Ominous, right? As spooky as it may sound—I really wouldn’t worry about it too much. The way I see it, conflict is not something to fear, but is an amazing cultural opportunity. If you think about it, conflict has been an important and necessary part of human civilization for a few thousand years. Without it, innovation would have stagnated, social and political structures may not have emerged—even the concept of collaboration may never have materialized. In the 21st Century, as governments and individuals become more interconnected, and as businesses transition away from traditional, functional organizations toward broader, matrix type structures, it doesn’t seem likely that conflict will be going away any time soon.
So, if we’re really experiencing, what we in the mediation and negotiation business call, the “golden age of conflict”, it’s more important than ever for each of us to understand what drives conflict, how to engage it constructively, and how to utilize it as a tool for better social understanding. That’s where I come in. I’m a mediator, negotiator and dispute resolution consultant, and I’m passionate about helping people, businesses and organizations change the conversation from contention to cohesion.
My goal is to assist people in constructively engaging their conflict—helping them narrow their focus, make sense of their differences, and better integrate their interests. I practice a facilitative-evaluative form of mediation, and adhere to the four fundamentals of principled negotiation: (1) separate the people from the problem; (2) focus on interests, not positions; (3) invent options for mutual gain; and (4) insist on objective criteria. In other words, though I do not provide legal advice, make decisions, or instruct people on what to do, if I can see that positions will lead to bad agreements, opinions or viewpoints are not being fully explored, or that the threat of future litigation is not completely mitigated, I have a duty to the process of mediation, to the integrity of the resolution, and to my clients, to point it out—all within a safe, comfortable and collaborative environment where people can create solutions that lead to strong, long lasting agreements.
When I’m not working one-on-one in mediation, I’m busy consulting with business and civic organizations, presenting keynotes on conflict resolution, publishing articles, and sharing useful information and insights through social media. I invite you to join me as an advocate for improved social dialog by following my social media channels, sharing information with friends, family and colleagues, and by participating in the discussion through comments, feedback and sharing your own experiences. Welcome to the golden age of conflict!