CNN commentator, Fareed Zakaria, in a recent column , described the political polarization in the USA in terms of the interactional crisis between the parties. He points out that policy differences have been even greater in the past, but currently the conflict is characterized by historically high mutual demonization  He focuses on the idea that the […]

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When discussing different forms of conflict intervention, the various processes are sometimes listed in order of increasing party control.  Here is a typical way of listing the best-known interventions: adjudication binding arbitration non-binding arbitration med-arb arb-med evaluative mediation facilitative mediation negotiation Often adjudication, that is, a judge making a decision, is listed as the approach […]

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In the heat of conflict, we experience diminished access to our sense of inner strength and our awareness of our connection to others.  At these times, we behave destructively, in ways that harm ourselves and those we’re in conflict with.  At our worst moments, we have the urge to lash out at the other side, […]

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Transformative theory describes the phenomenon of conflict escalation (aka interactional degeneration). It acknowledges people’s propensity to fall into a vicious cycle of feeling threatened, losing compassion for each other, and then behaving in ways that perpetuate or worsen those experiences. In that vicious cycle, we behave in ways that are either too aggressive or too […]

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On the internet, where conflict often gets ugly, Wikipedia has achieved something amazing. 80,000 volunteers contribute content to Wikipedia. Often, many volunteers collaborate on a single entry. Somehow, those many volunteers come to a consensus on every word of any article. The inevitable strong disagreements are managed in a way that keeps volunteers engaged and […]

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According to the employee, he’d been ready and able to go back to work for the past 6 months.  What’s more, the medical division had officially cleared him to go back to work 6 months ago. Despite periodic phone calls to his manager and to the medical division, the employee wasn’t told by management that […]

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“Trust the process,” said the mediator. He was leading a divorcing couple through a discussion of the items in their budgets. The husband was saying that he didn’t care what his wife’s cable bill would be – he said it had no impact on the alimony he would pay. The mediator said, “Ok, but just […]

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Good research about mediation techniques has been hard to find. The costs of observing nuanced mediator behavior and subtle client reactions has been prohibitive. And no one has had a sufficient profit motive to sponsor such research. But the State of Maryland has been getting it done. The Administrative Office of the Courts followed over […]

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