Many Cups of Tea in Glasgow

There is a famous book titled “Three Cups of Tea” and it tells the story of an American man and his many journeys to Pakistan to build schools for children.  The tea reference is to the custom of having tea while communicating with others.  This occurred during lively discussions, friendly and informal talks, and during negotiations for him through the book.
The book specifically refers to the American coming to the realization that in order for an important collaboration to be negotiated and finalized as well as for friendships to be developed, three cups of tea had to be consumed because this is how relationships and rapport are developed.
My short reflections of the Glasgow trip (why Glasgow? read more here) reminds me of the above story however the variations include instead of a single American traveling, it is a small group from New York, Barcelona and Glasgow getting together in Glasgow over a multiple days.  Instead of three cups of tea (or coffee), there were many, many cups of tea.
Drinking, while engaging others in communication, is a form of nonverbal communication and falls with the "E" for environment of my METTA acronym [more here].
It was in these numerous opportunities of consuming tea with Glaswegians that I was able to have deep yet informal conversations learning about how people here, from all religions, religious groups, law enforcement, and governmental agencies are working in various collaborations towards building a Glasgow and Scotland that is based on the words of Wisdoms, Justice, Integrity and Compassion.
People shared with me how these words manifest daily not only just during their work but their lives.  Tea (again, also coffee), is a wonderful nonverbal communication element that reduces the invisible barriers that exist such as cultural differences, languages and accents, clothing and adornments, and personal beliefs.
These words of Wisdom, Justice, Integrity, and Compassion, which are inscribed on the ceremonial mace in the Parliamentary chamber in Edinburgh (read here), do not “live” in written text.  Rather, I was able to see it come alive while engaging all many different people in these informal conversations over a cup of tea.
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Coming Face To Face Behind The Emotion of Conflict

Restorative justice has found favour in the workplace, writes Kelly Burke.
Bullying, violence, greed, sexual harassment and revelations of infidelity are all in a day's work for Jack Manning, the fictional workplace negotiator played by Matthew Newton in the Michael Rymer film Face to Face.
But, according to the man on whom the character is based, the film is a strikingly accurate portrayal of a day at the office - invariably somebody else's office.
John McDonald has been working as a facilitator in the field of restorative justice for almost two decades and, along with colleague David Moore, inspired David Williamson over lunch one day in the late 1990s to write a play based on the work they did.

Read more:
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Semiotics & Nonverbal Communication (Conflict Analysis)

Hello everyone,

I thought the following article I published at would be of interest to some.  If we look at our nonverbal communication as well as that of others, it can help us be more effective in engaging and assisting those in conflict.


Semiotics & Nonverbal Communication

by Jeff Thompson| Brisbane, Australia

Sunday, 18 September 2011
tags: australasia, making sense, semiotics

Semiotics, is the study and understanding of signs.  Signs are not limited to what comes to mind for most people- billboards, advertisements and storefront displays.  Rather, semiotics, and more specifically social semiotics is the study of how we interact and communicate with others by analysing the different channels of communication being used.  Often, many of these channels are based on nonverbal elements and cues.
During any interaction with another person, we are communicating with each other constantly, primarily through nonverbal channels.  This is occurring through multiple channels and is both strategic and non-strategic (or intentional and unintentional).  This includes body language, voice tone, clothing and adornments, the environment, timing, and touch.
To envision all the different nonverbal elements present in any given situation, picture a black, blank screen in front of you.  Now imagine dozens of circles, of different colors and sizes, appearing and disappearing with the timing of each varying while consuming the majority of the screen replacing the black portions...

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Body Language of International Negotiations

I came across the following article recently which explored the use of body language in a laboratory setting of Chinese and Canadian participants.

The authors, Zhaleh Semnani-Azad (University of Waterloo) and Wendi L. Adair (University of Waterloo), coded six categories of behavior: posture, head movement, hand movement, eye gaze, facial expression, and how often the participant fell silent or kept talking.

The results: 

The results indicated that some nonverbal cues were used by both groups to convey the same meaning. Smiling, leaning forward, and gesturing while talking were employed by both the Chinese and Canadians when trying to convey a positive and more submissive approach, and shaking the head and frowning were displayed by both to show the opposite. In attempting to project dominance, both groups were more likely to try to control the room through negative signals than positive ones.

