcia.”

Truth be told this is not a Carol Brady quote. It is Jan Brady’s famous line and my favorite Brady Bunch quote. But even though she didn’t say it, it still applies. When it comes to family, there are often favorites and perceived favorites or “the perfect sibling” or the “loser sibling”. Both are labels that make it hard to get along or to change if the label is attached to you. Jan got tired of hearing about the perfect Marcia. You may be tired of hearing about your “Marcia” or you may be the accused “Marcia.” When conflict happens this type of labeling often adds fuel to the fire. So, do your best not to go there.

A meaningful response: Stick to what the conflict is about but also recognize that the labels may likely be fueling it. Separate the issues from the feelings of resentment for now and offer to meet another time to talk about the underlying resentment.

5. If You Have “Unfriended” a Loved One and Want to Make Amends, Own it and Apologize. This one is all mine. Enough said.

I saw in Carol Brady a woman who did her best to communicate something I believe in strongly, relationships are the foundation upon which we build our lives. They can be fragile, because it takes a lot of work to make them strong enough to support us.

That Mrs. Brady was a lovely lady.


Is Name-Calling Becoming Our New National Pastime and Adding to Existing Conflicts?

The divide in our country is showing itself to be a lot deeper than our political affiliations. Certainly, the election has proven to illuminate and heighten our differences, but even in a country where being different has never been met with genuine curiosity and a search for how it might strengthen us, what we are seeing today calls for some serious examination.

We have the election sprouting names like deplorables, rapists, idiots, terrorists, crooked, demagogues, low class and other choice words too numerous to mention. Social media is alive with names like thugs, terrorists, pigs, anarchists, spoiled brats, trailer-trash, the n-word, the c-word being hurled at police officers, Black Lives Matter, Colin Kaepernick, those who oppose Colin Kaepernick, women activists, Native Americans and almost anyone who is in conflict with each other these days. Everyday life in the U.S. has become reality T.V. on steroids.
Name-calling has always been a long standing part of our history, but since its elevation to commodity status, it has been deeply embedded in our culture and is now relished and accepted as a part of the “dialogue.” It is readily accepted by adults and as a result our young people to “throw shade “ on someone, because they did it to you. It is now fair game to call someone a name if they say something that opposes our point of view. I have even found myself struggling with this mostly in the solicitude of my car. More than once I have questioned myself about why someone is an “idiot” because they did something I did not like or agree with on the road.

It is easy to get caught up in this new national pastime if we are not conscious and constantly tuning in to ourselves. It is so accepted that it has infiltrated all of our institutions posing as constructive criticism. I remember informing one of my son’s elementary school teachers and the assistant principal that writing in a report that my son is lazy in math does not inform any of us about what needs to be corrected. It is simply name-calling. Is he not getting to work on the task right away? Is he giving up and refusing to try when it gets tough? Both of those things can be addressed. When the corrected report included specifics, but still contained the word lazy, I pushed back to say that word was unnecessary and added nothing to the new information describing what he needed to improve. Blank stares. My experience from telling this story numerous times is that it is so endemic that most people don’t get it.

Let me provide 3 ways that we can check ourselves when we see that we are headed in that direction:

  • Tune in to your emotions when conflict arises. Name-calling is often a result of some kind of emotion being evoked.
  • Honor the feeling, name it, feel it and then allow it to pass and then allow for the possibility that just like you the other person is allowed to make mistakes or think differently without being subject to name-calling.
  • Be open to listening to people who disagree with you and consider that their perspective and yours is colored by all the experiences and people that have shaped our lives.

According to an article in USA Today, tennis player legend, Billie Jean King said of Colin Kaepernick’s peaceful protest, “You don’t have to agree with his actions to have a good conversation about it.” Make no mistake, this is hard work, particularly in a country that is good at “throwing shade” at those who oppose, annoy and push back against our comfort zones, but allowing name-calling and cursing to redefine conversation will continue to take us down a long dark rode that will be difficult to see our way back from.

For more on this topic, visit my article on Psychology Today.