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Building Consensus,

and Resolving Conflict at Work







Karl A. Slaikeu, Ph.D.

Diane W. Slaikeu, J.D.

Some of the materials in this handbook are reprinted by permission from:

Slaikeu, K.A.  When Push Comes to Shove: A Practical Guide to Mediating Disputes.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 1996.

Slaikeu, K.A., and Hasson, R.H.  Controlling the Costs of Conflict: How to Design a System for Your Organization.  San Francisco: Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers, 1998.

Slaikeu, K.A., Slaikeu, D.W., and Hasson, R.H.  CHORDA Collaboration Skills.  Austin, Texas: CHORDA Conflict Management, Inc., 2006.

No part of the materials protected by this copyright notice may be reproduced or utilized in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without written permission from the copyright owner.

© 2020 Karl A. Slaikeu and Diane W. Slaikeu.  All rights reserved.

For additional copies, write or call:

Karl A. Slaikeu

Preferred Path Conflict Resolution

c/o Blue Lion Conflict Solutions, LLC

4301 West William Cannon Dr.

Suite 150 B

Austin, TX 78749

Telephone: (512) 482-0356

Fax: (800) 498-3106





Who, Why, and What?





At Home

Other Circumstances



Step 1: Prepare

Step 1 Goals

Step 1 Examples

Step 1 Meditations

Step 1 Tools

Step 1 Questions

Step 1 Checklist

Step 2: Follow the Golden Rule

Step 2 Goals

Step 2 Examples

Step 2 Meditations

Step 2 Tools

Step 2 Questions

Step 2 Checklist

Step 3: Talk/Negotiate

Step 3 Goals

Step 3 Examples

Step 3 Meditations

Step 3 Tools

Step 3 Questions

Step 3 Checklist

Step 4: Seek Facilitation/Mediation

Step 4 Goals

Step 4 Examples

Step 4 Meditations

Step 4 Tools

Step 4 Questions

Step 4 Checklist

Step 5: Refer to Higher Authority

Step 5 Goals

Step 5 Examples

Step 5

Step 5 Tools

Step 5 Questions

Step 5 Checklist

Step 6: Take Other Action

Step 6 Goals

Step 6 Meditations

Step 6 Tools

Step 6 Questions

Step 6 Checklist


Blue Lion Debrief Tool1 (Short Form)

Step 1: Plan

Step 2: Guide the Discussion

Step 3: Share Results

Blue Lion Debrief Tool1 (Long Form)

Step 1: Plan

Step 2: Guide the Discussion

Step 3: Share Results

Clauses and Covenants

Collaboration Steps

Communication Skills


Conflict Grid


·      To avoid risk

·      To have greater responsibility

Standard BATNAs

Conflict Resolution Options

Decision Making: Three Types


Facilitation/Informal Mediation

Grid Case Sample

How to Lead a Meeting

Initiating a Concern/Complaint

Integrative Solutions

Interpersonal Peacemaking

Mediation Rules

Mediation Steps

Negotiation Steps

Step 1:

Open with Recognition and Respect

Step 2:

Define the Collaborative Path

Step 3:

Analyze via the Conflict Grid

Step 4:

Create Integrative Solutions

Step 5:

Close with a Test and Plans for Follow-Up

Ombuds Model



Responding to a Concern


Script – Light Duty

“What’s Wrong with This Picture?”

The MAP Model

Scene: The Warehouse

Script – Commercial Negotiation

What’s Wrong with This Picture?

Script – Performance Evaluation Negotiation

Script – The Problem With This Team


Script – Flying Higher

Informal Mediation

Serenity Prayer

Serenity Prayer Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Serenity Prayer Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

Standard Solutions

The 12 Steps

The Two-Track Model of Attorney Representation



Guiding Principles

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Authors



Whether your goal is to save time, money, or relationships, this handbook offers a road map for achieving more satisfying, less costly, and more durable outcomes when resolving an issue/conflict/dispute at work, at home, and any place where two or more disagree on some important topic.


Even if there is no conflict, you can use the Preferred Path Steps and Tools to achieve a better understanding of another person or group and to strengthen your relationships.


This handbook gives you instant access to information for use as a party (or team lead) or as a third-party facilitator or mediator.


The guidance and tools provided in this handbook grow from decades of vetting by educators and students taking skills training in businesses, courses for academic credit in universities, and even more important, by parties and mediators helping to resolve a wide range of work, family, and community disputes.


This handbook is available in electronic and spiral-bound hard copy versions, each designed to allow you to page quickly to topics of interest, for immediate application to your situation.


Whether you looking for guidance as a first-time user  or a former student seeking refreshers and reminders,  we welcome you to the network and wish you well as you work toward collaborative solutions to the challenges in front of you right now, or on the horizon.


Karl A. Slaikeu, Ph.D.

Diane W. Slaikeu, J.D.

June 2020

Part A:




Who, Why, and What?


This handbook is designed primarily for those who want in the moment reminders and guidance using concepts and tools from Blue Lion skills courses, though it can be used also as a stand-alone reference for all who have an interest in reaching a collaborative solution with another person or group.

Whether your goal is to enhance communication, build consensus on a specific topic, or resolve conflict involving individuals and/or groups, the Preferred Path steps offer a road map for achieving more satisfying, less costly, and more durable outcomes.

The Preferred Path offers collaborative approaches to resolution, before and/or instead of resorting to time consuming, expensive, and often unpredictable higher authority and force options.

Step 1: Prepare

Step 2: Follow the Golden Rule

Step 3: Talk & Listen Collaboratively

Step 4: Request Facilitation/Mediation

Step 5: Refer to Higher Authority

Step 6: Take Other Action


The six Steps on the Preferred Path can be grouped into beginning, middle, and last resort phases.


  • Steps 1 and 2 are the preparation steps, reviewing what you already know and making a plan to collect new information.


  • Steps 3 and 4 are the engagement steps: listening and speaking directly with another person or group, with the option of facilitation or mediation by mutually agreeable third party if that is needed.


  • Steps 5 and 6 are for decisions by higher authorities, and a range of other actions that may be taken if the matter is not resolved through the first five steps.


While you can “loop forward” at any time, experience suggests it’s best to follow the steps in order.




You can follow the Preferred Path on your own, with no cooperation from “the other side.” Or you can use this handbook with other individuals and groups as a shared guide and point of reference.


  1. Start by thinking of the situation, the people, and the challenge before you.


  1. Use a notebook, Word document on your computer, or Notes on your phone to write down the topic and people involved, and your own statement of the challenge.


  1. Read Step 1 and follow the Navigation Tips for that step, making notes to use as a guide in a conversation, negotiation, or mediation event with the other parties.


  1. Note tools as they are mentioned in the text.


  1. As you become more familiar with the steps and tools, mark favorite pages and most useful tools.





The Preferred Path applies to three challenges that we all face at workat home, and in many other situations. You can use the Preferred Path steps and tools to:


  • Communicate: Here you aim to listen well and speak clearly to others, in order to achieve deeper understanding; there may not necessarily be a problem to be solved, but rather an interest in a strengthening relationship.


  • Build Consensus: In this case you have a topic on the table, though parties may hold very different views, and may cite different facts to support their respective positions; unless they achieve some agreement on what to do about a topic that has demanded their attention, they may well suffer lost time, money, or the entire relationship.


  • Resolve Conflict: In this case some past or current event is perceived by one or more others to have caused harm; one or more individuals want justice, peace, and/or healing.




Here are some examples where you might use the Preferred Path steps:




Performance evaluations. Interdepartmental conflicts. Complaints about products and services. Mergers and acquisitions. Cultural differences. Violations of legally protected rights. Strategic planning challenges.


Following the steps of the Preferred Path can help in all of these circumstances. “Unbundling” the issue can lead to outcomes that would be unavailable to you otherwise.



At Home


Are you facing any of the following at home?


  • Couple differences that threaten the relationship.
  • Conflicts between parents and children.
  • Work or school challenges that disrupt family life.


Following the steps on the Preferred Path can lead to positive outcomes in each of these circumstances.


Other Circumstances


Besides work and family, where else might you face conflict, or have a need to reach agreement with someone? Resolving a personal injury dispute? Professional liability? Conflict in your neighborhood? Homeowners’ Association? Construction dispute?


Following the Preferred Path can save you time, money, and emotional wear and tear in all these circumstances.


Remember that you can follow the steps of the Preferred Path unilaterally, without cooperation of anyone else.  Or use them with others as a common point of reference.


While you can “loop forward” at any time, experience suggests it’s best to follow the steps in order.


Start with Step 1: Prepare to evaluate your situation, identify key interests, and expose information gaps you’ll need to address in order to get a good outcome.



NOTE: The model presented here is not intended to substitute for legal advice and/or representation. Consult an attorney on any topic that involves a legally protected right.






Part B:

A Closer Look at the Preferred Path Steps



Step 1: Prepare


Step 2: Follow the Golden Rule


Step 3: Talk/Negotiate


Step 4: Seek Facilitation/Mediation


Step 5: Refer to Higher Authority


Step 6: Take Other Action



B – 1


Step 1: Prepare



“Begin with the end in mind” captures the essence of Step 1. If you are entering a communication or dialogue event, what do you hope to learn? If this is a conflict, what sort of outcome do you seek? An apology? Restitution or punishment? Corrective action?


In each of these circumstances you can help your cause if you take a few moments to note what you already know about the situation, and what information you hope to gather along the way.


Looking ahead, two tools from the Blue Lion Toolkit can help with Step 1:


  • The Conflict Grid questions used for preparation by professional mediators can help any party prepare for collaborative resolution.


  • In conflict situations, the Standard Solutions list helps identify what you and/or the other side might need in order to achieve peace, justice or healing.


See the following pages for additional information on Step 1.




Step 1 Goals


The goal in Step 1: Prepare  is to summarize (1) the knowledge you already possess and (2) the new information you will need to gather in order to either resolve the conflict, or to reach agreement with one or more people on some important issue.


Taking a tip from professional negotiators and mediators, ask yourself: “What do I know so far about the situation, including my own interests and those of others, and what information do I need to resolve this matter?”


Here are questions, based on the Conflict Grid tool that can help you prepare for all the remaining steps on the Preferred Path:


  1. What is the topic we are dealing with? Write it down.


  1. What parties are (a) directly involved in this situation, and who might be (b) indirectly affected by whatever outcome we reach? The first category is usually quite easy, though people often get tripped up on the second. Think of the latter as individuals who, if their interests are honored, can help you move forward, and if they are not, might derail your efforts.
  1. For each party, what do I know so far about this person’s:


  1. Key interests (matters of the heart)?


  1. Facts that he or she will likely bring to the table (a window into how this person views the situation)?
  2. Best alternative to a negotiated agreement (or BATNA, which means what this person will likely do if a collaborative resolution is not reached)?


  1. Possible solutions (or preferred solutions from this person’s point of view)?


  1. If there has been some perceived wrong done in the past, might one of the Standard Solutions be needed? Who might deliver what, to whom?


  1. Acknowledgement/Apology/Repentance?
  2. Restitution?
  3. Plan for the Future/Preparation?
  4. Forgiveness?


  1. Looking at the list above, what information is missing? How can I (or we) learn more (e.g., direct conversation with whom, etc.)?

Step 1 Examples


Here is an example of a quick Step 1: Prepare.


Imagine you are heading to work one morning, thinking about an upcoming confrontation with your boss. She is concerned about a vendor who has complained about a “breach of our contract.” Your mental process (perhaps aided by a few written notes, assuming you are not driving a car), might go like this:


  • Topic? It’s the “breach of contract” accusation; what will we do about that?


  • Parties? Picturing columns on a mental grid, the parties list might include: you (representing company, accused of wrongdoing, apparently), your boss, and the vendor.


  • Grid data: Okay, maybe she [vendor] is thinking about the delayed delivery of the product. But you believe she made changes that caused the delay. Tuck this item into her “Other Facts” boxes on your [mental or written] grid.


Continue thinking through what you already know, and sort it into grid categories. At your first available opportunity, make grid notes, with ample use of question marks (?) to show areas where you’ll need to inquire more.


For an example of a longer version of preparation (beyond reflections while commuting to work), see the Grid Case Sample in the Tools.





Step 1 Meditations


Some form of meditation or other self-regulating technique can heighten awareness and bring focus to everything you do and say at each Step on the Preferred Path. Try integrating the tips below with a practice you may already be familiar with (e.g., religious meditation).


Note: This meditation can be used alone, or with a friend who reads the instructions.


Meditation for Step 1: Prepare


  1. Make yourself as physically comfortable as possible, turning off external distractions (electronics, etc.).


  1. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, five counts slowly in and five counts slowly out; relax your muscles.


  1. Imagine the situation, and the people.


  1. Notice any feelings of fear, tension, or hope.


  1. As needed, focus again on breathing deeply.


  1. Using the Conflict Grid as a prompt, start with one party; think/imagine what his/her interests might be on the matter at hand. Do same with Other Facts, BATNA and his/her Possible Solutions.


  1. Do this for each party.


  1. Imagine an integrative solution that might work for all.


  1. Slowly open your eyes.


  1. Write notes on what you discovered, especially questions you may need answered.


  1. Use the notes to guide your listening and inquiring in upcoming events.


Definition: “Meditation refers to a family of self-regulation practices that focus on training attention and awareness in order to bring mental processes under greater voluntary control and thereby foster general mental well-being and development and/or specific capacities such as calm, clarity, and concentration.” Roger Walsh & Shauna L. Shapiro (2006). “The meeting of meditative disciplines and western psychology: A mutually enriching dialogue.” American Psychologist (American Psychological Association) 61 (3): 227–239.


Step 1 Tools


Consider the following tools as a resource for Step 1: Prepare:


Step 1 Questions


  1. How can I prepare if I have no idea what the other person wants in this situation?


By asking the preparation questions under Goals, you heighten your awareness of what you know and what you may not know. This prepares you to test your perceptions against what you hear from the other person when you have a conversation later.


  1. Doesn’t this run the risk that I enter future conversations with a bias toward what I have already prepared?


Yes, but it’s a good tradeoff (risk of bias vs. reward of being tuned in and alert). Knowing this is a risk can equip you to be even more vigilant in checking your bias. Try this: for everything you think you know, force yourself to listen for (and invite) other views when you get to Steps 3 and 4.



Step 1 Checklist


Are you ready to move to Step 2 in the Preferred Path? Consider the following on your Step 1 checklist:


o 1. Am I aware that there is a Preferred Path that I can follow on this matter, i.e., I have choices, from early conversations (facilitated in Step 4, if necessary) to higher authority as backup?





Have I considered who else might be involved (i.e., the Grid columns)?






Have I asked the key Grid questions for each party?



B – 2


Step 2: Follow the Golden Rule



Found in many cultures, the Golden Rule reminds us to “Treat others as you would like to be treated,” and “Don’t do to others things you would not like to have done to you.”


We feature it in Step 2 to help you increase the likelihood that you will achieve your goals as you move through the remaining steps on the Preferred Path.


Here are some suggestions for applying the Golden Rule in a conflict situation:


  • Demonstrate respectful language and timeliness in the exchange of information.


  • If in doubt, imagine yourself in the other’s shoes and, from that perspective, decide how you would like to be treated.


  • Monitor especially your comments to third parties; if your opponent were to overhear you, what would he/she conclude?


  • Eliminate sending email or other electronic negative statements about the other party; instead, write down your thoughts and use them in the steps ahead on the Preferred Path.


Step 2 is a health check on your attitude as you move to conversations in Steps 3 and 4.


See the following pages for additional information on Step 2.



Step 2 Goals


There are two central goals in Step 2: Practice the Golden Rule on the Preferred Path:


  • For You: The goal is to bring out the best in you, especially when under attack.  You do this by taking a concrete action that runs counter to simply reacting to the other’s negative behavior.  It’s as if to say, “I will exercise my right to treat you well, even if you treat me badly.”


  • For both you and the Other Person: Offering civility (courtesy, understanding, respect) may lay the groundwork for constructive exploration and change on all sides.

Step 2 Examples


Here are a few examples of the Golden Rule in practice, alongside the opposite behavior:


  1. Knowing that an upcoming discussion and decision by the school board will directly affect families of children with physical disabilities, board members decide to reach out by phone to several families, alerting them to the upcoming meeting. (Opposite: “We’re busy. If they [affected families] care enough, they will find out about the meeting on their own”).


  1. An attorney arranges seating in her office so the height of chairs is relatively similar, to give each person equal status in conversations. (Opposite: another attorney seats opposing counsel in a chair that is smaller and lower in height than hers.)


  1. Concerned about the board’s poor track record in enforcing rules about garbage cans left in the street, a homeowner decides to speak directly with the chairman of the board. (Opposite: homeowner gossips to neighbors.)


Step 2 Meditations


To cultivate a sense of the Golden Rule in practice, try the meditation below. It is the same as for Step 1, except that Numbers 7-10 are new.


Note: All meditation suggestions can be undertaken alone, or with a friend who reads the instructions.


Meditation for Step 2:


  1. Make yourself as physically comfortable as possible, turning off external distractions (electronics, etc.).


  1. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, five counts slowly in and five counts out; relax your muscles.


