Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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I posted something on my political blog about two competing ballot propositions before California voters this November. Both aim to improve the state’s financial condition and raise money for education, but each attacks the problem in a somewhat different way. One is sponsored by the governor and the other by a private organization. Polling has indicated majority support for the governor’s proposition, but now there may be a real danger that both propositions go down to defeat. Why? Because the competition between the two measures has sparked negative messages by each side against the other. As soon as we have two ideas before us on how to fix a problem, we naturally start comparing them to decide which one we […]

I had a chance a while back to attemd a training session with Gary Friedman, a mediator in Northern Calilfornia, who is known as one of the foremost practitioners of joint session mediation. In fact, Friedman insists on conducting mediations start to finish with all parties in the same room. He will not even read mediation briefs marked as confidential, and he refuses to hold any information discussed with him during a mediation in confidence with respect to the other parties. If the parties to a mediation run by Friedman want to hold a private caucus, Friedman allows that, but they have to do that without without the mediator present. Since I am also a believer in joint sessions, I […]

However shaky the European Union is today, whatever its deficiencies, it still deserved the Nobel Peace Prize, for its contributions to peace over decades. As Thorbjorn Jagland, the former Norwegian prime minister stated in announcing the award:  “The stabilizing part played by the E.U. has helped to transform most of Europe from a continent of war to a continent of peace.” In my house, where my kids are studying the arguments over ratification of the U.S. Constitution in their government class, I remind them how lucky we are to have decided more than 200 years ago to adopt a strong federal government. The Europeans, by contrast, are still having that debate today. And to a lesser extent, we are still having it too, though […]