The Power of Civility

People across the United States believe there is too much incivility in our culture. This has been true for several years, predating the 2016 election, believe it or not. The PR firm Weber Shandwick has been surveying Americans about civility annually since 2010. Over the years, they have consistently found that more than 60% of Americans surveyed believe that a lack of civility in society is a major problem.

In the executive summary for the 2011 report, they state,

Civility, and the lack of it, in America begs greater understanding of how Americans’ lives are impacted and how Americans can take more responsibility for their communications and interactions online and offline.

Civility @ Work - A Ray of Hope

Civility in the workplace, the focus of their 2018 survey, was found to be a “ray of hope:” A similar proportion of people who consider incivility to be a problem also report that their workplaces tend to be more civil than uncivil. In fact, Weber Shandwick...

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Emotional Employee Got You Stressed?

This morning, I went to a local chapter of SHRM - that’s the Society for Human Resource Management. I had the opportunity to brainstorm how to handle it when an employee responds “very emotionally” during performance reviews, with “very emotionally” explained as “anger, tears, shouting, etc.”

My small group had experience in all aspects of human resource management, so we pooled our best advice; here it is!

pink-postcard-angry-employee.jpg
 

“Anger, tears, shouting…”

Definitely a stressful situation! An employee reacts very emotionally when given performance feedback. What to do?

Give Performance Feedback Often

Assuming the performance feedback was given during a formal evaluation, the first thing to understand is that nothing in a formal evaluation should be a surprise. Ideally, we all work with supervisors who let us know how we’re doing frequently, and talk to us as soon as problems arise.

Typically, managers...

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Research on Familiarity with Mediation and Facilitation

Do you work in a business with fewer than 250 employees in Northern Virginia? I invite you to take my current survey, Research on Familiarity with Mediation and Facilitation.

I’ve found that people who work in the legal system are usually familiar with mediation, but most people are not certain what it is. Or, they think it’s something that can be used to resolve amicable divorces, and not much else. However mediation can be used to resolve many workplace issues, and for a lower cost than alternative solutions like hiring a business coach, firing an employee, or ignoring the conflict.

Facilitation presents a somewhat different problem: People who know what it is, but haven’t experienced really great facilitation or are extra budget-conscious, believe it’s not truly necessary for their own meetings or planning processes. The word facilitation simply means the process of making something easier. Meeting facilitation has many forms. Most professional...

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Happiness and Conflict at Work

Often when we are faced with a conflict, happiness is not what we feel. We may feel angry, frustrated, sad, disappointed, upset, furious, or other negative emotions, or some combination of many negative emotions. Perhaps the “best” emotion we experience in the midst of an argument is something along the lines of,

“Hah! I’m winning!”

…Well, that’s a kind of satisfaction, but it is probably not the same happy, contented feeling you get when you are laughing with loved ones, for example, or even while collaborating in a positive, team atmosphere at work, school, or while volunteering.

Yet conflict and happiness are not necessarily polar opposites.

Scientists have spent decades studying what happiness is, the effects of happiness and pro-social emotions and actions, and how we can have happier lives. According to researchers Emiliana Simon-Thomas and Dacher Keltner, what happiness looks like at work will include moments of laughter and joy,...

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Mediator Tips: Active Listening

Listening is a magnetic and strange thing, a creative force. The friends who listen to us are the ones we move toward, and we want to sit in their radius. When we are listened to, it creates us, makes us unfold and expand.

Psychiatrist Karl Menninger, 1893-1990

Recently, I’ve spoken to several small business owners, salespeople, and fellow mediators and professional facilitators about how the skills used in mediation translate to so many other arenas of life. The most important one, I think, is listening well. Great listening skills can help pretty much all the time: at work, in friendships, while parenting kids of any age, and when talking to neighbors, clients, friends, loved ones… pretty much anyone.

We all have a basic need to be listened to, to be understood. Listening to understand helps you comprehend, sympathize, and identify with the other person. In conflicts, and often throughout life, only when a person feels that their story (or point of view) has been ...

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Mediation: Voluntary Really Means Voluntary

Mediation is a voluntary process for parties and mediators. Yes, you read that right. Mediators have an ethical responsibility to ensure all parties feel equally able to negotiate, and the parties do so in good faith. If a mediator has any doubt, they ought to end the mediation.

You may be thinking “But I’m paying you!” Yes, you are. You’re paying for the services of a mediation session (or sessions). As a trained professional mediator, my expertise includes paying attention to the parties and their ability to represent themselves in the process and negotiate on equal (or near-equal) footing. My expertise also includes making ethical determinations about whether the parties are operating in good faith.

The flip side of this is that any time a party feels uncomfortable, they have the right to end the mediation as well. Of course, feeling uncomfortable can happen for a great variety of reasons, and mediators will try to feel you out – usually one-on-one...

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Gratitude at Work

It’s November, so you may have seen friends posting “I am thankful for…” daily posts on your favorite social media platform. Perhaps you do it yourself. Perhaps you think it’s appropriate around Thanksgiving, and it’s a touching, positive practice. Or, perhaps you think it’s just a schmaltzy, boring, or useless practice – one that has no place in your life.

The truth is, expressing gratitude has been correlated with a host of benefits – most notably, people who express gratitude tend to be happier, healthier, and less stressed. The field of positive psychology has found many reasons people should practice gratitude, and many ways to practice gratitude.

But all of this is about your personal life, right? Wrong! Imagine if you had a less stressed-out workplace, with healthier coworkers who were generally happier than they are now. Gratitude may be the key!

In the workplace, gratitude practices can include:

  • Give gifts in person.

    ...
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Mediate. Facilitate. Vote.

core beliefs voting Nov 03, 2018

I believe in the power of story-telling and listening. Stories are a natural, influential way to communicate. Of course, when stories are not listened to - not paid attention to - not understood, they lose their power. Listening with an open mind is a necessary partner to story-telling.

I also believe in a representative democracy, like the United States where we’re based and where I have always lived. An essential building block of representative democracies is that the best policies are created when everyone has a say in who leads the government.

Politics is an essential part of governing, because of the nature of our democratic society. If politics is all about elections, then it’s all about who is in charge of every law and regulation, from Social Security to the presence of a stop sign on your corner.

In both mediation and facilitation, listening is a core component to success - and a necessary input toward a resolution. In our society, voting is the main way...

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The Power of Graphic Facilitation

On Friday morning, I spent nearly 3 solid hours drawing. On my feet. With fancy markers. This is not my normal.

I’m a word person. I’m into language and reading. In my spare time I love crosswords and even word search puzzles. I rarely draw. And these days I’m also rarely on my feet for three hours unless I’m the one running a workshop!

So what was going on Friday morning? The Mid-Atlantic Facilitation Network’s workshop, Drawing for Graphic Facilitation, by Brian Tarallo of Lizard Brain Solutions. When you teach, it’s important to get people to do what they’re learning so they retain it. So, shortly after introductions, Brian got us all up and drawing - stick figures, symbols, shapes, connectors, callouts, containers, and more. Trust me, it was not high art… for most of us, anyway!

The first thing we did was draw a symbol that captured how we approach facilitation. Being forced to draw, in one minute, in a tiny space, this is what...

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