  1. Imagine the situation, and the people.


  1. Notice any feelings of fear, tension, or hope.


  1. As needed, focus again on breathing deeply.


  1. Using Grid columns as a guide, picture each party.


  1. Repeat the Golden Rule in language that fits your personal values: e.g., “I will treat [him/her] the way I would like [him/her] to treat me.”


  1. Specifically, I will refrain from [spreading gossip, lies, etc.].


  1. Specifically, I will [seek to understand his/her interests and honor them if I can, and if not, state clearly my case about why not].


  1. End with a positive thought about the process you are using [Preferred Path].


Step 2 Tools


The following tools are useful for Step 2: Golden Rule:


  • The Conflict Grid  (See particularly the section on “interests” and “other facts.” What interests of your opponent might you honor with actions that demonstrate the Golden Rule?)
  • Interpersonal Peacemaking


Step 2 Questions


  1. Are you kidding me? It’s unrealistic to do a “Golden Rule” in today’s business environment. “Dog eat dog” makes more sense.


It’s a matter of choice. An equally strong business mandate is, “

Watch what you do, because it may come back to bite you!” Read on.


  1. So how does this help me and my side? (I know it may be good for the other guys.)


At a minimum, when all is said and done, you will have taken the ‘high road.’ If the deal doesn’t go your way, you’ll walk away with satisfaction it wasn’t your negative attitude and behavior that killed it.


Your Golden Rule behavior just might lead to a concession coming your way. It happens.


Finally, you are being watched throughout this entire process. Maybe by your own children, a subordinate, someone on the other side’s team. How you treat people now makes an impression that will influence what comes your way in the future.



Step 2 Checklist


Here is a checklist for applying the Golden Rule to your particular circumstances:


o 1. Have I thought through the benefits and risks of following the Golden Rule on this matter?





Have I identified things I can say, do, or think that reflect my applying the Golden Rule to specific individuals?







Have I committed to taking these Steps no matter what the other side does?




B – 3


Step 3: Talk/Negotiate



Step 3 is the main event on the Preferred Path.  Here you will communicate your thoughts and concerns, listen to the views of others, and work to create a solution acceptable to all. Does this sound like too tall an order to fill? It may be, in which case you can ask a mediator or facilitator to help (Step 4).


For an in the moment guide for dealing with difficult conversations, check tips on using the Blue Lion MAP Model to Initiate a Concern and Respond to a Concern expressed by someone else.



See also these additional tools: Communication for tips on listening and speaking, and Conflict Grid for Consensus Building.


See the following pages for additional information on Step 3.




Step 3 Goals


The goal in Step 3 is to communicate in a way that leads to better understanding, and if needed, to create a solution that all parties can support. You can use the Conflict Grid as a guide for conversation in this step.


Communicating. If your goal is to understand another person, think of this step as listening to and sharing data from each person’s column on the Grid (interests, facts important to each person, solutions he/she prefers).


Consensus Building. Here your aim is to create a mutually agreeable integrative solution. Some people call this a “win/win” since it addresses concerns of each person.


Conflict Resolution. If the goal is to resolve some perceived wrong, you may need to address complaints and grievances by breaking the topic into component parts. This might include liability, damages, and solutions.


  • Liability. You will address the question: “What do we each believe about who did what to whom, and who is responsible for what?”


For example, a vendor may believe that late delivery was caused by numerous last-minute changes from the customer. The customer may believe that the delay was caused by the vendor giving lower priority to the customer’s “small job” as compared with other larger orders.


In a Step 3 conversation you aim to exchange information on the events and differing perceptions of what caused the current situation.


  • Damages: Who has been harmed and in what way?


For example, if a water leak was not discovered soon enough, and it led to a “slip and fall,” then the damages might involve medical expenses, lost wages and other dimensions.


You may use the Negotiation Steps tool to capture various views of liability and damages on the way toward reaching agreement on remedies.


  • Standard Solutions, as perceived by each party. Here the goal is to create solutions that address the four categories noted in the footnote of the Conflict Grid: acknowledgement/ apology/repentance; restitution (money paid for wrong done, as an example); plans for the future (corrective action); and forgiveness.


  • Integrative Solution. On the way toward a mutually agreeable integrative solution, ask yourself: What actions can we take that will pass a three-part test:


o   The actions honor (or at least do not violate) the most important interests of the parties.


o   They square with available facts (e.g., perceptions of liability and damages).



o   They are better than the parties’ fallback solutions (also known as BATNAs or “Best Alternative to a Negotiated Agreement”).


Remember that it is not necessary to cover all of these dimensions in one meeting.


Step 3 Examples


Step 3 conversations are all about speaking, listening (actively), and negotiating. See Scripts for sample conversations illustrating Communication and Negotiation skills in practice.


Step 3 Meditations


Below is a sample meditation to use before entering an important communication/negotiation event.


Reminder: All meditation suggestions can be undertaken alone, or with a friend who reads the instructions.


Meditation for Step 3 Communicate/Negotiate


  1. Make yourself as physically comfortable as possible, turning off external distractions (electronics, etc.).


  1. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, five breaths slowly in and five breaths out; relax your muscles.


  1. Imagine the situation, and the people.


  1. Notice any feelings of fear, tension, or hope.


  1. Focus again on breathing deeply.


  1. Imagine your opening words, breathing deeply in and out as you do.


  1. Imagine the other person speaking, and you using active listening to clarify and hear the message.



  1. Imagine yourself speaking your part, clearly, succinctly.


  1. Picture this going very well.


  1. Notice any tension; counter it with deep breathing, in and out slowly.


  1. End with a positive thought about the process you are using [Preferred Path].


  1. Make notes for use in the next step.



Step 3 Tools


The following tools are especially useful for Step 3 Collaborative Talk:



Step 3 Questions


  1. I am afraid about starting a conversation with this person. What if I say the wrong thing?


Consider reviewing the Initiating a Concern/Complaint tool. It offers ways to begin the conversation. Consider also seeking consultation from another person before you initiate the conversation.


  1. I am afraid I will be verbally attacked by the other person. How do I keep from getting defensive?


Attacks and counterattacks are the order of the day in collaborative talk that has derailed.  There is a way, however, to extract yourself from a downward spiral of attack, defense, and counterattack. If attacked, ask “How so?”  or “What have I done to make you say that?”  [e.g., that you are selfish/manipulative/authoritarian, or other pejorative label thrown at you].  The aim of the “How so?” question is, first of all, to get yourself off the hot seat.  Asking a question (instead of making a counter-attack statement) shifts the burden to the other person to provide more detail. It also keeps you from speaking prematurely (without thinking further about what you want to say). Equally important, this strategy gives you more information about behavior that has led the person to make the initial negative statement. You can then use active listening and other Communication Skills to transform the attack into information that may allow you to be even more precise in any proposal aimed at resolution.




Step 3 Checklist


Consider the following checklist as you proceed through Step 3 conversations:


o 1. Beforehand, have I reviewed the Initiating a Concern and Responding to a Concern tools?





Do I understand the goals for consensus building and conflict resolution in this step, namely, creating and agreeing on action steps that can receive the support of the parties, even if they have different interests or views on this matter?






In dealing with a grievance or perceived wrongdoing from the past, have we identified:






Precipitating event for this conversation?






Our perceptions of fault? Damages?






Past intentions, including regrets about what we wish had happened?






Standard Solutions?






Integrative Solutions, including plans for follow-up?






If for some reason this conversation derails, have we made provision for initiating mediation, or some other impasse resolution option?

















B – 4


Step 4: Seek Facilitation/Mediation



If Step 3 conversations fail, or if you are afraid of even being in the room with an adversary, then help from a facilitator or mediator might be the treatment of choice. But how can a facilitator (informal help) or mediator (formal help) make a difference, especially if the parties have already tried to reach agreement and have failed?


The answer from the front lines is two-fold. First, in confidential private meetings (sometimes called caucuses) parties often reveal key interests, facts and matters of the heart to mediators that they are reluctant to reveal to opponents or adversaries. Due to this feature alone, mediators often have a richer data set from which to help fashion a solution that the parties themselves do.


Second, a mediator can serve as a buffer as he/she creates a fair and civil process for discussion and negotiation. Remember, the mediator will not make a decision for the parties, but may offer creative ideas, and help reframe the discussion away from positional bargaining toward creative problem solving or resolution.


Bottom line: A mediator can help lift the level of discourse from avoidance and positional bargaining to one of collaborative problem solving, and in some cases, healing.


Check the Interpersonal Peacemaking tool for a model that has been used successfully by others in setting an agenda that allows exploration and customization of the four Standard Solutions to address unique circumstances.


See the following pages for additional information on Step 4.



Step 4 Goals


The goals for Step 4 facilitated conversations are:


  • For the third party to help the parties communicate well (share information, hear one another), and if needed, achieve an integrative solution (same as Step 3).


  • To do so in a way that reserves the right of each party to freely accept or reject solutions and to participate in fashioning the “best next step” given the circumstances.


  • To use a combination of joint and private meetings in this effort.



Step 4 Examples


See Scripts for sample mediations involving workplace topics, including one where a manager uses informal mediation to help two team members resolve a conflict over unmet deadlines and requirements in a marketing project (“Flying Higher”).



Step 4 Meditations


Meditations in preparation for a Step 4 event are the same as for Step 3. In preparation for a mediation event, consider the following exercise.


Reminder: All meditation suggestions can be undertaken alone, or with a friend who reads the instructions.


Meditation in Preparation for Step 4 Facilitation/ Mediation


  1. Make yourself as physically comfortable as possible, turning off external distractions (electronics, etc.).


  1. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, five breaths slowly in and five breaths out; relax your muscles.


  1. Imagine the situation, and the people.


  1. Notice any feelings of fear, tension, or hope.


  1. As needed, focus again on breathing deeply.


  1. Imagine facilitator/mediator’s opening words, breathing deeply in and out as you do.


  1. Imagine the others speaking, and you listening respectfully.


  1. Imagine you speaking your part, clearly, succinctly.


  1. Picture this going very well. Notice any snags.


  1. End with a positive thought about the process you are using [Preferred Path].


  1. Make notes for use in the next step.




Step 4 Tools


Consider the following tools for Step 4 facilitated or mediated conversations:


Step 4 Questions


  1. Why use mediation at all, especially if Step 3 negotiations have already failed?


Mediators can serve as buffers, bringing objectivity that parties may not possess. Also, their toolkit involves private meetings which the parties, by definition, cannot do. Read on.


  1. What is the role of private meetings in facilitated or mediated sessions?


The experience of professional mediators is that if all conversations take place in joint meetings, there may be reluctance by one party or another to reveal some information for fear of having an opponent use it against the disclosing party. Discussion in private meetings gives the mediator an opportunity to explore how to deal with sensitive topics. Where threats of violence are present, private meetings allow the mediator to structure a process that protects the parties.


  1. Are there situations where mediation is not appropriate?


There are two circumstances when mediation is not the treatment of choice.  First, if the parties need policy affirmed by a higher authority, or case law made in the courts, then the matter should be taken to a higher authority for a decision (Step 5 on the Preferred Path).


Second, if the parties want a public forum to “send a message to others” then mediation will be ineffective, since mediation sessions are private and confidential, and there is no public statement unless both parties agree to it. For all other circumstances, mediation is the logical next step if Step 3 negotiations have failed.


Step 4 Checklist


Here is a checklist for Step 4:


o 1. Do I know how Step 4 might help me?





Have I discussed the option of a facilitated conversation with the other person?






Do I know facilitators and mediators who would be acceptable to me and to the other person?








B – 5


Step 5: Refer to Higher Authority



When parties cannot agree on what to do to resolve a conflict, each person has two other options:


  • Refer the matter to others to decide (Step 5); or,


  • Take unilateral action (one-sided, without consent or cooperation from the opponents or higher authorities) to deal with the situation (Step 6).


The defining characteristic of Step 5 higher authority is that the parties give control of the decision to a group (e.g., a vote where the majority prevails) or another person (e.g., a judge or boss).  The plus in this approach is that it results in a final decision. The minus is that the minority may not be willing to accept the outcome, which is why the Preferred Path positions Step 5 Higher Authority in a backup position, after the collaborative options (Steps 3 and 4), which are better for dealing with concerns of both majority and minority.


See the following pages for additional information on Step 5.





Step 5 Goals


Higher Authority is the primary win/lose option on the Preferred Path: the parties argue the matter and then a judge or other person decides, or a vote gives the victory to the “ayes.”


The goals for higher authority interventions vary depending upon one key circumstance: are the parties cooperating in taking the matter to higher authority (joint decision to do so), or is one party initiating the higher authority intervention, without the consent of the other parties (such as filing a lawsuit or a grievance, or requesting an investigation)?


When both parties agree that they wish to take the matter to higher authority for a decision, standard goals include the following:


  1. To bring the matter to a conclusion (end the dispute).


  1. To benefit from the wisdom of another person in making the final decision or defer to a person or group charged with making or interpreting policy.


  1. To set a precedent for future cases (which occurs if the higher authority decision is made public, as in court decisions and the creation of case law).


When the higher authority action is initiated by one party, without the consent of the other, the standard goals include the above three, plus one or both of the following:


  1. To coerce the other side into performing on one or more of the Standard Solutions (often monetary restitution).


  1. To send a “message” to others who will learn about the dispute when the outcome is made public (as when the finding of a commission or the decision/award of a judge or jury is made public through the media). The message is: “Take note, I am right, and the other side is wrong.”

Step 5 Examples


Every lawsuit, every vote by a group (legislature, board, council), every decision made by “the boss him/herself,” reflects the exercise of higher authority as a way to resolve a conflict.


Here are some examples:


  • In the face of budget shortfall, a school board votes on which afterschool programs to continue and which to terminate.


  • A personal injury attorney files a lawsuit aimed at forcing an insurance company to compensate an employee injured in an industrial accident.


  • When challenged by her daughter about “why,” a parent responds “Because I am the Mom,” reflecting Step 5 Higher Authority in the family.

Step 5


Step 5, where decisions are made by others, requires humility and courage for each party, and, of course, wisdom, discernment, and judgment by the higher authorities who will make decisions.


Meditation in preparation for Step 5 is intended to help you bring a calm attitude to the process.


Reminder: All meditation suggestions can be undertaken alone, or with a friend who reads the instructions.


Meditation in Preparation for Step 5: Higher Authority Event


  1. Make yourself as physically comfortable as possible, turning off external distractions (electronics, etc.).


  1. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, five breaths slowly in and five breaths out; relax your muscles.


  1. Imagine the situation, and the people.


  1. Notice any feelings of fear, tension, or hope.


  1. As needed, focus again on breathing deeply.


  1. Imagine the upcoming proceedings, breathing deeply in and out as you do.


  1. Imagine others speaking, and you listening calmly.


  1. If you are represented by counsel, imagine assisting your attorney or advocate as needed.


  1. When called upon to do so, imagine yourself speaking your part, clearly, succinctly.


  1. Picture this going very well.


  1. Notice any tension. Counter it with deep breathing, in and out slowly.


  1. End with a positive thought about the process you are using [Preferred Path] and make notes for use in the next step.



Step 5 Tools


The following tools are useful for Step 5: Refer to Higher Authorities for decisions:


Step 5 Questions


  1. What are the different types of higher authority resolution?


Employment matters may go to supervisors and, if necessary, continue up the “chain of command.” In volunteer organizations, issues may go to committees for deliberation and vote, and then to the board for decision. Disputes involving legally protected rights may go to the courts.


Most organizations have internal procedures (Human Resources, Compliance, Open Door Policies, and Bylaws) that regulate activity with employees, customers, and outside parties, with clear rules about hearings, decisions and appeals.


Robert’s Rules of Order is an example of rules that any organization can use to smooth the way for groups to deliberate and then vote (the decision of the prevailing group serving as the higher authority).


  1. What are guidelines to follow in referring issues to higher authorities?


  1. Seek legal counsel any time you believe your topic involves a legally protected right; see Two-Track Model of Attorney Representation.


  1. Rely first on authorities within the organization (Open Door Policy, for example).


  1. As a part of mediation (Step 3), consider referring some topics to an arbitrator as you resolve the other issues through negotiation.


Step 5 Checklist


Before beginning any higher authority action, ask yourself these questions:


o 1. Have I exhausted all four previous steps in the process, especially facilitation or mediation?





If informal facilitation has failed, have I explored formal mediation?






Knowing that the best outcome of higher authority is a clarification of policy or case law, a win/lose decision by a person or group, or sending a public message to others, are these the outcomes that I seek? [If the aim is for the other party to comply with some directive, or acknowledge something, then go back to the earlier steps.]






What assurance do I have that the higher authority process will protect the individual legal rights of each of us? (See the Two-Track Model of Attorney Representation).








If I am considering initiating an action that would bring the other side before a higher authority without their prior knowledge or against their will, why am I electing this route? Is there a way to contact the other side to either secure a joint agreement to bring the matter to higher authority, or to go back to mediation?






Am I prepared to accept the final decision, whichever way it goes?






Am I aware of the appeals process for higher authority?






Am I aware that I can “loop back” to collaborative steps, even during or after a higher authority process?











B – 6


Step 6: Take Other Action


If the collaborative methods (Step 3: Negotiation and Step 4: Mediation) and higher authority (Step 5) fail, each party still has other options for dealing with the conflict.


