Facilitator Tips

I recently came across Penn State's website and when searching "conflict resolution", I found this gem of a page.

It gives various tips and questions to consider when issues arise within a working group/team. The tips listed are easily transferable for a facilitator who is planning to bring a group together.

The set up is broken down into seven sections:

I Conflict Happens
II Clarify Expectations
III Types of Conflicts
IV Identify Team Needs
V Depersonalize Conflict
VI Structuring Discussion
VII Key Questions

A brief look into each section gives shows there is valuable information for all conflict resolvers:

I Conflict Happens
Most members of a team have to learn two fundamentals:
1. Having different opinions is one of the essential benefits of teamwork.
2. Team members have strong feelings and emotions. A team cannot achieve its full potential if all that is allowed is logic or information.

II Clarify Expectations
Stating expectations clearly will give the team a common ground to begin any discussion. Some ways to clarifying expectations include:
1. Developing a clear statement of team mission or purpose
Ground rules governing participation, sharing of responsibilities
3. Agreement to
depersonalize conflicts

III Types of Conflicts
Internal conflict - An individual or team member is experiencing a personal conflict that may or may not be related to the team, but which is interfering with the person's ability to perform.
Individual conflict with one other team member - One team member is in conflict with another
Individual conflict with the entire team - One team member is experiencing conflict with the entire team

IV Identify Team Needs
Define the team's problem as a shared need. As a group:
1. Identify the causes.
2. Determine the criteria for a solution.Generate options.

V Depersonalize Conflict
During the problem-solving phase focus on issues not personalities. Use these guidelines to help depersonalize conflicts.
1. Encourage each side to objectively explain his or her bottom line requirements. When the team is determining a solution, each person's criteria should be evaluated.
2. Remind the team of ground rules while generating options such as "no criticizing statements by other people until all ideas are posted."

VI Structuring Discussion
Here is a structured way to handle conflicts:
1. Let each person state his or her view briefly.
2. Have neutral team members reflect on areas of agreement or disagreement.
3. Explore areas of disagreement for specific issues.

VII Key Questions
Questions that can help teams work through conflict:
1. What are we supposed to accomplish as a team?
2. What are each of our roles and responsibilities in accomplishing that goal?
3. Who and when do each of us need to get information from?

Again, the list above is not complete- it is just a short version. It you find it useful, click this [link] to read them all. If you are asking why not put the full list? The answer is basic web etiquette- not cutting and pasting someone else's entire work but rather displaying only a portion and linking to the original source.
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[part II] Come Join Me... In Australia!

I have another speaking engagement in Australia next Tuesday. Special thanks to Bee Chen for including me.

When: Tuesday, October 6th
Where: Library Meeting Room, Robina Community Center
Time: 2-4pm
Community Peace Program
"Communities desire peace and happiness. It is important to learn about understanding each other and managing conflicts, in order to improve neighbourly relations.

In this Program, Professor Bee Chen Goh, Professor of Law of the School of Law & Justice and Co-Director of the Centre for Peace and Social Justice at Southern Cross University and Adjunct Professor of Law at Bond University, leads a dialogue on cross-cultural peace building.

Special guests of this Program are Acting Senior Sergeant Holly James, Regional Crime Prevention Coordinator/Cultural Liaison Officer, Queensland Police Service and Jeff Thompson, Community Affairs Bureau Detective from the New York City Police Department (NYPD).

Spread the word and bring a few friends to help spread peace. All are welcome. Free admission.

This Program is funded by the Legal Practitioner Interest on Trust Accounts Fund (LPITAF) Grants Fund, administered by the Department of Justice and Attorney-General of Queensland.

For enquiries, please contact Benedict Coyne,email:
b.coyne.11@scu.edu.au mob: 0434915713
read more "[part II] Come Join Me... In Australia!"

Page Removed

This page has been removed.

Have you seen my twitter account?

Check it out here: @MediatorJeff

Also, have a look at this great site of mine on body language and nonverbal communication here:

and on twitter here: @NonverbalPhD
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Join Me... In Australia!

For those readers in Australia, come join me (see below).

When: September 28th, 2009
Where: Harvard Room 1, Southern Cross University, Tweed Heads, NSW
Time: 1-2 pm
"I Love Mediating in NY"
Come join us to hear Jeff Thompson- NYPD Detective, Mediator & Conflict Resolver- talk about how he is using communication to promote understanding & peace in New York.
read more "Join Me... In Australia!"