What I find interesting is many of the traits listed as "positive and submissive" is also what previous research studies state are nonverbal cues of rapport?  Is rapport building also considered not only positive but also submissive?

read the full article from Strategy + Business [HERE].
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Glasgow 2011: Interfaith Engagement

As this is posted, I should be just about to land in Glasgow, Scotland.  I am once again fortunate enough to be part of an interfaith delegation trip sponsored by the Interfaith Center of New York who’s purpose is to bring interfaith leaders from Glasgow, Barcelona, and New York City during a 3 year-3 city tour to share their ideas, best practices and explore ways to be more effective in their respective cities.

I am part of the New York City delegation and was invited because of the clergy and interfaith I do as a detective in the NYPD working in the Community Affairs Bureau as well as the conflict resolution/mediation work.

I am looking forward to this opportunity to be able to engage others from another city doing similar work yet doing it differently at the same time as each city is different and unique and thus approaches must be designed to meet the varying needs of the stakeholders.

Last year in Barcelona I was able to learn how deeply connected the terms “conflict resolution” and “mediation” is with the term “interfaith.”  There is even an umbrella organization called the Interfaith Mediation Network.

I am looking forward to being able to learn methods of engagement and then reflecting on ways to apply it to my practice to improve my ability to assist others who are involved in conflicts and disputes.

I plan to blog while in Glasgow (and Edinburgh) and you can also follow my trip in twitter.  I will be using the hash tag #ICNYglasgow and posting from both my mediation account, @MediatorJeff and my nonverbal communication account, @NonverbalPhD.
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Join Me: Sept. 19th, 6-8pm

Hello Everyone!

Just a quick message for my friends in Scotland and the rest of the UK that I will be giving a talk at Strathclyde University titled:

The Science & Art of Nonverbal Communication: What Mediators Need To Know

This interactive workshop will combine academic nonverbal communicationresearch with its practical use for mediators. Nonverbal communication is fun to talk about yet also have a significant impact during our mediation sessions.  As conflict and communication specialists, it is important for us to be aware of our nonverbal cues as well as those used by others.

Jeff Thompson will share important information based on research (his and others) and offer it in a way you can apply it to your practice.  He share’s his METTA acronym as a way to be aware of all the present nonverbal elements.

Jeff Thompson is a professional mediator certified with the New York Peace Institute and the International Mediation Institute. He is currently a PhD candidate at Griffith University Law School in Australia, researching nonverbal communication. Jeff is also an NYPD Detective. Follow Jeff on twitter at @NonverbalPhD & @MediatorJeff.

Monday, September 19th, 20106pm – 8pm

Strathclyde Law School, room 716

For the Young mediators group the fee is £25 for members of SMN and£50 for non- members.

Special thanks to Charlie Irvine for arranging this event.
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Join Me Tonight- 8pm est!

Listen LIVE Sept 13th at 5:00 pm PST/ 7:00 pm CST/ 8:00 pm EST atBlogTalkRadio. Call in at: (347) 324-3591

Listen online [HERE]
From Texas Conflict Coach:

Body Language and gestures are fun to talk about yet also have a significant impact during our interactions with others. As conflict and communication specialists, it is important for us to be aware of our nonverbal cues as well as those used by others. This includes negotiation and mediations sessions and the work of ombuds and conflict coaches. 

Jeff Thompson will share important information based on research (his and others) and offer it in a way you can apply it to your practice. He shares's his METTA acronym as a way to be aware of all the present nonverbal elements. Join us to learn new information, have fun and ask questions.

Jeff Thompson is a NYPD detective and professional mediator. He also gives presentations and trainings on conflict resolution, communication and nonverbal communication skills. Jeff has a MS in Negotiation and Dispute Resolution from Creighton University and is currently a PhD candidate at Griffith University Law School based in Australia.
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White Socks & Mediation

The following post is originally from my other blog which is covers my research as I venture towards a PhD degree at Griffith University Law School.  The topic is on nonverbal communication and mediation.  The post below I believe has direct relevance... aside of questioning the wearing of white socks with a business suit.  

Have a read below looking at the pictures and video from your professional conflict resolution perspective and ask yourself the following questions while you reflect on it- could you pick the slight/quick cues during a mediation?  Do you think you ever "leak" these type of cues?  What can you do to be more aware of these type of nonverbal cues?


