Transition Tools

 

 

 

Blue Lion©

Handbook

 

Online Version

 

 

Communicating,

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

Email: karls@bluelioncs.com


Welcome

Part A:

Introduction

Who, Why, and What?

How?

When?

Where?

Work

At Home

Other Circumstances

Part B:

A Closer Look at the Preferred Path Steps

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 Toolkit

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

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

Conflict Grid

3.

·      To avoid risk

·      To have greater responsibility

Standard BATNAs

Conflict Resolution Options

Decision Making: Three Types

Definitions

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

Readings

Reconciliation

Responding to a Concern

Scripts

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

Mediation

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

Part D:

Appendices

Guiding Principles

Frequently Asked Questions

About the Authors


Welcome

 

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:

Introduction

 

 

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.

 


How?

 

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.

 

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

 

b.     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.

 

c.     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.

 

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

 

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

 



When?

 

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.


Where?

 

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

 

Work

 

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.

 

 

 


 

 


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.

 

·      Goals

·      Examples

·      Meditations

·      Tools

·      Questions

·      Checklist

 

 


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.

 

2.     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.


3.     For each party, what do I know so far about this person’s:

 

a.     Key interests (matters of the heart)?

 

b.     Facts that he or she will likely bring to the table (a window into how this person views the situation)?

c.     Best alternative to a negotiated agreement (or BATNA, which means what this person will likely do if a collaborative resolution is not reached)?

 

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

 

4.     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?

 

a.     Acknowledgement/Apology/Repentance?

b.     Restitution?

c.     Plan for the Future/Preparation?

d.     Forgiveness?

 

5.     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.).

 

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

 

3.     Imagine the situation, and the people.

 

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

 

5.     As needed, focus again on breathing deeply.

 

6.     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.

 

7.     Do this for each party.

 

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

 

9.     Slowly open your eyes.

 

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

 

11.  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:

 

·       Conflict Resolution Options

·       The Conflict Grid


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.

 

2.     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?

 

o

 

2.

 

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

 

o

 

3.

 

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.

 

·      Goals

·      Examples

·      Meditations

·      Tools

·      Questions

·      Checklist

 


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”).

 

2.     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.)

 

3.     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.).

 

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

 

3.     Imagine the situation, and the people.

 

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

 

5.     As needed, focus again on breathing deeply.

 

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

 

7.     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.”

 

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

 

9.     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].

 

10.  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.

 

2.     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?

 

o

 

2.

 

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

 

o

 

3.

 

 

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.

 

·       Initiating a Concern/Complaint

·       Responding to a Concern/Complaint

 

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.

 

·      Goals

·      Examples

·      Meditations

·      Tools

·      Questions

·      Checklist

 

 


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.).

 

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

 

3.     Imagine the situation, and the people.

 

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

 

5.     Focus again on breathing deeply.

 

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

 

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

 

 

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

 

9.     Picture this going very well.

 

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

 

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

 

12.  Make notes for use in the next step.

 

 


Step 3 Tools

 

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

 

·       Communication Skills

·       Standard Solutions

·       Initiating a Concern

·       Negotiation Steps

·       Responding to a Concern

 


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.

 

2.     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?

 

o

 

2.

 

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?

 

o

 

3.

 

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

 

 

o

 

a.

 

Precipitating event for this conversation?

 

 

o

 

b.

 

Our perceptions of fault? Damages?

 

 

o

 

c.

 

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

 

 

o

 

d.

 

Standard Solutions?

 

 

o

 

e.

 

Integrative Solutions, including plans for follow-up?

 

o

 

4.

 

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.

 

·      Goals

·      Examples

·      Meditations

·      Tools

·      Questions

·      Checklist

 


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.).

 

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

 

3.     Imagine the situation, and the people.

 

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

 

5.     As needed, focus again on breathing deeply.

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

11.  Make notes for use in the next step.

 

 

 


Step 4 Tools

 

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

 

·       Decision Making: Three Types

·       Facilitation/Informal Mediation

·       Standard Solutions

·       How to Lead a Meeting

·       Interpersonal Peacemaking

·       Integrative Solutions

·       Initiating a Concern

·       Mediation Rules

·       Mediation Steps


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.

 

2.     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.

 

3.     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?

 

o

 

2.

 

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

 

o

 

3.

 

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.

 

·      Goals

·      Examples

·      Meditations

·      Tools

·      Questions

·      Checklist

 

 

 


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).

 

2.     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.

 

3.     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:

 

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

 

5.     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.).

 

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

 

3.     Imagine the situation, and the people.

 

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

 

5.     As needed, focus again on breathing deeply.

 

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

 

7.     Imagine others speaking, and you listening calmly.

 

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

 

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

 

10.  Picture this going very well.

 

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

 

12.  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:

 

·       Decision Making: Three Types

·       Integrative Solutions

·       Two-Track Model of Attorney Representation


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).

 

2.     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?

 

o

 

2.

 

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

 

o

 

3.

 

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.]

 

o

 

4.

 

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).

 


 

 

o

 

5.

 

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?

 

o

 

6.

 

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

 

o

 

7.

 

Am I aware of the appeals process for higher authority?

 

o

 

8.

 

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:

 

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

 

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

 

c.     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.

 

·      Goals

·      Examples

·      Meditations

·      Tools

·      Questions

·      Checklist

 


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.

 

2.     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).

 

3.     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.


 

4.     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.).

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

5.     As needed, focus again on breathing deeply.

 

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

 

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

 

8.     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:

 

·       Conflict Grid

·       Conflict Resolution Options

·       The Two-Track Model of Attorney Representation


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.

 

2.     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.”


 

3.     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.

 

4.     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?

 

o

 

2.

 

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?

 

o

 

3.

 

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

 

o

 

4.

 

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