NYC-DR Roundtable Recap, September 2009

For those who miss the monthly NYC-DR Roundtable Breakfast meetings sponsored by ACRGNY and John Jay College due to schedules (yes, we are all very busy conflict resolvers) or due to locations (I guess everyone can not be in New York City), I plan to write a recap of each gathering I attend.

You can join the listserv by clicking [here].

Note 1: this is not an official recap nor is it intended to be one but rather it is just a posting of my notes and recollection from the day.

Note #2: For this month I credit Maria Volpe for contributing to this recap as well as editing it...


I hope you enjoy and feedback is always welcome!

Scott Gassman, 9/11 survivor of World Trade Center Tower One, spoke at the September 3rd monthly NYC-DR Round table. From the bio sent with the announcement about the Roundtable, we learned this about Scott:

Scott Gassman coaches, trains, facilitates, and manages projects for individual, team, and enterprise-wide initiatives. Scott’s consulting firm, IdeaJuice focuses on strengthening executive and team effectiveness, improving productivity and service, designing change or transition initiatives, engaging the whole workforce, maximizing meeting value, and building learning strategies.

IdeaJuice client roster includes Amalgamated Life Insurance, America Speaks, Philip Morris, G2, Ninth House Network, US Fund for UNICEF, Homeland Security, Eastern Management Development Center and NHCG. Scott facilitated at: California Speaks, the National Emergency Medical Services (EMS) Preparedness Initiative with the EMS Operational Chiefs from America’s fifty largest cities; at the first Governor sponsored Louisiana Recovery and Rebuilding Conference and at Seaport Speaks, to plan the NYC Seaport’s next 100 years.

Scott Gassman is an Adjunct Faculty member at Milano the New School for Management and Urban Policy. His current research focuses on workplace engagement strategies, disaster facilitation and large group methodologies. Scott reviews business development manuscripts for Berrett-Koehler Publishers, Inc. and is the Co-Book Review Editor of the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) Journal. Formerly he launched on-line learning, blended training and virtual global collaboration as AVP of Organization Development and Interactive Media at Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield. He also produced the digital documentary From Recovery to Resilience, Empire's 9/11 Story.

- Scott spoke about 9/11 and its immediate effect on the company he was working for, Blue Cross/Blue Shield, which was located at 89-03 World Trade Center Tower #1.

- He asked us (the audience) to write our thoughts and feelings from 9/11 on small post-its, then asked us to stick them on the walls.

- We had a moment of silence for, as Scott stated, "Not just for those who were lost, but also for those who survived."

- Scott passed around numerous artifacts from 9/11, including a piece of steel from one of the towers that was given to his wife. She is a teacher and a FDNY fireman spoke to her students. After she told him about Scott being there, the fireman gave her the small piece of steel (about the size of a golf ball) and told her to give it to Scott.

- Also passed around was a glass desk type sculpture given to Scott by Blue Cross stating, "We Salute Your Courage, Honor Your Strength and Appreciate Your Dedication, from the "Board of Directors" dated 9-11-01.

-We watched an 18 minute film titled, “From Recovery to Resilience” on how the company continued to operate in the days after 9/11 because of planning, preparation and determination of the employees.

The film uniquely showed a different aspect of post 9/11- one where a company, as a whole, responded. The film showed, via first person narratives, all the different levels of response ranging from the roll over of computer servers, setting up temporary offices in Albany, rerouting the call center, the memorial service and the creation of “care” (not case) managers to assist the families.

- He introduced Maria to speak about how the NYC-DRC Breakfast group was formed since this month we celebrate the 8th anniversary of the meeting.

Maria shared how the Breakfast and listserv got started:

- The group first met on 9/20/01. Maria noted that she sent out emails to two national listservs to announce the breakfast. One of the most important needs discussed at the first Breakfast was the necessity to find a means of communicating with each other in the NYC area.

- The NYC-DR listserv was created on 9/27/01.

- There are currently over 1,570 people on the listserv.

- NYC-DR initiatives: Make Talk Work (24 book marks), International Make Talk Work Video contests (see here), and promotional giveaways ranging from tote bags to shirts. I did not check eBay for the shirts but I am sure they are the newest collectors items shattering auction records!