Under the heading of Step 6: Other Action are:


  1. Unilateral exercise of power to force a solution (for example strikes, nonviolent actions, just war).


  1. Individual action, including leaving the scene where the conflict exists (called “take this job and shove it” by country singer, Johnny Paycheck).


  1. Cultivating spiritual serenity in the face of circumstances that you cannot change, perhaps waiting for another day to try again.


See the following pages for additional information on Step 6.



Step 6 Goals


Here is a brief summary of standard goals for Step 6: Take Other Action:


  1. Buy time until circumstances change – If your action is to “take no action,” this might buy time to allow circumstances to change, thereby allowing you to do later what you have been unable to accomplish up until now.


  1. Protect innocent parties – If you divorce an abusing spouse or separate your children from a sexual predator, you protect life and limb of innocent people from the actions of others who could harm them. This applies to actions that involve imprisonment as well as those that involve taking the life of a perpetrator (e.g., Just War or Lutheran pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer attempting to assassinate Adolph Hitler).


  1. Force change in another person or group – Political action may motivate an opponent to change. Civil disobedience that deliberately breaks laws in order to expose inequities is an example of nonviolent “other action” (Step 6) aimed at mobilizing authorities (Step 5) to act.


  1. Inner Peace – If you elect to “take no further action on the matter,” insulate yourself from the problem and/or live with the situation as it is for right now, you may achieve a sense of inner peace based on the fact that you have “done all you can do.” See also Serenity Prayer.

Step 6 Examples


Here are examples of Step 6: Other Actions that require no cooperation from the other side:


  • Make a decision to take “no further action at this time” and review at a later date.


  • Continue to interact in a civil manner with the other side, even if you do not agree (aka “taking the high road”).


  • Leave.


  • Exercise some action to force the other side to deal with the situation in a new way (e.g., civil disobedience).


  • Watch your back; if living with an unresolved conflict, be vigilant in order to protect yourself against harm; note that seeking a restraining order from the court is an example of Step 5: Higher Authority action, and protecting yourself is an example of Step 6.


  • Bide your time and look for opportunities to “loop back” to a prior step, e.g., mediation.



Step 6 Meditations


The challenge in Step 6 is to determine what to do when collaboration and higher authority avenues have failed.


Consider the following meditation in preparation for consultation with others (e.g., counselor, attorney, trusted friend) about what your next step will be.


Reminder: All meditation suggestions can be undertaken alone, or with a friend who reads the instructions.


Meditation in Preparation for Step 6: Other Action


  1. Make yourself as physically comfortable as possible, turning off for a short time all external distractions (electronics, etc.).


  1. Close your eyes and breathe deeply, five breath slowly in and five breaths out; relax your muscles.


  1. Picture the outcome(s), noting gains and losses.


  1. Notice any feelings of regret, resentment, anger, continued fear, fatigue.


  1. As needed, focus again on breathing deeply.


  1. Picture living with the situation that still frustrates you.


  1. Imagine what else you can still do to change the situation.


  1. Make notes to discuss your conclusions and make plans (acceptance, waiting for a time, or something else) with help from a counselor, attorney, or trusted friend.


Step 6 Tools


Consider the following tools for Step 6: Take Other Action:


Step 6 Questions


  1. Why do I need Step 6?


This step honors the idea that even after exhausting Steps 1-5, and with no resolution in sight, you still have options. You can keep going, leave the scene, or you can drop the matter for now. For your own sanity and survival, you may need to change your attitude toward the problem.


  1. How do you “change your attitude” toward the problem?


By turning your thoughts and behavior in another direction. Psychologists call this Cognitive-Behavior Modification. For an example of this principle applied to resentments, see p.  84, paragraph three, of Alcoholics Anonymous, which includes step by step guidance, concluding with suggestion to “resolutely turn our thoughts to someone we can help. Love and tolerance of others is our code. And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone, even alcohol.”


  1. Why include civil disobedience?


Mahatma Gandhi and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. demonstrated the power of nonviolent action to expose wrongdoing, and force change in the law. For large scale social problems that do not respond to the best efforts in Steps 1-5, civil disobedience can be the treatment of choice.


  1. How about physical violence?


Violence can lead to loss of life and adds new problems to any conflict situation (the threat of counterattack, new damages, new grievance).  Nonetheless, some have argued that violence may be appropriate as a last resort to correct an ongoing wrong that continues to harm innocent people. Others argue that violence, even in these extreme circumstances, is never an acceptable solution. As an example of the former view, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian pastor living in Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, concluded that he had no choice but to join a plot to assassinate Adolph Hitler.  For a thoughtful treatise that addresses violence in the context of modern warfare, see J.B. Elshtain, Just War against Terror (New York: Basic Books, 2003).


Step 6 Checklist


Consider the following before exercising options in Step 6:


o 1. Have I exhausted all options through the previous five steps?





Have I applied the spirit of the Serenity Prayer to my circumstances: accepting what I cannot change, changing what I can, and knowing the difference between the two?






Have I sought counsel from others who can bring objectivity to this matter before I exercise Step 6 options?






Am I prepared to live with the consequences of Step 6 actions, just as with the other steps?











Part C:

Blue Lion Toolkit


  1. Blue Lion Debrief Tool (Short Form)
  2. Blue Lion Debrief Tool (Long Form)
  3. Clauses and Covenants
  4. Collaboration Steps
  5. Communication Skills
  6. Conflict Grid
  7. Conflict Resolution Options
  8. Decision Making: Three Types
  9. Definitions
  10. Facilitation/Informal Mediation
  11. Grid Case Sample
  12. How to Lead a Meeting
  13. Initiating a Concern/Complaint
  14. Integrative Solutions
  15. Interpersonal Peacemaking
  16. Mediation Rules
  17. Mediation Steps
  18. Negotiation Steps
  19. Ombuds Model
  20. Readings
  21. Reconciliation
  22. Responding to a Concern
  23. Scripts
  24. Serenity Prayer
  25. Standard Solutions
  26. The 12 Steps
  27. The Two-Track Model of Attorney Representation


C – 1


Blue Lion Debrief Tool1 (Short Form)


What is this tool, and why might we want to use it?


The Blue Lion Debrief (BLD) strengthens working relationships by helping parties share information/views and thereby learn, change, and grow at critical points in organizational life.


What is the goal?


Organizational and individual learning and, if necessary, setting the stage for healing and peacemaking when needed.


When might we use it?


After critical incidents, for example premature resignation of leader, or as a periodic event on calendar (e.g., annual reviews of staff and teams).




1Based on “after action review” methods in organizational learning from:

How long does it take to complete a debrief?


Fifteen minutes to several hours.


Who attends, where do they meet, and what happens?


Attendees are those directly involved in the project or event, meeting in a setting conducive to speaking and listening, following steps that include planning, debriefing, and reporting.


Step 1: Plan


Frame the topic, invite parties, arrange logistics, decide on use of facilitator: (a) No: parties relatively comfortable sharing thoughts and feelings with one another; (b) Yes: difficult topic, many parties.


Step 2: Guide the Discussion


  1. Introduce topic and ground rules (input from all, individual perceptions welcome).


  1. Address Five Questions [about the topic]


  1. Ask, “What was expected to happen?”
  2. Ask, “What actually occurred?”
  3. Ask, “What went well and why?” (Successes)
  4. Ask, “What did not go well?” (Concerns)
  5. Ask, “What can we improve, and how?”


Step 3: Share Results


Ask, “What action items might we deliver to those able to address them?”


Conclude with expression of appreciations and/or improvements in debrief process for use in future.





C – 2


Blue Lion Debrief Tool1 (Long Form)


What is this tool, and why might I want to use it?


The Blue Lion Debrief (BLD) tool is modeled after templates used to help organizations capture lessons learned and make improvements to enhance organizational learning after critical incidents or marker events, such as program evaluation. The Blue Lion version helps parties in organizations “debrief” (talk, discuss, review activities) and thereby learn, change, and grow at critical points in the evolution of organizational life.


What is the goal?


Depending on the circumstances, the goal of a debrief might be:


  • Organizational and individual learning (growth based on joint review of events), or



1Based on “after action review” methods in organizational learning from:


  • Setting the stage for organizational and individual healing and peacemaking (Reconciliation, restoration, or cooperative separation that might follow a debrief event).


The immediate objective in a Blue Lion debrief is for each person to have an opportunity to speak and be heard on the matter at hand (which strengthens teams and other working groups), and for each person to have an opportunity to capture lessons that can be used to improve relationships now and in the future.


When might we use it?


The BLD might be used at any of the following points:


  • After singular critical incidents, for example:


  • After a project is completed (e.g., marketing campaign); Unexpected event in business (e.g., loss of a client, unexpected outcome in professional practice); lawsuit.


  • As a routine event on the calendar for committees and staff:


  • Annual reviews for individual staff members; internal reviews for teams or committees.


  • As a part of ongoing operations for any task force or group delegated responsibility to complete a job.


How long does it take to complete a debrief?


A formal debrief using the outline suggested in this document might take a couple of hours; an informal debrief might take 15-30 minutes.


Who attends, where do they meet, and what happens?


Attendees are those directly involved in the project or event.


This might include:


  • Members of a Team
  • All Members of a Family
  • Others with a Stake in the Outcome


The parties meet in a comfortable space that allows everyone to be seated, see and hear one another, and view (if applicable) flip charts for notes.


A typical debrief includes the following steps that can be followed by the parties themselves, or with a facilitator to guide.


Step 1: Plan


The planning items listed below can be completed by any party (e.g., committee member, team member), and the results of these efforts shared for approval by others at the opening of Step 2.


  1. Any party asks, “What event prompts this debrief?” (e.g., our pastor resigned prematurely, or we have annual review coming up, or we lost/gained many members last year).


  1. “Who might be invited to the debrief?” (Consider those directly involved, decision makers, and constituents, erring on the side of inclusion rather than exclusion, the idea being that the more information and points of view, the better.)


  1. “What physical arrangements do we need?”


  1. Scheduled time on the calendar.


  1. Place to talk where all can be seated, seen, and heard.


  1. Supplies:
  2.          Flip chart and markers
  3.          Debrief template (this document)

iii.         Refreshments


  1. “Do we want to use a facilitator?”


  1. No: informal conversation, where parties believe they can share thoughts and feelings.


  1. Yes: difficult topic, many parties.


  1. “What roles can we assign?”


  1. Note taker?
  2. Timekeeper?
  3. Facilitator?


  1. “Who do I call first?”


  1. Decision maker responsible for project or relationship (e.g., boss, team leader), and if decision is yes, then others listed under No. 3 above.


  1. If facilitator is desired, contact that person to plan.


Facilitator Tips: Consider brief, confidential phone conversations with leader of group and key parties to hear concerns that each might be reluctant to express in the group meeting; use these confidential calls to educate and coach on how to make use of the process, leaving final decision about level of participation to each person.


Step 2: Guide the Discussion


Note: if there is no facilitator, parties can use the following outline as a guide. If a facilitator is engaged, use the same outline, referring to tips for facilitators as needed.


  1. Introduce the topic and ground rules.


  1. State topic (e.g., what can we learn from a recent event, or one year of work together, etc.)


  1. State goal of debrief: for participants to address five questions (below), giving all who wish an opportunity to speak.


  1. Remind all that goal is learning based on experience.


  1. State ground rules, which might include:


  1.          Active participation invited, though no pressure to speak if one wishes to remain silent.
  2.          Take turns talking, aiming to understand message of speaker.

iii.         Each person’s view is important.

  1.          No need to agree on perceptions.
  2.          Refrain from blame.
  3.          “Yes, and” allows building and creating data base for reflection.

vii.         No record of discussion distributed to anyone unless all agree.

viii.         No quotes of individuals.

  1.          Overall, the idea is to “Talk the problem, and write the solution.”


Facilitator Tips: In room arrangement, and in verbal and nonverbal guidance, aim for a welcoming and respectful discussion. Throughout, use open-ended questions and model active listening as parties self-disclose.


Address Five Questions [about the topic]


  1. Ask, “What was expected to happen?”
  2.          What was the original purpose and intent?
  3.          Who was involved?

iii.         What outcomes were intended?


  1. Ask, “What actually occurred?”
  2.          Allow individual and idiosyncratic views.
  3.          No need to agree.

iii.         Events on the table.


Facilitator Tips: Consider giving participants time to reflect and jot personal notes on answers to these questions, before the group begins discussion. Focus on events, and feelings about events, allowing different perceptions of the same events. Acknowledge these with your comments. Reframe general comments by asking, “What happened to lead you to conclude that, or feel that way, etc.”


  1. Ask, “What went well and why?” (Successes)
  2.          State the good that happened.
  3.          Appreciations for specific events, and contributions.

iii.         Note if successes reflect strength in teams, community.

  1.          If time is short, ask for “what’s the best that happened?”


Facilitator Tips: For individuals who are deeply concerned about problems (next question), this question may present a struggle. Note that all will not agree on what was good, and what was not so good.


  1. Ask, “What did not go well?” (Concerns)
  2.          As with successes, invite behavioral language.
  3.          Invite possible explanations for the problems.


Facilitator Tips: Use active listening to put negatives in context of the whole, as in “I’m hearing concerns that go alongside the good parts.” As with successes, summarize what has been said thus far.


  1. Ask, “How can we improve, and how?”
  2.          Brainstorm steps to keep the good going and correct for the not so good.
  3.          Consider referrals for Interpersonal Peacemaking, mediation, training, further evaluation on topics identified in the debrief.

iii.         Who will do what? When?

  1.          Invite statements of the logic behind the suggestion (e.g., I think if we had clearer job expectations, a lot of this [pain] would have been avoided).
  2.          Consider action items for individuals, teams, and task forces.
  3.          Remember the aim to “Talk the problem [done here] and write the solution [going forward].”


Facilitator Tips: Use your knowledge of other Blue Lion tools such as Conflict Grid categories, Integrative Solutions, and the Standard Solution for conflict resolution as a guide for listening, reframing and inviting clarification.


Step 3: Share Results


The main benefit of the debrief may already be felt at this point: people having the opportunity to speak and be heard. A second benefit is action by those able to build on strengths and make corrective action. Accordingly,


  1. Ask, “What action items might we deliver to those able to address them?”


  1. For example, in a personnel annual review, which items apply to my boss and which to me? For a church, which items go to the pastor, which to committees, etc.?


  1. Note taker reads and group discusses and negotiates agreement on “what is transferred to whom.”


Facilitator Tips: Informally mediate any disagreement about reporting. As fallback, offer your assistance in delivering materials.


Conclude by going around the room to give participants an opportunity to express appreciation and/or concerns about the process. If parties desire, offer a follow-up meeting to assess progress.





C – 3


Clauses and Covenants


General Pattern for Clauses and Covenants


Any two or more people—in a family, business, or other organization—can create a verbal or written covenant that includes the Preferred Path for resolution of any issues that might divide them in the future. At the heart of these covenants is an agreement to use collaborative methods first (direct conversation and/or mediation) before higher authority, force, or avoidance.


These covenants address the challenge that occurs when tension and anxiety lead to use of avoidance or force, instead of collaboration. By agreeing ahead of time to a collaborative covenant, the parties grant each other the right to ask for (or trigger) a negotiation or mediation event.


The following are sample Clauses and Covenants that demonstrate Preferred Path language that can be customized to fit unique organizational requirements.


Sample Preferred Path Policy Statement for Business


For resolution of potential disputes [involving our relationships with one another, with customers, and with outside parties] we agree to follow a Preferred Path that begins with collaborative methods and includes, if needed, the option of assistance from a third-party facilitator or mediator. If this does not achieve resolution, we will refer the matter to an internal higher authority, with resolution through governmental agencies and courts as backup. For assistance at any point in navigating the Preferred Path , including convening for mediation, parties may call [convening service, such as the Blue Lion Help Line].


Two-Track Clause for Attorney Representation (with Preferred Path Embedded)


If there are issues, problems, or conflicts regarding any aspect of this agreement, the parties agree to discuss these with one another and reach a mutually agreeable resolution. If despite these efforts, the parties fail to resolve the matter in dispute, upon the request of either party, the matter in dispute will be submitted to a mutually agreeable mediator for resolution, with mediation to begin within 30 days from the request for mediation. Neither party will unreasonably withhold his, her or its consent to the selection of a mediator.


If any party elects to engage an attorney to represent him/her, that party will retain counsel who will represent that party through the process of negotiation or mediation only (“Track 1”), disqualifying him/herself from any subsequent arbitration or litigation in the matter. Each party agrees that his or her representation in subsequent arbitration or litigation, if any, will be provided by another attorney (“Track 2”) who has no role in representing the party in negotiation or mediation (“Track 2”). The use of the foregoing dispute resolution alternatives will not be construed under the doctrines of laches, waiver or estoppel to affect adversely the rights of any party. Nothing in this section should be construed to prevent any party from resorting to judicial proceedings if (a) good faith efforts to resolve the dispute under the negotiation and mediation procedures have been unsuccessful or (b) interim relief from a court is necessary to prevent serious and irreparable injury.



C – 4


Collaboration Steps


See Negotiation Steps (C – 18).



C – 5


Communication Skills



More than one person in conflict has uttered this phrase or a variation on its theme: “What we have here is a failure to communicate!”  The following are Communication Skills that are summarized in When Push Comes to Shove by Karl A. Slaikeu (1996).


Level I Skills


  1. Active listening


  • “Play back” what you hear from the other person.


