Category Archives: workplace conflict

Compassion as an innate human capacity

In the video below, Emma Seppala, Associate Director at the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education at Stanford University reviews some of the latest scientific research on compassion at the Empathy in Society Conference last October in London.

Among the major points she touches on are:

  • measuring the real life impact of compassion interventions on subsequent behaviour;
  • compassion as an evolutionary adaptive development;
  • the incompleteness of the economic model of agents informed by rational self-interest; and
  • applications of compassion development and interventions in the work place.
(Hat-tip: Dorothy Della Noce)

Opening statements by the mediator

It’s important in the mediation process, irrespective of the model, for the mediator to explain how she works in an opening statement. There are two reasons for this: participants have a right to know what to expect from the mediator and how the process will unfold; and, participants have a right to make an informed decision on whether the process will be helpful to them.

In the transformative framework, we believe that the opening statement says it all. The mediator opens a session by outlining the process as a conversation between the participants that is completely controlled by them. She also explains how she will support the participants in their conversation, in their deliberation about what they’re hearing in the conversation, and in their decisions. Then it becomes all the more essential that the mediator act in a manner entirely consistent with her explanation.

In the video below, [Editor: The video is being updated and will be replaced shortly.]  highly proficient Quebec mediator, John Peter Weldon, explains what the process will be like in a workplace setting. Note his conversational approach, his emphasis on participant control of the process, how he will support them equally in gaining clarity about the situation and about what they hear in the conversation:

What does on-line transformative mediation look like?

Giuseppe Leone

Giuseppe Leone is a mediator based in Hawaii who founded the, a pilot project sponsored by the Hawaii chapter of the Association for Conflict Resolution.  The project’s objectives are to help mediators wherever they are located to practise and develop their skills, and to learn how to mediate on-line using Skype™as a platform.

In the video of a role play below, Dan Simon, a certified Transformative Mediator™, supports people in their conversation about alleged gender discrimination in the workplace.  The role play itself runs for the first 47 minutes or so; the rest of the recording is devoted to a debrief led by Giuseppe of what happened in the mediation, how it was experienced by the role players, and where the main differences lie between the transformative model and the prevalent interest-based model: Recognized for Excellence as Problem Solver

The American Bar Association (ABA) has announced that is the recipient of its 2010 Lawyer as Problem Solver Award.

In granting this prestigious award, the ABA stated: has been at the forefront of making the power of the Internet accessible to lawyers, mediators and dispute resolution practitioners. has been developing digital products and resources that have advanced the presence and depth of the field of dispute resolution in immeasurable ways and fundamentally altered the practice of mediation by making online strategies practical and available. offers the field one of the most used information resources, replete with blogs, cutting edge articles, news of mediation and negotiation practice, as well as a place for interactive dialogue. The website is a practical tool for practitioners and helps them become more effective problem solvers.

“ applies the technology of the internet directly to lawyers and dispute resolution practitioners. The founders of had the foresight to see the importance and applications of the Internet and bring them to bear on a developing field of practice. This groundbreaking website has given tools and resources to the public and to ADR professionals to do their own problem solving in virtually every field of law.

Hear, hear!

‘Speaking Truth to Power’

Berrett-Koehler Publishers has a blog devoted to lists, as they say, “on just about everything that matters, by authors who know…”.  Just the other day, the blog drew on the thinking of Ira Chaleff, who works on the other side of Leadership, namely Followership.

Chaleff  “believes that part of being a good follower, and a hallmark of true followership, is to stand up and challenge our leaders when we disagree with their principles, motivations, or actions.”

Here’s the list of five good reasons to challenge the hierarchy, or to ‘speak truth to power’: Continue reading

Acting like the Boss

I’ve just come across an interesting post on bosses published a couple of weeks ago at the blog, Weird Things.

A study by social psychologists at the University of California not only confirms the axiom that talking like a leader makes you seem like one in people’s eyes, but proves that the more dominating your personality, the easier it is to get away with incompetence. By taking a group of people and presenting them with challenges, the researchers tried to evaluate what makes someone a leader. The study’s participants generally tended to assign leadership roles and favorable ratings to people who spoke the most and seemed the most confident with little regard for the quality of their answers and suggestions.

When solving math problems from an old GMAT test, the same highly thought of leaders were the ones who gave the most answers, not the ones who gave the right answers. . .Participants gave any person who spoke up a higher rating than those who were quiet, even if these people said little or nothing of substance. [. . .] Continue reading

Transit Strike Over – Nagging Questions Remain

(l. to r.) ATU local 170 president André Cornellier, international ATU vice president Randy Graham, Ottawa mayor Larry OBrien

(l. to r.) Amalgamated Transit Union local 170 president André Cornellier, international ATU vice president Randy Graham, Ottawa mayor Larry O'Brien

Fifty-one days after it began, a public transit strike in Ottawa has ended.  Or at least will end in all likelihood after City Council and union membership endorse an agreement worked out by management and labour yesterday after five hours of talks.  The agreement sends all outstanding issues to binding arbitration with both sides’ having dropped their pre-conditions for such a course of action.  This is exactly what federal mediators had proposed to both sides on the very first day of the strike some seven weeks ago.  The agreement was only reached after the federal Minister of Labour had prepared emergency back-to-work legislation that she was to introduce in Parliament last evening. Continue reading