- I was not able to stick around for all the comments as I had to leave for a meeting.

Quote of the month:
"Connection before content.”
Scott said this was a principle he discussed with his company Idea Juice.

You can join the listserv by click [here].
read more "NYC-DR Roundtable Recap, September 2009"

Foreclosure Mediation Round-up

As foreclosure mediation become more and more prominent, I thought I would dedicate today's post to various, current, new articles.

Firstly, I would like to mention that tentatively an article of mine titled, Introduction to Foreclosure Mediation & Tips For The Mediator is set to be published in the California State Bar Association's magazine Trial Style. The article, as the title states, will be a brief introduction to the process and key terms a mediator should know and understand before venturing into this new field. Terms include: Reinstatement, Forbearance, Loan Modification, Reverse Mortgage and Short Sale among others.

The article includes tips on how to properly organize yourself as well as questions you might want to ask yourself when considering participating in a court connect foreclosure mediation program.

Onto the recent news:
When foreclosure looms, mediation offers lifeline
But court can’t help consumers who don’t seek the option.

Mediation could be a borrower’s last lifeline — negotiating revised loan terms and a household budget that could keep a family in its home. Another outcome could be to allow a borrower to walk away without ruined credit.

Jim Drubert, Montgomery County Court General Division administrator, said that despite dwindling resources and the recent retirement of the court’s only full-time mediator, an additional 50 foreclosure mediation cases could be handled.

Hall’s records show 62 cases directed to mediation by a judge. But of those, 40 home owners did not respond. Of the rest, 13 are pending mediation or in process, seven were settled with the lender prior to mediation or went to mediation, and two referrals were canceled.
Read the Full article [here]

Task Force Urges Foreclosure Mediation
MANATEE — Florida should require mediation between mortgage lenders and borrowers to help courts better manage the crush of foreclosure cases and improve borrowers’ chances of keeping their homes, a judicial task force is recommending.

...The task force did not say how much mediation would cost, but said lenders should foot the entire bill — a recommendation that exposed a division on the panel.

In a dissenting report, Haworth — joined by a circuit judge, a lawyer and a banker — argued that lenders won’t be able to afford to pay for tens of thousands of mediations and that non-indigent borrowers should pay half the cost as a matter of fairness.

Full article [here]

State (Nevada) closer to launching foreclosure mediation program
CARSON CITY – A mediation program to help stop the large number of foreclosures on Nevada homeowners should begin soon, a state official says.
Originally it was announced it would start in August but has been delayed to train the mediators. So far more than 450 requests for mediation from homeowners have been filed.

Full article [here]

Homeowners Avoiding State Foreclosure Mediation Program
The state’s hallmark foreclosure mediation program continues to have a high success rate for homeowners, but still relatively few people have chosen to participate in the program.
Statewide, 2,932 foreclosure mediation cases have been completed as of May 31, and of those 60 percent, or 1,771 cases, have reached a settlement that allows individuals and families to stay in their homes. Of those who stayed in their homes, 41 percent or 1,224 homeowners, received a loan modification from their lender, according to data from the state’s judicial department.
Full article [here]

Providence mayor signs rules to slow foreclosures
PROVIDENCE, R.I. — Providence Mayor David Cicilline has signed two city ordinances designed to protect tenants whose rental homes are foreclosed upon, and to banks to enter mediation before foreclosing upon homeowners.

Florida Court Wants Mandatory Mediation on Foreclosures
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. -- The Florida Supreme Court's residential foreclosure task force recommended Monday that all cases involving primary homes should be mediated and that judges should expedite cases dealing with vacant and abandoned properties.
The recommendations will go to the justices, who are looking for ways to help the court system cope with a flood of foreclosure cases caused by the national recession and Florida's housing bust. Florida has one of the nation's highest foreclosure rates. It was third at 3.4% behind Arizona and California in June.

Full article [here]
read more "Foreclosure Mediation Round-up"

Interview & 'Blog of the Month'

Los Angeles based mediator Steve Mehta, of the famous Mediation Matters Blog and the book 112 Ways to Succeed in Any Negotiation or Mediation, interviewed me while he was visiting New York City back in July. He somehow found the time to edit the interview (very brilliantly) and posted it on his blog to which I am gratefully appreciative of him for doing that. Have a look and I hope you enjoy it.