  1. Questioning


  • Ask for more information, or for clarification.


  1. Self-Disclosing


  • Tell your own view or opinion, often with an “I” statement.


Level II Skills


  1. Reframing


  • Change the wording or language to omit poisonous language, and “frame” the problem in a way that allows you to create solutions.


  1. Brainstorming


  • Without judging the ideas, create as many solutions as possible, after which you can test the merits of each.


  1. Confronting


  • Use a “when, I, because…” model to generate information about behavior and feelings that allows for continuing with the negotiation.


Tips on How to Use Questions, Active Listening, and Self-Disclosing




Explore interests behind positions:

  • How does that help you?
  • What does that do for you?
  • Where does that number come from?
  • What do you need/want?


Invite information if you feel attacked:

  • How so?
  • In what way?
  • What have I [he/she] done to make you think that?
  • What makes [him/her/it] ________?


Expand interests into solutions:

  • What form would that take?
  • What would he be doing?
  • What would that look like?
  • What would help you on that?
  • What would make this better?
  • How would the contract read?


Gather facts:

  • What happened?
  • How did things get to this point?
  • How do you see this?



Active Listening


Clarify underlying interests, facts and solutions:

  • So, you need ________ and ________, right?
  • If I’ve got it right, ________ would help?
  • So as you see it…
  • If I understand you correctly…?


At times, use empathy:

  • That’s terrible…
  • I’m so sorry…
  • How can I help?
  • That must be frustrating…




Offer your views and interests:

  • My concern is…
  • It appears to me…
  • My view is…
  • I am worried about…
  • I’m in a bind…
  • I need this from you…

C – 6


Conflict Grid



The Conflict Grid is a tool that can be used in preparing for a conflict resolution event, whether collaborative talk, mediation, or even a higher authority or force resolution (Steps 3, 4, 5, and 6 respectively).  The Grid encourages data collection on the key dimensions of: who is involved in the conflict (parties and their constituencies), the key questions for each party (four listed on the left of the Grid), and Integrative Solutions (action steps that honor interests, square with the facts, and are better than BATNAs, thereby providing the opportunity to bring the parties together on a common path).


For more on how to use the Grid, see When Push Comes to Shove: A Practical Guide to Mediating Disputes by Karl A. Slaikeu (1996).


Topic: __________________________________


1. 2.


4. 5.


(Hot Buttons)


Other Facts






Possible Solutions


Integrative Solutions*



*Consider Standard Solutions: acknowledgment, apology / repentance; restitution / punishment; plan for the future [corrective action]; and forgiveness.

Grid Definitions


Key parties are individuals who can influence the outcome in a positive direction, or who, if excluded, could interfere with the agreement reached by those who do meet to discuss the problem. Also, identify constituencies, or individuals to whom each party will report to seek approval for various actions.


Interests refer to the underlying needs, desires, hopes, preferences, intentions of each party to the conflict.  Interests refer to “internal” data, since these are typically known best by the individual and only to others by inference, or by self-disclosure of the party.  Note that some interests will only be disclosed in a confidential caucus to a mediator and are unlikely to be disclosed to an adversary in a direct negotiation, hence the importance of mediation backup.


Other facts refer to all external data or observable information.  These might include events that have already occurred, written rules and regulations (laws) that pertain to the problem, as well as recorded or stated accounts of behavioral events (e.g., “When I came to work here, I was given a job to do, though no job description.”) or other objective standards.  Include also individual interpretations of events.


BATNAs: From Fisher and Ury Getting to Yes:  Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In.  Boston:  Houghton Mifflin Company, 1981), the BATNA is a way of describing what each party will do if he/she is unsuccessful in reaching an agreement with the other person(s).  In some cases, this might mean living with the problem as it is, with no action being taken.  In others, it may mean taking the matter to a higher authority (a church body or to the courts), and in extreme cases it may mean a unilateral use of force to resolve the issue.  In the very beginning of collaborative conflict resolution, it is important for each party to understand that there are alternatives to the current discussion, and to know the cost/benefit of “talking it out” as opposed to moving in one of these other directions.


Possible Solutions: What action steps might be taken to honor the interests outlined above, and also square with the other facts?


Integrative Solutions are action steps that honor the interests of two or more parties; these solutions integrate the interests of the parties into one action plan.  The “one-text” is a single summary of the integrative solution resulting from a successful negotiation or mediation.  In mediation, the mediator controls the one-text, inviting critique from each of the parties during the shuttle phase.



Standard Interests, Other Facts, BATNAs, and Solutions


Standard Interests

  • To achieve greater independence
  • To avoid costs (time and money) of litigation
  • To avoid stress/protect health

·               To avoid risk

  • To be made whole
  • To be treated with respect
  • To be vindicated (proven right!)
  • To control the situation
  • To establish precedent
  • To grow (self or business)

·               To have greater responsibility

  • To honor family responsibilities
  • To increase income/profit
  • To be a leader
  • To protect long-term relationships
  • To protect reputation
  • To punish
  • To put the matter to rest
  • To save time
  • To save face
  • To honor values or beliefs


Standard Other Facts

  • Personality differences
  • Cultural differences
  • Legal requirements
  • License requirements
  • Precedents
  • Objective standards
  • Organizational policy and procedures
  • Religions/philosophical beliefs and values
  • Parties’ personal feelings and opinions
  • Parties’ history with one another

Standard BATNAs

  • Do nothing
  • Engage in behind-the scenes political maneuvering
  • File a lawsuit/administrative claim
  • Go forward alone
  • Go to the boss/chain of command
  • Leave situation (quit/resign)
  • Live with things the way they are
  • Pursue other opportunities
  • Strike
  • Mass movement
  • Political action
  • Take business elsewhere
  • Violent action
  • Wage negative publicity campaign


Standard Solutions

  • Acknowledgement, apology, repentance
  • Restitution for past wrongs/punishment
  • Commitment to engage in particular behavior in the future
  • Forgiveness



C – 7


Conflict Resolution Options



The Preferred Path Ministry is based on the premise that there are four main approaches to resolving a conflict with another person:


  • Avoidance: Do nothing about the problem for the time being.  In some cases, the passage of time will lead to a solution.


  • Collaboration: Work with the other side to achieve a solution that both can agree to, including the option of mediation with a third party to assist in this process.


  • Higher Authority: Giving the matter to another person to decide such as a supervisor, a peer review panel, an arbitrator, or judge.


  • Power Plays: Unilateral action taken (violent and nonviolent) to bring about a change in the situation.


One of the difficulties in conflict resolution is that parties often are not aware of their options.


The Preferred Path Ministry orders these options in a stepwise fashion and these are reflected in the six steps of the Preferred Path.



1 2 3 4
Avoidance Collaboration Higher Authority Power Plays

Decision By




Decision By

The Parties


Decision By

Third Party


Decision By


·    Take No Action ·   Individual Initiative

·   Negotiation

·   Mediation

·   Chain of Command

·   Arbitration

·   Litigation

·  Strikes

·  Violence


Note:   Each method may be appropriate depending upon circumstances or political, social, cultural, and religious values.


Choose from all four methods as appropriate.

C – 8


Decision Making: Three Types



Difficulties with decision making can lead to conflict.  It is useful to consider three types of decisions, and variations on these themes:


  1. Executive: One person decides (as in a supervisor or a chair of a committee).


  1. Majority/Minority: The parties vote and the group with the          largest number of votes wins.  Robert’s Rules of Order is an             example of a process that allows for majority/minority decision making.


  1. Consensual: The parties discuss and explore the matter, create solutions, and take no action until they have identified one or more steps that can be agreed to by all parties.


Morale and efficiency increase in the group when there is clarity on the type of decision being made for each topic.  For example, a Session for a Presbyterian church might discuss some matters and agree that they will submit them to a vote for action, though in other matters they may conclude that they should not act until they have achieved a consensus.  On still other matters they may ask the pastor, as moderator of this Session, to make a decision.


It is common also to create hybrid versions of decisions.  For example, a Session considering a major change on a building program, or offering a new adult education program, or different types of worship for members, might collect data from numerous sources, and work to achieve consensus among key groups, reserving for itself, however, the final decision (including a vote) if they are not able to achieve consensus.


C – 9





Arbitration – With a view to resolving a dispute, a third-party individual or panel renders an award or decision, which may be binding or nonbinding, depending upon the process rules.


Avoidance – This refers to doing nothing directly to resolve a problem for the time being, often putting the matter on hold to see if a change of circumstance will lead to a more favorable situation, either the elimination of the problem or a better opportunity to resolve it collaboratively.


Chain of Command – This refers to individuals in the supervisory hierarchy who oversee individuals and groups. Standard procedures for employment conflicts often call for the individual to take unresolved conflicts (with a peer, for example) to direct supervisors and, if not satisfied, up the “chain of command” to others, terminating with the highest administrative body in the organization.


Civil Disobedience – This is a nonviolent strategy for social change associated with the work of Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King, Jr. By disobeying laws, the aim is to force authorities to take actions such as prosecuting and sending to jail large masses of people, thereby exposing problems and ultimately bringing social change, often through new legislation.


Collaboration – This refers to attempts to work cooperatively with the other side to achieve resolution of the problem, even though the parties may differ in their interests or views on important topics, such as liability and damages in a personal injury claim. Collaboration typically involves individual initiative (action taken that honors the interests of both sides), negotiation (talks aimed at mutual resolution), and mediation (assisted negotiation).


Conflict Resolution System – This refers to an integrated set of conflict resolution policies, procedures, protocols, including education and training, documentation, support and evaluation, customized for particular organizational cultures (e.g., a school, a religious organization, a business).


Due Process –This reflects adherence to rules that protect the rights of individual parties in a dispute resolution process, including the calling of witnesses, confidentiality proceedings, and the objectivity/neutrality of investigators.


Facilitation/Mediation – This refers to a third party (mutually agreeable) helping disputants to resolve issues collaboratively. As an assisted negotiation, this can be informal or formal and may be offered by an individual who is inside the organization or from the outside, the main requirement being that the individual is agreeable to all sides.


Force – This refers to unilateral action to solve a problem, without consultation of the other side. Force may be physical or political, violent or nonviolent. An example of the latter would be civil rights demonstrations, and the former would be acts of war. In organizations, gossip, e-mails that speak critically about an individual to others who could influence the opponent’s future are examples of the use of political force.


Higher Authority – This refers to decisions made by individuals who are outside or above (and beyond) the immediate conflict. A supervisor or anyone else in the chain of command can exercise a ruling that “resolves” the conflict, as can an investigating entity (such as a compliance officer), a judge, jury, or arbitrator. Note that managers often wear multiple hats in conflict situations. In some cases they may be a party and in others they may serve as an informal mediator (helping others work out problems), and in still other situations they may be the higher authority who is asked to render a decision.


Individual Initiative – Direct action by one party that aims to achieve the benefits of collaboration by honoring the interests of the other side, without direct communication/negotiation or mediation.  An example might be honoring interests of others in scheduling meetings, providing documents, and other actions that support a cooperative process.


Issue, Problem, Complaint, Charge, Dispute – These are terms that refer to the way conflicts are often experienced by parties. An “issue” may be a euphemism for a severe disagreement or simply a topic that needs to be addressed in light of the fact that there are differing interests from various parties. “Problems, complaints, and charges” reflect varying degrees of concern by one party or another, the latter referring to an accusation that one party has violated a standard of some sort (e.g., nondiscrimination in hiring and promotion). Finally, “disputes” are typically reserved for the full-blown “fights” that can be physical, legal, and/or verbal.


Litigation – Advocates (attorneys) represent the parties and argue the matter before a judge or jury, with the latter ruling for or against plaintiffs/defendants based on the presentation of evidence in light of a particular law or statute.


Negotiation/Direct Talks  Using positive communication and focusing on interests of the other side as well as oneself, this refers to breaking the problem down into component parts (e.g., using Conflict Grid categories) and then creating mutually agreeable solutions.


Ombudsman – Originally a Swedish term, an ombuds or ombudsman/ombudsperson typically functions independent of the chain of command, and offers a confidential, off-the-record opportunity for discussion, taking a neutral stance on the substantive issues, focusing primarily on helping the parties to navigate the current system to achieve resolution. The ombuds may serve as informal mediator, coach or convener, depending upon the circumstances and needs of the parties. Organizational ombuds adhere to a code of ethics such as the one used by the International Ombudsman Association (IOA).


Open Door – This refers to the right of employees to bring complaints and concerns forward to anyone in the chain of command, without retaliation for raising the issue.


Parties to a Conflict – This refers to individuals who may have conflict with one another. Direct parties are immediately involved in the problem, and indirect parties will be affected by the outcome, though may not be involved in communications and negotiations to address the matter.


Preferred Path – As illustrated with organizational cases in the book, Controlling the Costs of Conflict: Designing a System for Your Organization (1998), this term refers to an ordering of Conflict Resolution Options (avoidance, collaboration, etc.) according to organizational polices and values, efficiency, and benefits (savings in time, satisfaction, protection of relationships) for the parties. Standard Preferred Paths focus on collaborative options first (individual initiative, negotiation, mediation), with higher authority as backup and force as a last resort.


Standard Solutions – Borrowed from the book  When Push Comes to Shove (1996), these are solutions that parties often need in order to achieve a collaborative resolution of a conflict: (1) acknowledgement/apology/repentance on the part of one party or another; (2) restitution/punishment to make up for wrong done; (3) corrective action (plan for the future) to prevent occurrences; and (4) forgiveness – let go of past wrongs and focus instead on a new present and future. Customized for particular circumstances, honoring the Standard Solutions has the potential to not only resolve disputes, but also to heal and transform relationships.

C – 10

Facilitation/Informal Mediation



Informal mediation or facilitation borrows from the processes used by professional mediators, though without a signed agreement to mediate. Facilitators often use coaching skills (listening, prompting, guiding, reinforcing) to help parties move through any of the standard Step 3 activities: Communication, Initiating a Complaint, Responding to a Complaint, Interpersonal Peacemaking, or Negotiating.


To distinguish the role from higher authority or other decision maker, a facilitator/informal mediator might introduce guidelines such as the following:


  1. My goal is to help you communicate well, and if you choose, to help you reach agreement on topics you identify.


  1. As a facilitator, I won’t offer opinions on substantive matters, nor will I make a decision for you.


  1. I invite each of you to help as we work toward good communication, understanding, and creative resolution of issues.


  1. You can expect me to honor the confidentiality of these meetings and with rare exceptions (threat of physical harm or court order) will not reveal anything spoken to me privately or in these joint sessions to another person, unless I have your permission to do so.


  1. I encourage each of you to follow the same confidentiality guideline in this process.


  1. Are we in agreement on these general guidelines?


If there has been a past offense or issue raised, then use the Interpersonal Peacemaking checklist as an agenda for informal mediation.


If there is no past offense, though the parties wish to reach agreement on some new project, then follow the Five-Step Negotiation Model modified for this purpose.


Whichever model is used, conclude with a summary of progress made, plans for next steps, and follow-up.

C – 11


Grid Case Sample



Below is a sample Grid Analysis filled out by a supervisor, Anita, as she prepares for a performance review with her supervisee, Robert. See Scripts for a narrative in which Anita integrates this preparation into her talk with Robert.


For other sample Grid cases, see K.A. Slaikeu, When Push Comes to Shove:  A Practical Guide to Mediating Disputes. San Francisco, Jossey-Bass, 1996, Chapter 2 and Resource G, p. 266.


Robert and Anita


Robert recently received a promotion and now supervises several employees and manages files.


Robert’s manager, Anita, is relatively new to the company. In several months, she will provide Robert with his first performance review. Because she has concerns about his performance, Anita has asked to meet with Robert now to provide feedback prior to the formal performance review.


In preparing for this pre-review meeting with Robert, Anita notes two primary problem areas:


  1. Robert has missed project deadlines recently. In addition, the office coordinators have told her that his files are in disarray and that he manages his direct reports poorly.


  1. Robert has recently been taking irregular breaks and long lunches. Although he normally is a pleasant, happy person, he seems worried and distracted lately.


NOTE: The Grid below reflects Anita’s “homework” in preparation for a conversation with Robert. Many points listed here are speculations that will need confirmation or redirection based on what she learns from Robert.





Direct: Anita, Robert


Indirect: Office Coordinators, Office Staff

[not included in the sample below]


Anita Robert
Give Robert a positive performance review. Perform successfully in new position.
Improve productivity and quality of department. Respect.
Protect my reputation as a competent manager. Protect reputation.
Career advancement. Career advancement.



Anita Robert
Relatively new to her position and the company. This will be Robert’s first performance review following his promotion.
Plans to give Robert a poor performance review. He is struggling with how to manage others, as this is his first supervisory position.
Has been told by office coordinators that Robert’s files are in disarray and he manages his direct reports poorly. Has been asked by Anita to meet prior to the performance review.
Has not discussed these issues with Robert. Does not know Anita well and does not know what to expect.
Has noticed that Robert seems worried and distracted.



Give Robert a negative performance review. Do nothing.
Discipline/terminate Robert Quit.
Appeal to the chain of command.



Improved performance from Robert. Training for supervision and office management.
Acknowledgement of unsatisfactory performance by Robert. Acknowledgement from Anita that Robert has not been trained appropriately for his new responsibilities.
Elimination of Robert’s irregular breaks and long lunches. Delay performance review.
Explanation for change in attitude. Weekly meetings with Anita.
Transfer Robert. Quit.
Eliminate Robert. Appeal up chain of command.



