I'm A Liebster Award Nominee

liebster2Enjoy Mediation has been nominated by Anastasia Pryanikova of The Brain Alchemist for the Liebster Award. Anastasia writes on neuroscience not from a brainy-snobbing perspective using big words and only citing herself but rather she consistently shares insight that is directly applicable to those engaged in conflict resolution and beyond.  Having met her in person, her kind and knowledgable personality shines through in her writings and I am fortunate to know her, read her blog, and follow her on twitter here. 
Anastasia, thank you for nominating me with along with such a great group of fellow bloggers.   The Liebster Award promotes open-mindedness, knowledge, and collaboration- I am honored to be part of it!
Here are the rules for the Liebster Award. To accept the award:
  • Thank your Liebster Blog Award presenter on your blog and link back to the blogger who presented this award to you.
  • Answer the 10 questions from the nominator.
  • Nominate 10 blogs and create 10 questions for your nominees.
Now, it is my turn to answer the 10 questions from the nominator.
1. What inspired you to start blogging?
I started it as a way to share some of the great things I was learning at the Werner Institute at Creighton University while in their Masters program for Negotiation and Dispute Resolution.  I enjoyed the reading assignments from academic literature and wanted to share it with practitioners.
I felt like (and still feel this way) that there is a gap between academia and practitioners in conflict resolution so I'm trying to fill that gap.  Also, whenever I come across something that has helped me or that I find interesting, I enjoy sharing it via my blog.

2. What do you hope to achieve with your blog?

I hope people will find it interesting and the posts will help them as much as the information has helped me.  I also hope to get very rich off of my blog posts (not really, just kidding). 

3. What are three attributes that best describe your blog?

Hmmm, good question.  I would say diverse, applicable, and entertaining.  Diverse as I try to write about different subjects within the field and from different practice areas.  Applicable in the sense that I always will consider myself more as practitioner than an academic.  From this mindset, I try to look at each post from this perspective and ask "Will this be helpful to practitioners?" Entertaining in the sense that I try not to be long-winded or tough to understand.  I'll let the readers decide if it's working :)
4. How do you nurture your creative side?
Reading, especially research papers and articles, and twitter helps me expand my "horizon" and find new people, topics, and new ways to look at old things.  Research gives credibility to statements people make while twitter constantly introduces me on a daily basis to new people and new articles to read.

5. What are you reading right now?

6. What are your preferred ways of getting the information you need?
Using Twitter/Hootsuite and the reference section of journal articles.  Two very diverse ways to get information I know!  
Twitter, and Hootsuite- the platform I use for Twitter, allows me to set up columns and lists so I don't get lost in the vast amount of information that is tweeted on a daily basis.  The wanna-be geek in me just loves getting lost in the rabbit hole of citations and references in journal articles.  There is nothing like reading a good journal article when at the end, I have highlighted a handful of additional articles in the reference section to read.

7. What do you like to do to unwind?
Yoga, meditation, drinking cortados, listening to my birds sing, reading, working, running and family!

8. What is your most ambitious goal or aspiration for 2014?
To finish my PhD!

9. What makes you happy?
Smiling and seeing others smile. That's step one, and usually step two, whatever it may be comes much easier when step one is done.

10. Anything else you would like to share?
Try to do what you like, and like you what do in life.  Also, after learning something that has helped you, share that knowledge with someone else.

The blogs I nominate for the Liebster Award:
Farnam Street Blog Shane Parrish
JAMS ADR Blog Chris Poole
Humintell Blog David Matsumoto
Psy Blog Jeremy Dean
Spy Catcher Joe Navarro
The Olive Branch United States Institute of Peace/Colette Rausch & Others
CEDR Says John Munton+

My ten questions for my nominees:
  1. Why do you think I nominated your blog?
  2. What inspires you to continue blogging?
  3. What's the hardest thing about blogging?
  4. What is something surprising that has happened as a result of blogging?
  5. If you could guest write for a blog, what would it be (go ahead, name up to three if you'd like)?
  6. You two favorite quotes that inspire you (why have to choose one!)?
  7. What guideline(s) do you try to adhere to for your blog articles?
  8. Three books or articles related to your blog's topics that you recommend?
  9. Three books or articles unrelated to your blog's topics that you recommend?
  10. Anything else?
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Building Trust & Rapport With Robin Dreeke (FBI)

Building rapport is one of the most important skills a mediator must be able to properly develop in order to be effective.  It is one of the main aspects of my PhD research and many others before me have explored this within the context of mediation as well.