From his blog [

"Many of you may know Jeff Thompson from his fame on Newsweek recently. However, I knew him before he was interviewed on Newsweek. Luckily, I can say that I have gotten the first exclusive interview with Jeff while I was in New York last month. Jeff is a fascinating and charismatic individual and I thought you might like the interview. "

Today's second news item is I happened to come across www.MediationWorks.com and noticed at this link [here] that my blog is listed as their "Blog of The Month"!

Also, ever want to go on a cruise while learning mediation skills?

Don't we all?

Well, MTI has it all taken care with their 7th Annual Mediation At Sea program this November. Read more [here].


read more "Interview & 'Blog of the Month'"

NYPD Commissioner Kelly Encourages Mediation

Please read (and enjoy!) the following press release from the NYPD:

Police Officers Encouraged to use Mediation for Resolving Civilian Complaints
NYPD Supports Voluntary Mediation Efforts Between Civilians and Officers

Police Commissioner Raymond W. Kelly today urged uniformed members of the service to avail themselves of the Civilian Complaint Review Board mediation process as a non-disciplinary way to resolve complaints against them. Mediated complaints do not become part of an officer’s record.

“Since reinvigorating the program at CCRB’s request last year, the NYPD has encouraged more and more officers to resolve complaints against them by sitting down with their accusers. Both sides listen to each other, and more often than not the dispute is resolved with a handshake,” Commissioner Kelly said.

Last year 112 complaints were successfully resolved through mediation. Another 81 were similarly resolved so far this year.

All 36,000 uniformed members of the service received today with their pay stubs a brochure explaining the mediation process.

Many different types of complaints are appropriate for mediation. In general, any complaint that does not involve a pending criminal matter (including violations), physical injury, or property damage can be mediated.

Mediation consists of the officer, civilian and a trained mediator meeting to discuss the incident that led to the complaint.

The mediation is a confidential process. Everyone participating in the mediation, including the mediator, must sign a confidentiality agreement. An officer can bring an attorney or union representative to the CCRB office, but they are not permitted in the mediation session. The officer can, however stop the mediation at anytime to consult a representative or attorney.

Once the mediation is over, the case is closed and cannot be sent back for an investigation. The civilian complainant does have the right, during the mediation, to ask to end the mediation and have the complaint investigated, but this rarely happens as 98% of cases are resolved.

Mediations usually take about one hour, but the mediation will continue as long as the officer and complainant are making progress. The department does not consider mediated complaints when reviewing an officer’s employment history.

Below is an example of a mediation:

At 11:00 PM on a Monday in January last year, three musicians who had finished performing at a rock concert were driving their van slowly through Lower Manhattan while trying to find the Holland Tunnel. A marked police car containing three uniformed officers from the local Transit District stopped the van by cutting it off, and one of the officers issued the van’s driver a ticket for failing to use a turn signal properly when changing lanes.

According to the driver of the van, who later filed a complaint with the CCRB, the officers berated the three with rude statements throughout the stop, such as, “Are you a f-----g idiot?” When the driver apologized and asked what he had done wrong, an officer allegedly replied, “Don’t apologize, you’re so f-----g stupid.”

The driver stated that he felt threatened by the officers’ behavior and believed that the officers had singled them out because they were musicians with long hair. He also did not believe that he had changed lanes without using his turn signal.

After learning about both CCRB options -- investigation and mediation -- the driver of the van chose to resolve his CCRB complaint through mediation, explaining that he would pay his summons, but that he wanted to address what he saw as the officers’ inappropriate conduct.

Shortly thereafter, the driver of the van met all three officers for a mediation session at the CCRB’s offices with two trained mediators present. During the mediation session, the officers explained that they had stopped the van because it was driving erratically as the band members tried to find their way to the tunnel – starting and stopping, changing lanes without signaling and driving unusually slow.

The officers explained that they had not targeted the bandmates based upon their long hair – in fact, because it was dark they had not been able to see inside the van before they stopped it. One of the officers explained that when he signed up for the Police Academy, it was hard to cut off his own long hair. The officers also explained to the driver that, when they had tried to pull him over, he had nearly caused a collision between the two cars based upon his unpredictable

Although the driver had not been aware that he had been driving unsafely, he conceded that he may have done so due to his confusion. At the driver’s request, the officers then explained the safest ways to pull over if being stopped by the police.