Acknowledge that Robert was not properly trained for new responsibilities. Acknowledge that performance has not been satisfactory.
Provide training in supervision and office management. Receive training in supervision and office management; implement new skills and procedures.
Have weekly meetings with Robert to review performance and provide support. Have weekly meetings with Anita.
Delay performance review until Robert can implement new skills and procedures. Eliminate irregular breaks and long lunches.
Assist Robert with the problem that is the cause of the change in attitude.




C – 12


How to Lead a Meeting



Many conflict resolution events will involve meetings ranging from “two or three gathered together” to large town hall type events where individuals attend with a hope of either expressing a grievance or resolving a conflict.  Here are a few general guidelines for increasing the effectiveness of these meetings:


  1. Clarify (organizers and conveners of the meeting) the purpose of the meeting.  Is it to reach a decision, to collect information, to provide an opportunity to “vent,” or something else (see Decision Making: Three Types)?


  1. Consider appointing both (a) a chair who will help people move through the agenda and (b) a facilitator who will make comments from time to time in the service of people hearing and understanding one another.


  1. Distribute the agenda ahead of time.


  1. For each item on the agenda, hear first from the person who is responsible for that item, and then invite discussion where the chair and/or facilitator use Level I Communication Skills (active listening, self-disclosing, questioning) to clarify information and the points of view of various parties.


  1. Use Level II Communication Skills (reframing, brainstorming, confronting) to rework data.


  1. If the parties are not familiar with the Conflict Grid, the facilitator can use the categories from the Grid as a way of separating interests from positions and laying the groundwork for proposals for Integrative Solutions.


  1. Before leaving each item on the agenda, summarize what has happened and what will happen next.


  1. If the matter is to be brought to a vote under Robert’s Rules of Order, consider having someone state the interests that are to be addressed through the proposal on which the group will vote.


  1. If the aim is to achieve a consensus, consider having the facilitator help “float” various Integrative Solutions that have emerged, refining each with comments from the group, until the proposal is in such a form that it can receive the support of the group.


Consider the following standard approaches for dealing with objections that cannot be addressed in the moment:


  • Defer them to others for action.


  • “Park them” in a “parking lot” flipchart to be addressed at a later time (in this meeting or the next).


  • Probe more deeply with the person who is raising the objection (in the moment) and then ask/point this person to support deferring this matter to another time.


  • As a fallback, and after these steps have been tried, use the authority of the chair to move to the next agenda item.


C – 13


Initiating a Concern/Complaint



The MAP Model can be used as a guide for initiating a concern or a complaint.  The model reminds the “initiator” (or complainant) to make good contact with the person who is the recipient of the message, to respectfully articulate the concern (and to ask questions and actively listen for the response from the other person), and then take initiative to propose a solution.


The MAP Model can be summarized as follows:


M – Make contact with the person involved.

A –   Articulate your concern [Ask questions and Actively listen].

P –    Propose a solution [either party can do this, and one of them might also Provide a solution right now or Point to someone else who can help].


Make contact with the person involved:

  • “I am concerned about…”
  • “Helen, can we talk right now or at another time?”


Articulate your concern:

  • “Here is what happened… [describe the situation].”
  • “I am concerned about… [describe your concern].”


Also, both parties can Ask questions and Actively listen to what they hear from the other.  The goal is for both sides to better understand the situation as each person sees it.


Propose a solution:

  • “I wonder if this would work… [emphasize solutions that address your interests as well as the other person’s interests.]”


Sometimes the person can Provide a solution on the spot [“That shouldn’t have happened, I’ll fix it!”), or Point to someone else who can help (“Let’s call [Tom] – I know he can help on this.”).





C – 14


Integrative Solutions



Mediators refer to “Integrative Solutions” as action steps that pass a three-part test.  First, they honor, or at least do not violate, the most important interests of the parties.  Second, they square with the other facts that the parties have brought to the table.  And finally, they are better than the parties’ fallback positions (or Best Alternative To a Negotiated Agreement (BATNA).


Integrative Solutions are far more rigorous than comprises, which tend to have the parties “meet in the middle,” each perhaps giving up something that is very important to him or her.  An integrative solution may well involve compromise but also holds the promise of action steps that will creatively honor interests in ways that have far more payoff than a compromise.


The best Integrative Solutions honor “matters of the heart” of parties and do so in ways that creatively allow the parties to move in a direction that they might not have gone on their own.  The graphic below shows a picture of an Integrative Solutions box that addresses important interests and facts of individual parties.


One-Text for Four Parties


Party 1 Party 2 Party 3 Party 4



Other Facts




Possible Solutions





Other Facts




Possible Solutions




Other Facts




Possible Solutions




Other Facts




Possible Solutions




One-Text Integrative Solutions

(Action Steps)


Step                                   By Whom










C – 15


Interpersonal Peacemaking



The following outline may be used for conversations involving two or more people, with or without a facilitator or mediator, to assist in the process.  What follows is based on the premise that for many conflicts, one or more parties will focus on “sins of the past” that need to be addressed in order to move forward.  In a Christian context, the agenda can include the following elements:


  • Pray and recall the counsel of Scripture for conflict resolution (e.g., (Matthew 5:23-24, 18:15-17, I Corinthians 6:1-8, and Philippians 2:1-4).


  • Identify topic(s) and who should be included in the process now (and perhaps later).


  • Clarify what happened and intent (separating between the two) re: problems from the past.


  • Discuss what each side wishes had happened instead.


  • Explore Standard Solutions to bring about healing and Reconciliation now: acknowledgement / apology / repentance; restitution / punishment; plan for the future (corrective action); and forgiveness.


  • Make offers/requests about solutions from one person to another: e.g., apologies, commitments to engage in a certain behavior in the future, forgiveness.


  • Resolve unfinished issues with facilitator/mediator assisting, if necessary.


  • Summarize (e.g., who will do what, by when) and plan for follow-up (revisit the agreement to evaluate progress, stay the course, and/or redirect, etc.), or declare impasse.


If impasse, consider other options such as nonbinding or binding arbitration, or judicial process.


If Reconciliation, plan declarations to others who are involved in the conflict, or who have a stake in the outcome.

C – 16


Mediation Rules



These rules are reprinted by permission from Karl Slaikeu’s, When Push Comes to Shove: A Practical Guide to Mediating Disputes (1996).




The purpose of these ground rules is to define the mediation process and to serve as a guide for the parties in deciding whether or not to use mediation to solve a business problem or resolve a conflict.


Section 1: General Principles


  1.    Definition of Mediation.  Mediation is a process through which a third party assists two or more other parties in reaching agreement on any issue.  Mediation may be used as a part of a planning process (before there is a problem or conflict), or as method for formal dispute resolution.  Mediation is to be distinguished from arbitration and litigation, in which third parties (judge, panel, jury) decide the matter for the parties.


  1.    Outcome(s).  The objective of mediation is for the parties to reach agreement on steps to be taken to go forward with a plan, solve a problem, resolve a conflict, or settle a dispute.


  1.    Structure of the Process.  The mediator will provide information to the parties who inquire about mediation (through telephone contacts with all parties, including follow-up with written materials), and then schedule a joint opening meeting.  The remainder of the process will include a combination of individual, confidential caucuses (private meetings with each party), joint meetings, and/or shuttle meetings until the parties reach either an agreement or an impasse.  The process may be stopped at any time by the mediator declaring an impasse, or by one or more parties stopping participation.


Section 2:  The Role of the Mediator(s)


  1.    The Mediator will provide information to the parties regarding mediation, clarify ground rules, and structure a process for balanced discussion of the issues.


  1.    The Mediator will strive to maintain an impartial stance and will disclose any relevant biases or conflicts of interest to the parties.


  1.    The Mediator will also explain fees, confidentiality, and other aspects of the process required for the parties to make a decision regarding participation.


Section 3:  Role of the Parties


  1.    By participating in the mediation process, the parties agree to work with the Mediator and with the other parties in defining interests, generating relevant background information, and creating possible solutions.


  1.    Since participation is voluntary, the parties are not bound to accept any solutions proposed during mediation.  Similarly, the parties may at any time terminate the process, and pursue other options for dispute resolution.


Section 4:  Attorney Representation and Consultation


  1.    The parties may seek independent legal consultation at any time during the mediation process.


  1.    The parties may also be represented by counsel during the mediation.


Section 5:  Confidentiality


  1.    The Mediator will maintain the confidentiality of all information developed and produced during mediation process and will not disclose information to anyone outside the process without permission of the parties.


  1.    By participation in the process, the parties waive their right to subpoena the Mediator in any subsequent litigation and waive the right to require the Mediator to produce documents generated during the mediation.


Section 6:  Agreement to Mediate


By signing the Agreement to Mediate, the parties indicate their willingness to abide by the Mediation Rules throughout the duration of the mediation process.


Section 7:  Fees


The Mediator will charge an hourly fee, which will be shared equally by the parties, unless arranged otherwise at the start of mediation.


Section 8:  Cancellation


If a party desires to cancel a mediation appointment, he or she will notify the Mediator (and, if applicable, other parties) not less than 24 hours prior to the scheduled session.  Otherwise the Mediator will be entitled to compensation for the canceled mediation session.


Section 9:  Mediation Outcome and Termination


If the parties reach agreement, the Mediator will propose a draft of points agreed to for review and signature by the parties.


Any party or the Mediator may declare an impasse, at which time the Mediator will assist the parties in exploring next steps after the mediation, as well as conditions under which the parties may resume mediation.


Section 10: Interpretation of Rules


The Mediator shall interpret these Rules in accordance with his or her sole discretion and determination, and such interpretation shall be binding upon the parties during mediation.



C – 17


Mediation Steps



While the mediation process varies from one mediator to another, the following are characteristic of a process through which a third-party mediator assists two or more other parties in reaching agreement on steps to resolve a dispute or reach agreement on some issue.  These steps are reprinted from Karl Slaikeu’s, When Push Comes to Shove: A Practical Guide to Mediating Disputes (1996).


The mediation process includes the following steps:


(a)  Initial Contact (telephone or face-to-face): The mediator explains the process, ground rules, fee arrangements, and answers questions.


(b) Opening Meeting (face-to-face or telephone conference call):  The mediator invites each party to offer a brief summary of the issue(s) and assists in planning the agenda.  All parties sign an Agreement to Mediate.


(c)  Private Meeting:  The mediator meets with each party individually (confidential caucus) to elicit further detail on the important interests and facts.


(d) The mediator continues with individual meetings (“shuttle diplomacy”) and/or joint meetings, as needed.


(e)  Throughout the process the mediator assists the parties in:  identifying interests and options, and cooperating with one another to secure additional information (for example, appraisals, testimony of experts), all with a view to reaching an agreement.


(f)  If more time is needed, or if the parties require further data before reaching an agreement, additional meetings may be scheduled.


(g) Once an agreement is reached, the mediator assists the parties in planning all steps for implementation, including drafting a memorandum of agreement.


(h) If the parties reach an impasse, the mediator assists them in deciding whether to schedule further mediation or to pursue other avenues for resolution.


C – 18


Negotiation Steps



Negotiation is a process where two or more parties discuss an issue with a view to reaching a solution that all parties can accept.  The Conflict Grid is a tool that can be used by the parties to “unbundle” issues into component parts, thereby allowing reassembly into an “integrative solution.”  The five-step negotiation model presented below also provides a roadmap for parties to use in negotiating with one another.




This five-step model will help you to discuss an issue or conflict with others in a way that helps you identify interests and facts, create solutions may honor the interests and facts, and agree on an action plan that each person is willing to support.



Method Comments
The “five-step plan:”

1.   Open with Recognition and Respect

2.   Define the Collaborative Path

3.   Analyze via the Conflict Grid

4.   Create Integrative Solutions (“One-Text”)

5.   Close with a Test and Plans for Follow-up

“One-Text” Integrative Solutions*


*Consider Standard Solutions: acknowledgement/ apology, restitution/ punishment, plan for the future, forgiveness.


Step 1:

Open with Recognition and Respect




Open the door to discussing an issue or unresolved conflict; demonstrate respect for the other person(s); elicit the other person’s agreement to listen to your concern.


  • State Your Concern


“I would like to talk to you about…”


  • Communicate Respect


“I care about your feelings on this.”















Step 2:

Define the Collaborative Path




State your interest in working together to create a mutually agreeable solution.


  • State the Collaborative Approach


“Let’s see if we can come up with some solutions that might work for both of us?”


  • Create an Agenda Together


“I would like to talk about __________; what would you like to include on the agenda?”

Step 3:

Analyze via the Conflict Grid




To collect Conflict Grid information for each party, providing a comprehensive data set for creating Integrative Solutions:  interests; other facts; fallback (BATNA); possible solutions.


  • Ask Conflict Grid Questions


“I hear what you are proposing—could you tell me more so I can understand how that will help you?”


Use active listening to clarify and refine your understanding: “If I am hearing you correctly, you are especially concerned that…”


Invite stories, with elaboration, to elicit Conflict Grid data.


  • Disclose your own Conflict Grid data.


“I am especially worried that…”


  • Ask Conflict Grid questions about other interested parties.


“How does your boss see this?”


“How about members of your team?”





Step 4:

Create Integrative Solutions




To reach agreement on action steps that will honor the interests of the parties, square with available facts, and be better than their respective BATNA’s.


  • “Float” solutions that honor the interests and square with the other facts already identified.


  • Review Objective Standards: For example, an appraisal, an expert’s opinion, the “blue book” value.


  • Review Standard Solutions




Plan for the Future/Corrective Action



  • Resolve problems using a “three-part test” as a guide:


Do solutions honor or at least not violate key interests?


Do they square with “other facts?”


Are they better than the individual BATNA?

Step 5:

Close with a Test and Plans for Follow-Up




To test an integrative solution, summarize what you’ve agreed upon, and draft or in some other way memorialize the outcome; or, refer any unresolved problems to another avenue (higher authority), closing the process with the same respect for the parties that was required at the start of collaborative negotiations.


  • Test solutions against all dimensions of the Conflict Grid (interests of each party, range of other facts, BATNAs).


Note: Also test the solution against the views of outside parties who care about the negotiation.


  • Plan for follow-up, including future conflict resolution (negotiation/ mediation clause).


What if There is No Agreement?


  1. Buy time
  2. Consider mediation
  3. Exercise your BATNA
  4. Prepare for other side’s BATNA
  5. Agree to disagree
  6. Define a path to reopen negotiations

C – 19


Ombuds Model



Whether referred to as an ombudsman, ombudsperson, or ombuds, this role refers to an individual who helps others understand and access available options for resolving a dispute or conflict within a particular organizational context. The guidelines and ethical standards of the International Ombudsman Association (IOA) are available through their website IOA ombuds adhere to three core values, including: independence from the chain of command in the organization (the ombuds typically reports to the CEO or board and does not have direct decision making over others); neutrality on substantive matters (the ombuds takes no position on the substantive issues under consideration, but instead focuses primarily on the process of resolution); and confidentiality (with certain exceptions such as the threat of imminent harm, communications to the ombuds are confidential and privileged).



C – 20





Baruch Bush, R.A. and Folger, J.P. (2005). The promise of mediation. The transformative approach to conflict. San Francisco, CA: John Wiley & Sons, Inc.


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Chase, Oscar G. (2005). Law, culture, and ritual: Disputing systems in cross-cultural context. New York, NY: New York University Press.


Christianson, C.M. and Raynor, M.E. (2003). The innovator’s solution. Boston, MA: Harvard Business School Publishing Corporation.


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Cloke, K. (2002). Mediating dangerously: The frontiers of conflict resolution. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Inc.


Coulson, R. (1987). Business mediation-what you need to know. New York, NY: American Arbitration Association.


Coulson, R. (1983). Fighting fair. New York, NY: The Free Press.


Davis, A., and Salem, R. (1984). Dealing with power imbalances in the mediation of interpersonal disputes. In Procedures for guiding the divorce mediation process, edited by J.A. Lemmon. Mediation Quarterly, 6. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass.


Fisher, Roger, Ury, William L., Patton, Bruce M. Getting to Yes: Negotiating Agreement Without Giving In (1992). Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company.


Goldberg, S.B., Green, E.D., and Sander, F.E.A. Dispute Resolution (1985). Boston: Little Brown and Co.


Haynes, J.M. (1981). Divorce mediation: A practical guide for therapists and counselors. New York, NY: Springer Publishing Company.


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Lemmon, John Allen. Family Mediation Practice (1985). New York: The Free Press.


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Rogers, N., Bordone, R., Sander, F., & McEwen, C. (2013). Designing systems and processes for managing disputes (Aspen coursebook series). New York, NY: Wolters Kluwer Law & Business.


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Shell, G.R. (1999). Bargaining for advantage: Negotiation strategies for reasonable people. New York, NY: Penguin Putnam, Inc.


Slaikeu, K.A. “Conflict Management: Essential Skills for Healthcare Managers (1992).” Journal of Healthcare Materiel Management, November-December, 36-48.

Slaikeu, K.A. (1990). Crisis intervention: A handbook for practice and research (2nd ed.). Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.