One of my favorite ways to keep my skills sharp in decoding nonverbal communication cues is by watching television, especially the Sunday morning political discussion programs. A favorite of mine is the U.S. based "This Week" on ABC.

Usual host Christiane Amanpour was off (someone who I have researched and mentioned on this blog previously here), so Jake Tapper took the reins for the August 28th episode and didn't fail with offering some nonverbal communication information for me to share.

First, the highlight and subject of the title- finger pointing and tongue sticking!
You can watch the video here and jump straight to the 10 minute mark. If you do not want to read my analysis prior to watching, stop reading and watch the video now.
video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

Notice the condescending nature of Donna Brazile pointing her finger (scolding-like, reminds me of a teacher yelling at me while in primary school!) while leaning forward.
Then, George Will responds by defending himself, and offers two great micro-expressions. First the extended blink (closing her off- both the site of her and her comment) then, and to further emphasis his disagreeing with her comments, he sticks his tongue out at her. Really.
I was able to get a picture of it below. Trust me, it was very quick.

Next, moving onto (actually back to) our host Jake Tapper. In my METTA acronym, "A" is for appearance- any thoughts on his color selection of socks?
Prior to George sticking his tongue out at Donna, a few minutes earlier he "shot" down her comments with the famous "I want you to stop talking, I don't agree" 'shoot'em down' gesture.

Back to Donna, in this picture notice her eyebrows.  Here she is listening to Cokie Roberts and not neutrally analyzing her comments, but rather from a negative perspective.

For the last picture, you tell me what you see in this picture.  George Will is speaking (on the right) and the others are listening. See anything?

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Reflection & Engagement At The Speed of Twitter!

Last week, Jason Dykstra and I co-hosted the first ever twitter chat for the ADR community.  I saw this as an opportunity to bring together the ADR community of professionals, academics, students, practitioners, and ‘newbies.’

This opportunity turned into a fantastic experience- one that allowed me to engage people that I was already following on twitter as well as getting the opportunity to interact with new people.

The format was simple- everyone meet at 8pm on the last Wednesday of every month to discuss a predetermined topic that consists of approximately 10 questions.  Each questions is given about 5-7 minutes of discussion and each tweet contains the #ADRhubChat hashtag (if it doesn’t no one present for the chat will see it!). 

What is the best way to describe what went on during this one hour chat on the topic of “Twitter and ADR”? Adventurous, Fast Fun!

No, I am not describing some action-packed roller coaster ride but the twitter chat.  It really was each of those and more.

Adventurous- This was basically a new venture for most of the participants.  A heuristic learning model is one where you learn by engaging and trying it out for yourself.  Well, that was the case for me and those involved in this first chat as went on a one hour adventure- that really is the best way for me to explain the journey that was fast and fun (to be explained below).

The best part about it- I was not alone I had my fellow ADR friends going along for the ride as well.  The adventure allowed everyone to come together, on a new platform to share and learn.

Fast-  I have not added up the total amount of posts or participants but my estimates are about two dozen people and over a hundred tweets all in one hour.  I have participated in fast mediations before (yes, successful thank you very much) but this twitter chat really made me feel like I was time traveling as one hour basically felt like 5 or 10 minutes.  I was typing furiously, and putting eyes to work at double time reading the tweets as fast as they came in.  “Why use twitter for ADR,” “Who do You follow,” “ADR Twitter Success Stories,” and “Things that bother you on twitter” were some of the questions that garnered dozens of replies.  How can I explain how fast it was?  Think the Mediator’s Introduction, opening statements, and exploring ideas stage happening… all at the same time! 

Fun- With the above comment, it’s easy for people to say that sounds like information overload and something you would never want to participate in.  I’ll only speak for myself and it was the opposite- it was fun and lots of it.  I had the opportunity to have a really good time and engage in topics with many people all in one hour.  If anything, at the very least it was a great exercise for my brain to comprehend many things at a fast pace.  It reminds me of how during a mediation session there are many things happening at once including communication and nonverbal communication cues and elements that are easy to miss.  Practice helps us as mediators be aware and respond accordingly.  For the twitter chat it is similar- taking in lots of information and responding accordingly.

Overall I really enjoy this new experience and look forward to doing it again next month.  Of course there were some slight bumps on this adventurous, fast and fun event but that’s part of the reflective and learning experience.

I look forward to hopefully seeing you at the next twitter chat: September 28th, 8pm est., on twitter using #ADRhubChat.

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