In response to the driver’s statement that he felt threatened, the officers discussed the fact that car stops are one of the most dangerous situations for police officers. The officers asserted that they had treated the three sternly during the stop in order to maintain control over the situation. However, when the driver raised the issue of the officers’ insulting statements, the officers acknowledged that they had lost their tempers due to his driving, and recognized that many of their comments were inappropriate, and, in fact, unnecessary to maintain control of the situation.

The officers then apologized for their insulting statements. The musician accepted the officers’ explanation for their behavior and apology, and in turn apologized for his driving. The mediation session ended with a round of handshakes.

# # #
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Ombudsman Releases Workplace Guide

The Fair Work (Australia, www.FairWork.com.au) Ombudsman recently released a series of guides to best practices for improving workplace relations. [from the media release here]

Below, you will find a brief outline what the guide offers. Some very good stuff there that can help all ADR professionals- not just Ombudsmen.

Executive Director Michael Campbell says the guides will particularly benefit employers with limited workplace relations or human resource management experience.

“With this latest initiative, we have sought to explain in simple language the concepts of best practice in key areas which can promote harmonious, productive and co-operative workplaces,” Mr Campbell said.

The Fair Work Ombudsman’s Practice Guides cover the following topics:

1. Work & Family
Fostering a culture of workplace flexibility for family responsibilities can help to achieve a more productive work environment. From reduced absenteeism to improved job satisfaction, there are significant benefits for employees and employers in achieving a work and family balance.

2. Consultation & Co-operation in the Workplace
Best practice workplace consultation involves developing and implementing effective consultation mechanisms which encourage cooperation and the engagement of employees and management across the workplace. Employee involvement in decision-making regularly leads to benefits such as increased productivity and greater collaboration.

3. Individual Flexibility Arrangements (IFAs)
Flexible work practices can deliver benefits to both employers and employees. Individual flexibility arrangements can lead to greater job satisfaction and help attract and retain skilled and valuable staff. Flexibility in the workplace can also improve workplace productivity and efficiency by helping maintain a motivated workforce with reduced staff turnover and absenteeism.

4. A Guide for Young Workers
It can be an exciting time for a young person when they get their first job. Knowing and understanding their workplace obligations and entitlements can assist young workers navigate their way through the employment process.

5. An employer's guide to employing young workers
Young workers can bring enthusiasm and new skills to a workplace. They can also become loyal and valuable employees. Best practice employers understand their obligations to young workers and recognise that their guidance and support can shape young employees’ futures and their attitudes to work.

6. Gender Pay Equity Gender
Pay equity is about ensuring that both women and men are paid fairly for the work they perform. Gender pay equity makes good business sense because it fosters fairness and respect, which helps to create a motivated and harmonious workforce.

7. Small Business
The Fair Work Act 2009 sets out a number of requirements that business, including small business, needs to be aware of. Best practice employers know and understand their rights and obligations under workplace law and know who to contact for assistance.

8. Workplace Privacy
Operating at best practice when it comes to workplace privacy creates trust, certainty and security for both employers and employees. Employers, employees and their representatives need to know what information may be collected and retained by employers and whether it can be passed on to others.

9. Managing Underperformance
Establishing effective performance management systems can have significant benefits for a business, leading to happier, more motivated and better performing employees. Reviewing, refining and implementing performance management systems are ways of helping achieve these benefits.

10. Effective Dispute Resolution
Disputes can arise in any workplace. A dispute exists when one or more people disagree about something and matters remain unresolved. A fair and balanced dispute resolution process is important for the effective operation of any business.

11. Improving Workplace Productivity in Bargaining Enterprise
Bargaining is a way of fostering a culture of change in the workplace and is a valuable tool in the process of continuous improvement. It can assist in the creation of responsive and flexible enterprises and help to improve productivity and efficiency.

Read the Best Practice Guides documents [here].
Visit the Fair Work Ombudsman page [here].
Read About the Fair Work Ombudsman, Nicholas Wilson [here].

read more "Ombudsman Releases Workplace Guide"

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