Slaikeu, K.A. (1989). Designing dispute resolution systems in the health care industry. Negotiation Journal, 5(4), 395-400.


Slaikeu, K.A. (1996). When push comes to shove: A practical guide to mediating disputes. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass Inc., Publishers.


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C – 21





Webster’s New World Dictionary defines Reconciliation as: “to make friends again or to settle (a quarrel).” To this definition we add that the Standard Solutions often provide the path through which Reconciliation can occur.


While Steps 5 and 6 on the Preferred Path rarely lead to Reconciliation in conflict situations, all of the other Steps are intended to achieve Reconciliation among individuals and groups. The various “Integrative Solutions” may either achieve this or help the parties take a step in that direction.


For more on the role of the Standard Solutions in achieving Reconciliation, see Interpersonal Peacemaking.


C – 22


Responding to a Concern



The MAP Model can be used as a guide to respond to a person who is bringing a complaint.  Note that the MAP Model allows the person receiving the complaint to: acknowledge the person and their right to raise a concern (the M for Making contact); ask  questions to clarify key interests, use active listening along the way, then move toward collaborative problem solving and Integrative Solutions.


The hallmark of the MAP model is that it can be used “in the moment” for short exchanges (vs. the longer conversations of a negotiation or mediation process).


The MAP Model for responding can be summarized as follows:


Use the MAP Model:


M – Make Contact with the Person Involved

A –   Ask Questions/ Actively Listen and Articulate

P –    Provide Relief / Propose Solutions / Point to Other Help


Make Contact with the person involved:

  • Stop, Look, and Listen
  • First words: “I’m sorry to hear…”


Ask questions/Actively listen to better understand the person’s concern:

  • “What happened?  It sounds like…”
  • “What you most need/want?”


also Articulate your own facts and interests.


Provide relief / Propose solutions / Point to Other Help:

  • Suggest specific action steps that could solve the problem or part of it.
  • As a fallback if you cannot provide relief, suggest someone who can (e.g., pastor, staff, supervisor, ombuds, …).


C – 23





Below are Scripts used in Blue Lion skills training. Each offers examples of communication, negotiation, and mediation (formal and informal) conversations.


Communication Skills

Light Duty



Commercial Negotiation

Performance Evaluation



The Problem with This Team


Informal Mediation

Flying Higher



Script – Light Duty

“What’s Wrong with This Picture?”


The Scene: Warehouse


ART: Warehouse Manager

JOHNNY: Forklift Operator


[Knock at door.]


JOHNNY:      Art?


ART:               [Continues to do paperwork, with no eye contact.  Tone of impatience.]  Yeah, what is it?


JOHNNY:      When I returned to work this week, I thought my job would remain the same.  But Fred’s got me on a different shift and not working as many hours.  You know, it’s not my fault I had to miss work because of an injury on the job.


ART:               [Looks up to confront Johnny.]  Yeah, well, you’ve been out on worker’s comp for the last two months.


JOHNNY:      Yea.


ART:               Yeah, well maybe you have to earn your job back, huh?


JOHNNY:      Well, that’s not fair.


ART:               Fair?  Why don’t you just appreciate that you still got a job, okay?


JOHNNY:      It’s not my fault that I got hurt at work.    You think I wanted to be out of work and in terrible pain?  Maybe I should just go talk to your boss and see what he thinks about the situation you’ve put me in.


ART:               Look, you go anywhere you like, but don’t come back here until you are ready to work when and where I tell you, all right?






The MAP Model

Scene: The Warehouse


ART:   Warehouse Manager

JOHNNY: Forklift Operator


[Knock at door.]


Make Contact


ART:               Come in.


JOHNNY:      Art?


ART:               [Gets up from chair; motions to Johnny to have a seat.]  Hello, Johnny, come on in.   What’s up?


JOHNNY:      When I returned to work this week, I thought my job would remain the same.  But Fred’s got me on a different shift and not working as many hours.  It’s not my fault I had to miss two months because of an injury on the job.


ART:               [Leans forward] Sounds like a problem. Let’s talk about it.


Ask/Actively Listen/Articulate


ART:               What was your understanding of your job responsibilities when you returned from workers comp?


JOHNNY:      I thought I’d go back to my same job.  I expected to be treated the same way I was before I had to leave.


ART:               So, you’re saying you thought that you’d have the same hours and the same job responsibilities?


JOHNNY:      That’s right.


ART:               Okay.


JOHNNY:      Is my boss trying to get back at me for making the Company pay for my injury?


ART:               I don’t know.  Is there something he’s doing that would make you think he’s unhappy with you?


JOHNNY:      He just acts like he doesn’t like me.


ART:               In what way?


JOHNNY:      It’s the way he talks to me.  His tone of voice.  He acts like he doesn’t trust me, shows me no respect and does it right in front of the other guys.


ART:               Okay, Johnny to sum up what you’ve told me, you expected to come back from workers comp to your original job and you think Fred may be trying to run you off based on how he talks to you—the tone, no respect.


JOHNNY:      That’s right [nod].


ART:               I want to help you with those things.  May I tell you about a couple of things that concern me?


JOHNNY:      Yea.


ART:               All right.  Now I’ve heard that you’re out in the warehouse talking about quitting, and about how badly you’ve been treated, and encouraging others to come with you. I’d like to hear about that.


JOHNNY:      I was just saying that because I was mad at Fred because he seemed to have no respect for all of my years of hard work.  Once I was gone, he just replaced me even though I was coming back.


ART:               Well, you know I don’t like to hear that people are so unhappy they want to quit.  I want this to be a great place to work.


JOHNNY:      I’m glad you feel that way.


ART:               When there is a problem, Johnny, I want to hear about it, I need to hear about it.  If there’s a problem, and if you can’t solve it with Fred, or if you’re not comfortable talking to him, I need you to do just what you’re doing today, come in here and talk to me.


JOHNNY:      I can do that.


ART:               [smiles, nods head] Good!




ART:               I realize you would like to be on second shift again, so I will do everything I can to change your schedule in the next few months.


JOHNNY:      Thanks for working with me on this.


ART:               I would like to set up a meeting with Fred, since he’s your supervisor, to talk this out.  Is that okay?


JOHNNY:      I think that’s good.


ART:               Okay.  So, let’s plan to talk about your new assignment and about how you guys communicate with each other. We’ll also want to hear about any concerns that Fred may have.  How does that sound?


JOHNNY:      Good.


ART:               Have we covered it all?


JOHNNY:      I think so.


ART:               Great.  Let me call Fred and then we’ll all get together.


JOHNNY:      Thank you.


ART:               And let me know if there’s anything else I can help with, Johnny.


JOHNNY:      Good deal.


Script – Commercial Negotiation

What’s Wrong with This Picture?



ANITA:          Good morning, Charlie.


CHARLIE:      Good morning.


ANITA:          So, we’re here to talk about a deal for the next generation of your product?


CHARLIE:      That’s right, and let me tell you, it’s going to be expensive.


ANITA:          Excuse me, but you’re trying to hold me up before we even get started?


CHARLIE:      Well, I just wanted you to know up front.


ANITA:          Well, thank you.  [Sarcastically] And I want you to know that if your price is too high, we may need to look elsewhere.


CHARLIE:      Well, I suppose one good threat deserves another.  What would it be like if we were slow getting to those support calls of yours?


ANITA:          No, you have an absolute contractual obligation to provide that support no matter what.


CHARLIE:      We’ll see about that.

Step 1: Open with Respect and Recognition


ANITA:          Good morning, Charlie.


CHARLIE:      Good morning.


ANITA:          Why don’t you have a seat?


So, we’re here to talk about a deal for the next generation of your product?


CHARLIE:      That’s right, and let me tell you, it’s going to be expensive.


ANITA:          Well, I want to hear all about that. Let’s make an agenda.

Step 2: Define the Collaborative Path


CHARLIE:      Do you realize how many support calls your people make?


ANITA:          A lot, I know.  Having excellent and unlimited service is very important to us.


CHARLIE:      I understand, but a lot is an understatement.  And we still don’t have a company-wide agreement.  Why are you so slow in getting your people to commit?  How would you feel if we were that slow in answering these calls, or what if some of them didn’t get answered at all?


ANITA:          Charlie, we have a lot on the table here.  I have every confidence that we can negotiate something that’ll work for both of us.  Let’s make a list.  You’ve raised the issue of price, and the support calls.  Both are important to me. We also need to address the issue of a company-wide agreement.  Anything else?


CHARLIE:      Well, I hear through the grapevine that a number of your units are wanting to make individual modifications to our product.  Now that’s going to require a change in the entire licensing agreement.


ANITA:          You’re right.  Let’s add that as the fourth item to the list.  Where should we start?


CHARLIE:      Well, I think with price.


ANITA:          Okay, let’s start with price.

Step 3: Analyze Using the

Blue Lion Conflict Grid


Segment A


CHARLIE:           Now, as I mentioned before, this is going to be expensive, so get ready.


ANITA:                Well, I want to hear all about that.  So, what’s driving the price up?


CHARLIE:           Well, we were manufacturing offshore, but we had to bring it all back to the States—that overseas facility wasn’t working out.


ANITA:                So, it’s the shift to domestic production that’s driving the price up?


CHARLIE:            Yes.


ANITA:                Anything else?


CHARLIE:           Well, two things.  First, your support calls are off the charts!


ANITA:                What would help you in that?


CHARLIE:           We need to have something that accounts for support volume, and we still don’t have a company-wide deal, and we have to have one before we can even talk about changing the license agreement.


ANITA:                Let’s talk about that last point first.  I can see why you’d need a company-wide deal.  I’m in a bind though because before the business units will say yes, they need a clear commitment from you that you’ll allow product modifications—can you help me on that?


CHARLIE:            Well, let’s see.


Segment B


ANITA:                Let’s go back to the support calls.


CHARLIE:            Okay, great.  Your people are making 4,000 calls a year.


ANITA:                We rely on you.  Is there something about 4,000 that seems high?


CHARLIE:           Oh, we can handle that many, but it costs money to staff those phone lines.


ANITA:                I have been watching this issue, and I’m wondering if volume isn’t linked to product orientation training?  I think if you could provide more training up front, we could cut the volume.  And maybe above a certain level volume could be linked to price?


Segment C


ANITA:                Let’s talk about the license modifications.


CHARLIE:            Have at it.


ANITA:                If you can make a commitment that we can include in the licensing agreement a provision for modifying the product, I’m sure we can get all of the business units on board.


CHARLIE:            Well, that’s not as easy as it sounds.


ANITA:                Say more.


CHARLIE:           From what I hear, a number of your business units want to make unilateral modifications. They’ve given us absolutely no indication that they’ll work together with us before making changes.  What we need is a mechanism that will monitor and approve modifications.


ANITA:                I’ll talk to them about that.  I think we can fix that.  What else would be in the way?


CHARLIE:           Well, our legal department has put together a list of five main points. Why don’t you look that over and we’ll talk about it.


ANITA:                So, these five points, plus a mechanism for working together with you before modifying the product?


CHARLIE:            You got it.

Step 4: Create One-Text Integrative Solutions


Segment A


CHARLIE:      Okay.  You’ve gotten me to give you a very good price.  Now, we’ve moved production back to the U.S., what happens if our costs go up even more?


ANITA:          What are you thinking?


CHARLIE:      Well, an escalator clause that allows us to increase the price.


ANITA:          And, how would that read?


CHARLIE:      Here’s something we’ve worked up.


Segment B


ANITA:          Now we’re discussing how to deal with your production costs, and you’ve suggested an escalator clause.


CHARLIE:      That’s right.


ANITA:          Here’s my concern: you’ve told me that you don’t share data on your cost breakdown.  Picture me trying to sell a price increase on the basis of an escalator clause without the cost data.


CHARLIE:      Costs may go up for us.


ANITA:          Without the costs data though there’s no way I can sell this to my people.  What can you do about that?

Segment C


ANITA:          Now here’s one thing I need to check with you.  Are we in agreement on the support provisions of the new deal?


CHARLIE:      Yes.  The number of calls is going to go down, right?


ANITA:          Well, we hope so. You’ve agreed to give us a new training module on a pilot basis, to see if that can’t head off some of the calls.


CHARLIE:      I think it will.


ANITA:          Good. I think so, too.  I must confess, though, that when I hear you mention volume so many times I get concerned.  Because even if the new training doesn’t cut down on the number of calls, I must have 24-hour, 7-day a-week, 365-day-a-year support.


Segment D


ANITA:          Now on the license.  Subject to approval we are talking about a company-wide agreement which includes a term that allows us to modify the product for special applications.


CHARLIE:      Subject to our prior approval.


ANITA:          Yes.  Let’s draft this provision now and circulate it—both of us—and that way we can smoke out objections or problems.


CHARLIE:      Okay.


Step 5: Close with a Plan for Follow-Up


ANITA:          Okay, so we’ve spelled out all of the terms including price, support services and licensing.


CHARLIE:      Right.


ANITA:          How about if I check back with you in about a week after we each have had a chance to talk with our people?  Then I’ll schedule phone conferences with you at six weeks and 12 weeks with you and our production people.


CHARLIE:      Sounds good.  But that is not going to stop me from calling you sooner if I’m not happy.


ANITA:          That’s great.  I want you to do that.   In fact, let’s make that a two-way street.  If either of us has any problems, we’ll just pick up the phone and call.  Have we got it?


CHARLIE:      Yes.


ANITA:          Good.






Script – Performance Evaluation Negotiation


This script presents a negative example, followed by the same situation carried out in a different way. See the Negotiation Steps tool for a summary of the model used by Anita, the manager.


“Performance Evaluation”

What’s Wrong With This Picture?


ANITA: Thanks for coming in, Robert.
ROBERT: Well, you’re welcome, Anita. What’s up?
ANITA: It’s about your upcoming performance review. The way I see it, you’re unfit for your job. You’re disorganized and you’re not a team player.
ROBERT: Well, I don’t think that’s accurate and I don’t think that’s fair.
ANITA: Well, a lot of people agree with me.
ROBERT: Like who?
ANITA: That’s confidential.



ROBERT: Well, I can see that you’re not gonna give me a fair review and I’m gonna tell you something right now. If you’re gonna give me that kind of a review, I’ll go straight over your head to Personnel.
ANITA: Well, I will give you that kind of review if I don’t see more out of you.
ROBERT: Well, I don’t understand what you want. You know, I don’t get a fair deal here. You invite me to your office, and you start calling me names. You say I’m unfit and not a team player, and I don’t appreciate that. So, I tell you, you’re not leaving me any options, I have to go to Human Resources.
ANITA: You can go to HR right now if you like.
ROBERT: I think I will.


Step 1: Open With Respect and Recognition


ANITA: Thanks for bringing this report by, Robert. You have time to talk now?
ROBERT: Sure, what is it?
ANITA: It’s about your upcoming performance review. We’ve got an evaluation coming up in a few months and I do have some concerns about your work. I’d like for us to discuss it before then to see if we can get things on track.
ROBERT: Well, sure, I’d like to talk about that also.
ANITA: Do you have time for that now?
ROBERT: Sure. I can talk about it now.


Step 2: Define the Collaborative Path


ROBERT: So, Anita, what am I doing wrong?
ANITA: Robert, let’s not start out like that. I’d like to talk with a goal in mind of coming up with a plan that works for both of us. How does that sound?
ROBERT: It sounds good but I’m still pretty nervous about this.
ANITA: Let’s do this. Let’s talk about the things that you do well and also areas where I need to see some improvement. Do you have anything you’d like to add to the agenda?
ROBERT: How about training?
ANITA: Let’s just add that to our list here. What order shall we take them in?
ROBERT: Let’s start with what I do well.


Step 3: Analyze Using the Conflict Grid


ANITA: Robert, let me tell you first how much I like your attitude. You have a real way with people. People like you.
ROBERT: Well, thanks. I appreciate that, Anita.
ANITA: I do have a few concerns though about your overall organization. Unless I’m mistaken, you missed two project deadlines recently.
ROBERT: Hmm. I’m only aware of missing one deadline.
ANITA: Well, there was the Baxter Report and then there was the IT Report.
ROBERT: Now I was late on the Baxter Report but can we talk about the IT Report? That was John’s responsibility.
ANITA: My understanding was that he transferred that project to you.
ROBERT: I didn’t think twice about that one. I thought he was in charge of it.



ANITA: Well, that may be a misunderstanding. Why don’t I talk to John and get back to you? But, Robert, my biggest concern relates to office organization. The coordinators say the files are in disarray and that you don’t manage your people well enough. What do you say about that?
ROBERT: Well, I got the promotion even though I didn’t have much of a background in supervision or office management and I think some training would really help.
ANITA: That’s my view as well. Let’s take care of that for you. I do have one other concern. There have been some long lunch breaks and some irregular breaks. Could you tell me about that?
ROBERT: I’ve had some family problems that I didn’t discuss with you and I’ve taken care of them now. Looking back I can see where that looked bad.
ANITA: That helps me understand. Anything we can do to help?
ROBERT: No. Things are better right now. Thanks.



ANITA: I’m glad to hear that. My concern though is the example set for the staff. I need for you to try to anticipate conflicts in your schedule and either resolve them or come to me for assistance. I need your help on that issue–can we have that agreement?
ROBERT: That’s fair. I can do that.


