Conflict Resolution

Advanced Problem-Solving Strategies

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File this post under the heading of interesting experiments in psychology, this one conducted by that noted Psychology Professor Jimmy Kimmel. Kimmel’s team proves that if you tell people that two identical things are different, people will find the difference and be able to explain it to you. I’m not sure that I can articulate how this principle applies to mediation, but I am fairly certain that it does.

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 […]

At a mediation seminar I attended this week, Doug Noll, a mediator from Fresno, California, along with Don Philbin, a mediator from Texas, explained that hardly any of the information we process in communication with others is contained in their words. Nearly all of it lies in people’s gestures, facial expressions, tone of voice, and other non-verbal cues. Lawyers have trouble accepting this fact, trained as we are in the importance of words. And we haven’t grasped its full implications. What was most interesting to me was a technique Noll tried to teach us that demonstrates to another person that they have been heard and understood. Instead of the frequently-taught method of summarizing the gist of what someone has just […]

Even though we may aspire to hold only peaceful intentions, we still have trouble controlling our violent natures. That was proven in last night’s Lakers game against Oklahoma City, a game marred by the shocking act by the recently-minted  Metta World Peace (formerly known as Ron Artest), of sharply elbowing opposing player James Harden in the head. Harden may have suffered serious injury, and World Peace will no doubt be suspended for a period of time. World Peace has a history of aggressive tendencies, but showed a genuine desire to change his nature by changing his name. That may prove a more difficult task than he might have anticipated. First, we’re dealing with human nature, which is not so easy […]

Daniel Kahneman’s book Thinking, Fast and Slow concludes with a discussion of the difference between the experiencing self and the remembering self. It seems logical to Kahneman that people should care more about the quality and quantity of time they are spending engaging in pleasant or unpleasant activities, than they care about how they remember these activities. We should want to enjoy our vacations, rather than worry about the pictures we are taking while on vacation. Picture-taking might even diminish the actual experience, but we are willing to sacrifice some of the quality time spent on vacation in order to create memories. The way that an experience ends also strongly affects our perception of it. Someone told Kahneman that their […]