Step 4: Create One-Text Integrative Solutions


ANITA: Robert, let’s see what we’ve got so far. I’ve learned that you were late on only one report, and I’ll modify my notes on that. I want to check with the others about postings, since we each had different information on the assignment. Second, we’ll get you some training within two weeks.
ROBERT: Great.
ANITA: You know, I think I’ll feel better about this if we have a way to check in with each other. How about Monday morning meetings for the next month?
ANITA: Let’s do that. Anything else?
ROBERT: Not that I can think of. Wait, I did agree to notify you in advance of any schedule changes you might need.
ANITA: Yeah. Now let’s just picture how that might go, because that is important to me. You’re running late or something pops up at home and you call me – is our plan going to work for you – can you do that?
ROBERT: Oh yeah, I can do that. Could we add a couple of other things to our notes?
ANITA: Tell me more.
ROBERT: Well, I’d like to make sure that my good points show up in the review.
ANITA: How might that look?
ROBERT: Well, you know the things we talked about before, my attitude and the way that I work with people.
ANITA: How about this: I will take a run at drafting something on that point and I’ll ask you to review it.
ROBERT: That sounds good to me. And I’d also like to talk about training. You know we went by that pretty quickly and I want to make sure that we’re talking about the same things. It was supervisory training and office management skills.
ANITA: Got them both. Supervision and office management.
ROBERT: Right.


Step 5: Close With a Plan for Follow-Up


ANITA: Okay, we’ve specified areas for improvement and a plan for follow-up. We’ll have monthly meetings to make sure we’re on track. Have we missed anything?
ROBERT: I don’t think so.
ANITA: So, this plan seems like a good one to you?
ROBERT: Yes. I think it’s very fair.
ANITA: I really appreciate the way we’ve talked about this. We needed a new plan and now we have one.
ROBERT: It’s turned out to be a plus for me too. I’d really hate to think about some of these things getting into my final evaluation before we had a chance to talk about it.
ANITA: Well, I’m glad we were able to do that.


Script – The Problem With This Team



The script below provides an example of a workplace application of the Mediation Steps tool. Sam is a mediator who serves as a part of the company’s internal Mediation Team made up of trained managers who provide help via Human Resources.


“The Problem With This Team”


Initial Contact


DAN: What is it, Sam?
SAM: The team members asked me if I’d stop by to see you. They’re upset that the last team meeting went so badly. They’re not happy, and they feel badly that you were upset, too.
DAN: What do they want?
SAM: They’d like to see if they could get this team back on track. They asked me, since you and I have worked together, and since I know all of them, if I’d take a run at mediating this thing.
SAM: No, I’m here because they asked me to help them and you work out your differences.
DAN: How would mediation help?
SAM: A mediator assists parties in negotiating. A mediator doesn’t make any decisions or tell anyone what to do; he or she just helps the parties in finding solutions they can both accept.
DAN: This was their idea?
SAM: They suggested it. They seem to want to straighten things out.
DAN: Well, it’s the first thing they’ve ever done as a team.
SAM: If you said yes to it, this is what it would be: It’s confidential. We’d start with an opening meeting with all of you together. I’d describe the process and you’d each say why you were there. Then I’d have a round of caucuses—private, confidential meetings with each of you. I wouldn’t convey anything said to me in a caucus to the other parties without permission. Then, depending on what would work best, we’d either get back together or I’d shuttle back and forth. We’d close with a joint meeting either to confirm that we had a deal or to declare impasse. That’s the way it would work.
DAN: What if I say no?
SAM: Well, that’s your right. I guess in that case you might have to present two sets of recommendations to the Quality Council. I wonder if that would help anyone.
DAN: Probably not.
SAM: Shall we take a run at it?
DAN: What the heck, things couldn’t be much worse than they are now.


Opening Meeting


[What do you notice in terms of mediator behavior in the opening meeting?]


SAM: We’re here today because your process improvement team ran into some problems. As you have described it to me, there was an open conflict at your last meeting, the meeting broke down and some of the team members then asked me to assist all of you in trying to work this thing out. As I have mentioned to each of you, mediation is a process through which a third party assists people in finding their own solutions to problems. I’m not here as a judge, to tell anyone what to do, or as an advocate for any of you individually. Mediation is confidential. Whatever you say to me, stays with me, unless you give me permission to discuss your views with the other parties.
Here’s how the process works: After I finish my opening remarks, I’ll ask each of you to tell me why you’re here. I’ll invite you to ask questions and clarify some issues. That’s the opening meeting. We’ll follow the opening meeting with a round of caucuses. Caucuses are private, confidential meetings with each party. I won’t convey anything I learn in a caucus to another party without permission. The purpose of the caucuses is to make me smarter about what each of you wants or needs. I’ll ask you not to attach any importance to the order or length of the caucuses—I’ll conduct them in whatever way will best help us move forward. After the caucuses, I’ll either get us all back together or I’ll continue to shuttle. I’ll do whatever will work best to help you reach a solution. We’ll close with a joint meeting, either to confirm an agreement or to declare an impasse. A few ground rules:

·       Let’s try not to interrupt one another.

·       If you have questions or comments, please jot them down—I’ll make sure you have a chance to raise them.

·       I will assume that it’s acceptable to use first names. I certainly want you to call me by my first name. Is that all right with you?

[Both nod yes.]

·       If you reach an agreement, or if you don’t, I’ll help you decide what and how to report back to the team.

Any questions?

Okay. Normally I ask the party that requested mediation to start. Kirsten, can you tell us why you are here?

KIRSTEN: Dan Green is destroying this team. He edits the notes at the end of the team meetings. He interrupts people. He browbeats people. He’s a dictator.
SAM: You’re mentioning a number of things: concerns about editing, behavior during the meetings, and Dan’s style. Is that right?
KIRSTEN: That’s the polite way to put it.



DAN: We’ve never had a team to begin with. These people don’t anymore care about this project than the man in the moon.
KIRSTEN: As if you do.
DAN: They come to these meetings and act like they’re back from a day at the beach.
KIRSTEN: That’s because you’re such a dictator.
SAM: Okay, remember our rule about interruptions. [Turns to Kirsten.]

Kirsten, are there other things you want to say?

KIRSTEN: That’s about it.
SAM: Thank you, and now, Dan, it’s your turn. Perhaps you could summarize your main concerns.



DAN: People don’t speak up in the meetings but then they come whine to me later when they don’t get what they want. Some of them can’t quit talking, then they get offended when I try to make sure that others get to speak. Others just kind of sit there with their crossword puzzles—they don’t say or do anything. I don’t know how the Quality Council ever picked this group and expected it to work!
SAM: So, your list parallels Kirsten’s. But your concerns are about the team members, their behavior during the meetings; coming to you outside the meeting to complain, instead of raising issues when everyone is in the room. Is that the idea?
DAN: You got it.
SAM: Building on your opening statements, our mediation agenda could be to see if the two of you can reach some understanding on steps that you and the team might take to improve this working relationship. Have I got that right?
KIRSTEN: Yeah, that’s what’s needed.
DAN: I agree.
SAM: I’d like to meet with each of you privately at this point. I’ll start with you, Kirsten, since you initiated mediation. Dan, you could wait around the corner in the study. Or, you could return to your office and I’ll get back to you when we are finished. Any preference?
DAN: The study’s fine.
SAM: Fine. I’ll get back with you shortly.




[What Conflict Grid information does the mediator elicit in these caucuses?]


Caucus with Dan


DAN: Well, part of it is our facilitator. He may have been a bad choice. He can’t control the meetings. I may have been heavy-handed in running the meetings, but when I see some people dominating the meetings and when I see recommendations that I don’t believe truly represent the views of the group, I get frustrated, and I feel like I have to do something.
SAM: As you describe it, I can see how you could get frustrated and feel that you need to take charge. Maybe they need to hear more about the impact of their behavior on you—the frustration, for example.
SAM: Maybe we can help that along.
SAM: Dan, what would make this whole thing better?



DAN: Well, I think the whole team has to clarify its commitment to the original mission. They have to start behaving like team members—showing up on time, making their suggestions in the meetings instead of later; they need to speak up—that sort of thing. Also, we have to have a new facilitator.
SAM: How would that help?
DAN: Well, if we had a facilitator who could control the group and edit the minutes, I wouldn’t have to. I don’t know how to replace him without causing more problems at this point.
SAM: Some of the team members have suggested training, perhaps for everyone, including the facilitator? Do you think that might help?
DAN: Maybe. We could try it.
SAM: Anything else?
DAN: That’s about it.
SAM: I’d like to tell you about a few other things I hear from them.
DAN: Good, have at it.
SAM: It seems that both sides need to affirm their commitment to the team. For example, they think you don’t want the team to work.
DAN: Well, they’re wrong, I’d be happy to clarify that for them.
SAM: Good. They also seem to have a tough time with some of the words you use to describe them: “lame,” “worthless,” “lazy.”


DAN: [Smiling back.] Well, I do that when I get frustrated. I know that’s not a very good choice of words.
SAM: Maybe you could tell them that and try to make some changes along those lines.
DAN: [Tongue in cheek.] Okay, when they stop being lazy, I’ll stop calling them lazy. Is that what you mean?
SAM: Not quite.
DAN: I know, I know. I need to stop with the names.



Caucus with Kirsten

SAM: Well, Kirsten, let me remind you that this meeting is confidential. I won’t repeat anything you tell me without your permission. Tell me more about how you see this situation.
KIRSTEN: It’s him, he’s the problem. He’s got to go.
SAM: How would that help you?
KIRSTEN: Well, at least our notes wouldn’t get edited after the fact. And we wouldn’t get interrupted. When we had a consensus, it wouldn’t be sabotaged.
SAM: Tell me more about the editing.
KIRSTEN: He literally rewrites the minutes to suit himself. He leaves little or no time for anyone to see them. He sends memoranda to the Quality Council that reflect his view, not the group consensus.



SAM: It seems like there are several things here that bother you. Changing the minutes is one thing. Not providing time to discuss the corrections before the next meeting is another and sending memoranda to the Quality Council that distort the consensus of the group is another.
SAM: How about the interruptions during the meetings?
KIRSTEN: Well, he just cuts off conversation if he doesn’t like the way it’s going. He humiliates people.
SAM: In what way?
KIRSTEN: He calls people names.
SAM: For example?
KIRSTEN: “Lame,” “worthless,” “lazy,” stuff like that. “Pin-headed.”
SAM: So, the name-calling is especially bad?
SAM: Anything else?



KIRSTEN: Well, he never believed in the team philosophy to start with. We think he’s just trying to kill the whole deal so he can go back to the way things used to be.
SAM: So, as you see it, it’s as if there’s an underlying motive to almost sabotage the process, because he doesn’t believe in it?
SAM: Kirsten, how do you suppose Dan views all of this?
KIRSTEN: The same old thing he always says. No teamwork, some people come late, blah, blah, blah…
SAM: What’s that about?
KIRSTEN: It may be that there’s some truth to what he says, but his behavior is worse.
SAM: Could it be that both sides need to make some changes in dealing with each other?
SAM: What would make this thing better for you?
KIRSTEN: He needs to go!
SAM: That’s one option. What if you can’t get that?
KIRSTEN: Well, he’s got to stop doing all the things we already discussed.
SAM: The interrupting, the editing, the name-calling.
KIRSTEN: Yeah. And we’ve got to know he’s committed to the team concept and to this team’s mission. We don’t think he is.
SAM: So, he would need to reaffirm or clarify his commitment to the mission?
KIRSTEN: Yeah. And admit to us that he hasn’t treated us right.
SAM: [Slowly] Okay. Would you and the others would be willing to do the same in return—admit error, and offer to make changes?
KIRSTEN: Depends what it is.


SAM: We’ll see what he might ask. I would think it would be some of the concerns he stated in the opening meeting.
KIRSTEN: Let’s see what he wants.
SAM: Okay, have you told me anything I can’t repeat to Dan?
KIRSTEN: No, I don’t think so.
SAM: Alright, let me meet with him, and I’ll get back to you.


Caucus with Dan

Dan, just to remind you this meeting is confidential. I won’t repeat anything you tell me without your permission. So, tell me how you see this thing.

DAN: It’s a disaster. This whole project has just gone downhill fast.
SAM: In what way?
DAN: Well, just what I said in the meeting. I don’t think they take this project seriously. They don’t act like they’re committed to it.



SAM: Some are late, some don’t talk, some complain after the meetings, some dominate?
DAN: Yeah. I can’t get anything done in a timely manner. The buck stops here, so I have to take over just to make something happen.
SAM: That must be frustrating.
DAN: Well, it is.
SAM: How do you suppose they view all of this? In the opening meeting Kirsten implied that you were opposed to the whole team concept.
DAN: That’s way overblown. Sure, before this project started, I objected to it. But once top management decided to go forward, I accepted the decision and my assignment as team leader. I’ve been doing my best to make the teamwork.
SAM: I have a hunch that the team members might need to hear that from you. Are there other concerns?



[Using information from this mediation (through Step 4), make your own list of steps that might go into the “one-text integrative solution.”]


SAM: Well, I’ve now had a chance to meet with each of you, and I think I see a path that might open some doors. Could I run some ideas by you to see?
KIRSTEN: Let’s go.
SAM: Okay. First, everyone seems to agree that the team members and the team leader need to restate their commitment to the team and its mission.
SAM: Second, there are a lot of problems with how people participate in meetings, and many of these might be helped by training. The training could specifically cover the roles of team members, the team facilitator and the team leader.



SAM: As a part of this, you might establish a new set of ground rules for the meetings. For example, have the facilitator edit the minutes and circulate them to all team members for comment. Only after comment would the facilitator send the minutes to the Quality Council.
KIRSTEN: He really said yes to that?
SAM: Yes, he did. Most important, I think each of you will need to take responsibility for some changes in how you relate to each other. Dan has some things he wants to say to you in the closing meeting. I think he realizes he’s been a bit heavy-handed at times. But he’ll need something in return. Can you admit as you did with me, that the team members haven’t always done their part?



SAM: Well, just as you did with me, in admitting that some have come to meetings late, some have gone to Dan after meetings, some haven’t expressed their views and others may have spoken too much, and that the team members know that such conduct didn’t help. Can you do that?
KIRSTEN: If he’ll admit his part first.
SAM: I believe he will.


Mediator Meets With Dan Alone


SAM: Dan, I spoke with Kirsten, and she agrees with the points that came out of our private meeting. She agrees also to have a next meeting with you and me to talk this over. I want to alert you to a couple of things as we prepare for the meeting.
DAN: Go ahead.
SAM: Well, I think it will be important to start with the two of you summarizing some of your concerns, and taking turns was hard. I know it’s the opening meeting, but it would certainly help if you would not interrupt her in this meeting. I’m telling the same thing to her.
DAN: Fine.
SAM: And after looking at the behavior and what it has meant to each of you, then it’s a matter of talking about solutions, and seeing what each of you can bring to the table. We’ve discussed the specific steps in private, now it’s time to talk about these with one another.
DAN: I can do that. But I need to hear that she and the others are really willing to change.
SAM: I know you do. Let’s see what happens at the meeting.




How does the mediator’s one-text compare with your own list? Underline key points in the script below.




SAM: I suggest we do a couple of things in this joint meeting. First, I’d like you each to take turns giving a summary of the behavior from the other side that has been a problem for you. This time talk to each other, and not to me. Talk specifically about what happened, and the impact it had on you. For example, Kirsten, talk about how you and the others have felt about what it’s like when Dan edits the minutes. Dan, I’d like to hear you talk about what it’s like to try to chair a meeting when people are doing a lot of distracting things in the room. Then, let’s look forward. Let’s move from talking about problems to offers of behavioral steps that each of you can make. Okay, Dan you’ve said you’d like to start?



DAN: Right off the bat I’d like to say that I do want the team to work. It’s true that I opposed the concept when it was first introduced. But once senior management decided to adopt this new approach, I supported them as a manager should.
KIRSTEN: Dan, how much of this is you, and how much are you saying because the mediator talked to you?
DAN: This is me. The mediator did point out a lot of things, but I mean what I say.
KIRSTEN: You sure didn’t act like you wanted it to work.
DAN: Let me tell you what it was like for me. Once we started working, I found myself getting frustrated. I saw people acting in ways that were not productive: some talking too much; others working on other projects at team meetings; others showing up late or not at all. Some of you came to me after meetings, outside of our ground rules, to complain. We had no team at all. I felt I had to take charge, just to make something happen. And about the name calling, I wish I hadn’t done that.
KIRSTEN: Okay, I can accept that. Can you see that when you took charge it just made things worse?
DAN: Well, you know, I can now. At the time, Kirsten, I didn’t know what else to do.
SAM: How about you and the team, Kirsten?
KIRSTEN: We were frustrated too. We felt you weren’t committed. I know that team members did the things you describe, and that those behaviors hurt us as a team.
DAN: So, they see what they did, the disruption in the meeting.
KIRSTEN: Well, let me put it this way: I’m sorry for the frustration it caused you. When we go to them together, I’ll say the same things to them that I’m now saying to you. I think that people will admit their mistakes if you can begin in the way you did today, taking the first step.
DAN: I will, but I’ve got to tell you, I don’t think some of them will ever come on board.



SAM: We’ll see, won’t we? The two of you may be more influential than you think.
I think you’ve taken some important steps here. Kirsten has agreed to talk to others to see if they will come aboard. You’ve also agreed that you want a written memo. I can write one to include the following: First, all team members and the team leader need to restate their commitment to the team and its mission.
SAM: Second, the team leader will request a training session on the team process and team meetings. That training would specifically cover the roles and responsibilities of team members, the team facilitator and the team leader. Dan will make the request by the end of the day tomorrow, with the goal of completing the training by the 21st.



SAM: As a part of the training, you will establish a new set of ground rules for management of and participation in team meetings. Under those rules it would be the responsibility of the facilitator to edit the minutes and circulate then to all team members for comment. Only after the comment period would the facilitator send the minutes to the Quality Council. Dan will also schedule a follow-up session with the facilitator to make sure that the team gets all it needs out of the training. The follow-up session will be set for two months after the initial session. You’ve also agreed to include a dispute resolution clause, the terms of which will be these: If a conflict arises, you will first attempt to resolve it among yourselves. If you still can’t work it out, you will seek assistance through a member of the mediation team. Have I got that right?
KIRSTEN & DAN: [Both nod yes.]



KIRSTEN: We also said we would have a meeting with the team, where we both will brief them on what we have come up with in mediation, to see if they can’t come on board with the steps you just reviewed.
DAN: Right.
SAM: Okay, let’s test this a bit. Dan, what will you do if someone comes up after a meeting to complain?
DAN: Put it on the agenda for the next team meeting. Tell them to talk about it in the group.
KIRSTEN: Me too, because they do the same with me sometimes.
SAM: Good. Let me ask both of you: Have we missed anything?
SAM: Okay. I’ll draft the memo and a To-Do List by the end of the day. I’ll circulate one copy for any final editing and for your initials. Okay?
SAM: Well done, folks!


Script – Flying Higher

Informal Mediation


“Flying Higher”

Initial Contact

Scene 1A


LEGAL: Well, that’s about it from our end. We’re ready to review the marketing plan with the artwork once we get it. And I guess that will be by a week from Friday?
LYNN: That’s what I hear too. All right with everyone?
SARAH: Absolutely, but I want to say again that we can’t get our design to Legal until we get the artwork from Communications.
[Camera catches Artie as his eyes roll, as if he is doing a slow burn inside.]
LYNN: That sounds like a question to Artie.
SARAH: Oh no, I’m not trying to single anyone out here. But I just think we all need to work together, hit our respective marks, get information to one another in a timely fashion, and get this to Legal.



ARTIE: Is that a reference to me? [Others collectively roll their eyes, with a nervous snicker or two, as if this is the tip of an angry iceberg.]
SARAH: Oh no, I just want to make sure we stay on track.
IT: I’m late to a conference call. Are we wrapped up here, Lynn?
LYNN: Sorry about the time. Yes, we’re wrapped up, see you all here next Wednesday at 8:00. [Artie gets up and out the door first, followed quickly by the others. Sarah sits in her chair with a rather dazed look as if to say: here we go again, Artie doesn’t get the point that he’s the big bottleneck here, and now he’s out of here, making a little joke as he goes. Give me a break!]


Scene 1B


SARAH: Lynn, got a minute?
LYNN: Sure.
SARAH: Can you believe what’s going on in there?
LYNN: [Stopping to look at her.] What do you mean?
SARAH: Artie will be the death of this project! He doesn’t get it. Legal reminds him of the deadline. I remind him of the deadline. I remind him of the teamwork. And he is still going to be late, and we’re not going to make our deadline. That’s the way he is.
LYNN: Have you said this to him?
SARAH: Yes. But he’s like a high school kid up with his art projects. He has no business sense.
LYNN: You feel you’re not getting through to him about what you need?
SARAH: Right.
LYNN: So, what’s next?



SARAH: I think you need to talk to him. Tell him that he’s the bottleneck, get him off dead center.
LYNN: If there’s a breakdown between the two of you, for whatever reason, why don’t we sit down together, the three of us? I clearly have a stake in our team’s mission, and cooperation between the two of you, but it’ll take the two of you to keep us on track. I’d be happy to facilitate such a meeting in my role as team leader.


Scene 1C


LYNN: [Sticking his head in Artie’s door.] Got a minute?
ARTIE: Sure.
LYNN: Sarah stopped me in the hall…
ARTIE: [Interrupting.] I can hear this coming.
LYNN: What do you mean?
ARTIE: I knew she was going to report me. She thinks I’m slowing this whole thing up.
LYNN: Tell me how you see it.
ARTIE: Everyone knows what’s going on. You saw how that meeting wrapped up. IT taking off to a phone call. No one wanted this thing to blow up right there on the spot.
LYNN: Well, I don’t think it needs to blow up, but I’ll bet it would be good if we could talk about it. Sarah did come to me and I suggested that the three of us sit down.
ARTIE: Like peace talks, huh?



LYNN: Well, maybe. I’m in on this thing too, but you two are closest to the action and have the real answers on what’s going on. I’m happy to chair a meeting and get the problem out on the table if that would help.
ARTIE: It probably would. You know, she’s got a mother complex or something. She’s all over us.
LYNN: Well, here’s my first tip: instead of calling her a mother, or accusing her of having a complex, talk about what she does, about the behavior, what has happened, and what has been a problem for each of you. Then I think we can create some solutions.
ARTIE: What’s the point of this? You’re the boss—why don’t you just tell us what you want and tell us to do it.



LYNN: Well, first of all, you two are the ones who have to make this project go. We’re more likely to succeed if the two of you can agree on a plan. Second, since you know more about the project, you’ll probably have a better idea about how to solve the problem. If you two can’t work it out, I may have to make some decisions and I’d rather not be placed in that role.
ARTIE: Okay, okay.
LYNN: Let’s take a minute and talk about how you see the problem, and what you need and how the meeting might go.


Opening Meeting


LYNN: I offered to chair the meeting to help the communication along, to see if we can’t get to the heart of what each of you needs, and what you can do next. I’ve already had brief private meetings with each of you to get a better handle on the problem. Okay, Sarah, you identified the problem. May I ask you to start? How do you see this thing?



Scene Flip


SARAH: [Looking at Lynn.] The Communications Department holds the timetable for this project in its hands. If the artwork doesn’t reach us in a timely manner, and it hasn’t, and if the requirements specified in the beginning are not represented in the product, and they have not been, then we will not make our deadline, and the project will fail.
LYNN: By the Communications Department, I assume you mean Artie and his team?
LYNN: Well, here he is.
ARTIE: Well, but it’s not as simple as you say.
SARAH: How so?
ARTIE: One of my people gave me your emails on the changes. They came so late, and they added so many new requirements, that there’s no way we could have made your deadlines. We had six hours of meetings just trying to figure out what else you wanted.
SARAH: Come on, Artie. We talked about that. You asked me to send those emails.
ARTIE: Yes, but just to confirm the first change, not to add new requirements.


Scene Flip


LYNN: So, you’ve each got a short list of pretty important things that caused you trouble. Artie, you’ve talked about the added requirements that came in the emails, which, as you describe it, slowed you down. And Sarah, you’ve pointed to the fact that the delay hurt you, and just as important, that the product didn’t meet your original specifications.
SARAH AND ARTIE: [Both say, “right” and nod.]
LYNN: Let’s see if we’ve got it all. Are there any other events from the past that have been a problem, and if so, let’s get them on the table right now.
ARTIE: All right, I don’t want to get too personal here, Sarah, but sometimes you get pretty bossy…
SARAH: [Interrupting.] Aw, come on Artie. What am I supposed to do when you continually miss deadlines?
ARTIE: There you again. You’re throwing it back on me.
LYNN: Hey, let’s do the same with this topic that we did with the other one. Specifically, what behavior from Sarah gives you trouble, so much so that you label it as “bossy?”
ARTIE: Well, Sarah, here’s an example…


Scene Flip


LYNN: Now I think we’re getting somewhere. You both talked about the past. Let’s talk about what you do from here. You each had several ideas about how to fix this thing.
SARAH: All right, Artie, let’s see if this’ll work. You’re really close on the final product. I just need assurance that I can get a draft at least by Friday.



ARTIE: We can do that, but here’s what I’ll need. Can your team put its blessing on the existing requirements at least by tomorrow morning, so we know there’s nothing new we need to add?
SARAH: Sure.
LYNN: How about the drawings that Sarah felt were subpar?
ARTIE: Now that I know what her concern is, that’s easy to fix. And, I have to admit, this talk is helping.
SARAH: You know the stress of all this, I think, has brought the worst out of both of us.




LYNN: Can one of you summarize what you each will do from now on?
SARAH: Sure. I’m gonna meet with my team today and confirm that there are no new requirements and give you an immediate yes or no on the sketch dated last Thursday.
ARTIE: And I’ll receive that by tomorrow noon and deliver the final drawings by no later than Friday. We’ve agreed to talk directly with one another about these changes, instead of shooting off emails. Right?
SARAH: Right.
LYNN: All right, you know there’s one thing we left out. How about your teams?
ARTIE: Good point. I’ll need to bring my folks in the loop.
SARAH: Me too. May I tell them about this conversation, and some of the details?
ARTIE: Fine with me.



LYNN: I think we’re both on track. Have we got it? (Nod in agreement.) Since I’m on the line for this, I’ll draft notes on these steps and circulate it for each of you to review. And I’ll follow up with you in a week to make sure we’re on schedule.
[Artie extends hand and he and Sarah shake hands.]

C – 24


Serenity Prayer


Serenity Prayer
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

(short version)


God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.


Serenity Prayer
Reinhold Niebuhr (1892-1971)

(long version)


God grant me the serenity
to accept the things I cannot change;
courage to change the things I can;
and wisdom to know the difference.

Living one day at a time;
enjoying one moment at a time;
accepting hardships as the pathway to peace;
taking, as He did, this sinful world
as it is, not as I would have it;
trusting that He will make all things right
if I surrender to His Will;
that I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him
forever in the next.




C – 25


Standard Solutions


Experience with conflict resolution suggests that parties often need one or more of the following Standard Solutions in order to reach an agreement or a settlement with the other side, or to achieve true “transformation” of a relationship.


  1. Acknowledgement/Apology/Repentance


In some situations, one or more parties needs to have the other person acknowledge a wrong done or a harm committed through certain behavior. Others will be helped by an apology. In some cases, the behavior reflects a pattern that will require repentance of not only this wrong, but the pattern of wrongdoing, and the commitment to make a 180° turnaround toward new behavior in the future.


  1. Restitution/Punishment

Some conflicts require restitution for past wrongs. In the area of personal injury, for example, this might involve paying for medical expenses or lost wages. In other situations, a person will seek “punitive damages” which often is a reflection of their desire to make sure the other side “gets the point and makes the change.” Parties may negotiate a punishment dimension such as a monetary fine or incarceration as a part of an integrative solution.


  1. Plan for the Future [Corrective Action]


Many aggrieved parties are deeply concerned that there not be a repeat offense or that others not suffer the way they have. In these cases, the standard solution focuses on action that can be taken by one or more parties to change organizational procedures or personal behavior to prevent future occurrences of wrongdoing or incidents that cause damage.


  1. Forgiveness

A conscious decision to release feelings of resentment or desire to return harm to a person who has caused offense, forgiveness is often the single most important factor in achieving closure, if not inner peace, in ending a dispute. Forgiveness can be offered and received, with or without the other three Standard Solutions in place.




C – 26


The 12 Steps



The “Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous (AA)” provide a unique example of the Standard Solutions applied to making amends in relationships damaged by alcohol and drug abuse. Here is a brief list of links between AA’s Twelve Steps and the Standard Solutions:


  • Acknowledgement (the first standard solution) occurs in AA’s Steps 1, 2, and 5.


  • Restitution occurs in Steps 4, 8, and 9.


  • Corrective action occurs in Steps 3, 6, 7, 10, 11, and 12.


  • Forgiveness is addressed in the narrative describing Steps 4, 5, 10, and the books, Alcoholics Anonymous, and Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions.


The Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous


  1. We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our lives had become unmanageable.


  1. Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.


  1. Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.


  1. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.


  1. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.


  1. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.


  1. Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.


  1. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all.


  1. Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.


  1. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.


  1. Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God, as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.


  1. Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these Steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.

C – 27


The Two-Track Model of Attorney Representation



Part D:




  1. Guiding Principles


  1. Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)


  1.  About the Authors



D – 1


Guiding Principles


Blue Lion Conflict Solutions acknowledges the following guiding principles for conflict resolution in everyday life:


Conflict Exists: Whether in the form of a minor disagreement between two people or a major dispute between groups, conflict is predictably present in homes, work, and community settings.


Multiple Causes: In any given situation, a conflict can have multiple causes (e.g., communication breakdown, fear, lack of negotiation skill, etc.).


Danger and Opportunity: Like crisis, any conflict has the potential for good or bad outcomes (broken relationships or growth); more precisely, how conflicts are addressed can spell the difference in parties’ achieving a sense justice, peace, and healing, or not.


Four Ways to Resolve Conflict: See Figure 1.



Figure 1

Four Ways to Resolve Conflict


Higher Authority
Power Plays
Take No Action ·   Individual Initiative

·   Negotiation

·   Mediation

· Chain of Command

· Arbitration

· Litigation

·   Strikes

·   Violence

·   Verbal/ Written/ Physical Combat


The Preferred Pathbehavioral science best practice suggests that in order to preserve relationships and encourage growth of individuals and organizations, “collaborative” methods (direct conversation and/or facilitated/mediated conversation) should precede “higher authority” methods.


Standard Solutions: Experience suggests that parties in conflict desire one or more of the following Standard Solutions, delivered to them by a perceived opponent, or offered by them to another person or group, in order to achieve healing, a sense that justice has been served, and Reconciliation with former opponents/enemies: acknowledgment/ apology/repentance; restitution; plan for the future [corrective action]; and forgiveness.



D – 2


Frequently Asked Questions



Does using this model require the participation of all parties?


No. The model is based on the premise that even one party following the Preferred Path can make a significant difference in the outcomes of communication, consensus building, and conflict resolution events.


You can use this model unilaterally as a guide for your own behavior; or invite others, even opponents, to use it with you.


What does it mean to “convene your case for mediation?”


It is not uncommon for the resolution process to derail over arguments about whether or not to use a mediator. Convening is intended to address this problem. Any party can call to request that a convener contact all parties to explain options for facilitation/mediation, help find a mutually agreeable person, and assist with scheduling and follow up. The first party pays only their share of an administrative fee.


How does a mediator make a difference?


Mediation is an assisted negotiation. If, for any reason, the parties have failed to resolve an issue, or if one or more is fearful about walking into difficult territory, the mediator can serve as a buffer, guide, and sometimes coach. Mediators typically use both private and joint meetings to help parties unbundle issues, listen to one another, and create Integrative Solutions.


Can the Preferred Path prevent lawsuits?


Yes. Steps 1-4 are intended to help resolve differences without litigation through the courts.


Is there an arbitration requirement in the Preferred Path?


No. Parties may agree to use arbitration as a method in Step 5 Higher Authority.


Does using this program take away rights to go to court?


No. Any party not satisfied with the outcome of a negotiation or mediation (Steps 3 and 4, respectively) retains the right to pursue the matter through the courts in Step 5.


What is the role of attorneys in the Preferred Path?


Parties need to know about their legal rights when involved in a conflict involving another person or group. However, sometimes even hearing that someone has “consulted an attorney” can conjure up the threat of litigation and lead to parties ending direct communication at the time when it might be most beneficial.


The Two-Track Model of Attorney Representation is designed to solve this problem. Parties can engage “Track 1 attorneys” to represent them for negotiation and mediation (Steps 1-4 of the Preferred Path, collaborative processes), and use their respective “Track 2 attorneys” if the case proceeds to litigation (Step 5 on the Preferred Path). For more information, visit




D – 3


About the Authors



Karl A. Slaikeu, Ph.D., an internationally recognized psychologist, mediator and author, is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (B.A), Princeton Theological Seminary (M.Div.), and the State University of New York at Buffalo (M.A., Ph.D.). The author numerous books and professional articles, Karl has over three decades’ experience in mediating family, organizational and faith-based disputes.


His model for psychological first aid has been translated into thirty-two languages for use by the American Red Cross to help earthquake and tsunami survivors in Central America and Asia.


In 2009-10 Karl served as a Sr. Social Scientist with the US Army in Afghanistan, where he interviewed villagers and helped Coalition Forces adjust stability operations to address needs of the local population.


Formerly he held a tenured faculty position in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina and taught in the Department of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin.


In addition to teaching Negotiation and Mediation in the Naveen Jindal School of Management, the University of Texas at Dallas, he serves as Chairman and CEO of Blue Lion Conflict Solutions, LLC (Austin, TX).


Diane W. Slaikeu, J.D., an attorney, mediator, and educator, is a graduate of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln (B.S.), and the University of Texas School of Law (J.D.).


Her professional experience includes legal work in the Texas and South Carolina state legislatures, and partnership in a civil litigation law firm, followed by independent practice devoted exclusively to negotiation and mediation.


Diane has extensive experience as a trainer in communication and mediation skills for managers and in-house dispute resolution specialists.  A member of the State Bar of Texas and the South Carolina Bar Association, she has served as adjunct faculty at Abilene Christian University, Austin Presbyterian Theological Seminary, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Pepperdine University School of Law.