Robin Dreeke of the FBI wrote a fantastic book on building rapport and recently answered questions for the Farnam Street Blog.  The Q&A's are listed below while further below are ten tips for building rapport.  Links to read more on each are provided.  

While reading it, take a moment to reflect on how you build rapport.  Do you even consider it important?  What do you do? What do you avoid doing?

From Farnam Street:

I had an opportunity to ask Robin Dreeke a few questions. Robin is in charge of the Federal Bureau of Investigation’s elite Counterintelligence Behavioral Analysis Program and the author of It’s Not All About Me.
Robin combines science and years of work in the field to offer practical tips to build rapport and establish trust. In this brief interview he discusses building relationships, how to approach someone you don’t know and ask for a favor, and the keys to establishing trust.

1) A lot of people are interested in strengthening and furthering relationships. How can people do this?

2)Trust is a foundation to most situations in life. How can we develop trust? What are the keys?

3) What’s the best way to approach someone you don’t know and ask them for a favor?

4) What are some strategies to build rapport while giving a talk, presentation, or interview?

5) I suspect you spend a lot of time trying to figure out if people are manipulating you or the situation? Can you talk about this? How can you tell when people are attempting to manipulate you?

6) If you had to give a crash course in building a relationship with someone, what are the top 5 things people need to do? What carries the bulk of the freight so-to-speak?

Read the answers to the questions [HERE].

Robin Dreeke's 10 Ways To Build Rapport from Farnam Street:


ten techniques for building quick rapport1) Establish Artificial Time Constraints
2) Accommodating Nonverbals
3) Slow Speech Rate
4) Sympathy or Assistance Theme
5) Ego Suspension
6) Validate Others
7) Ask… How? When? Why?
8) Connect With Quid Pro Quo
9) Gift Giving
10) Manage Expectations


Read more about each from Farnam Street [HERE]. 
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The Brain “Sees” Objects That You Don’t Perceive

Consider The Impact of All of The "Little Things" That Go On During A Mediation
I love reading science research and articles on Sundays to try and expand my knowledge.  Plus, it gives me new words to look up on my iPhone's Dictionary.com app as there are often words I don't know their meaning included in the research articles. This also allows me the opportunity to connect the research with my conflict resolution practice and reflect on its impact within our field.

One great site to visit is the PsyBlog- it is a great resource to visit frequently to get great insight into the latest science research.  

Have a look at the following and come to your own conclusions. 
A new study shows how much visual input the brain processes, but we never consciously see.
Fascinating new research, published in the journalPsychological Science,addresses this question.
Sanguinetti et al. (2013) had participants looking at the silhouettes of objects in the centre of a screen, while there were other shapes around the outside.
It’s like the everyday situation where you are concentrating on something, but there are all kinds of other objects and shapes in your peripheral vision.
By monitoring their brainwaves, the researchers were able to determine whether participants were processing these peripheral objects.
(bold added by me) People don’t usually take much notice of what’s going on in their peripheral vision because they are concentrating on what they are looking at.
Of course this ties nicely into my current research on nonverbal communication and mediation.  Consider the impact of all the "little things" going on during a mediation that people do not necessary "see" but nonetheless impacts peoples emotions, motivations, actions, and words.  Also, do not forget, as the guide trying to assist people that are involved in the dispute or conflict, what impact does this have on you?

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5 Tips On Measuring Negotiation Progress

Progress is not always easy to measure during a negotiation, mediation, or an attempted collaboration.  Sure, it is easy to measure lack of progress as it is laden with clear negative emotions and also the lack of a resolution or jointly decided upon conclusion but positive progress is not as easily defined.

As I am currently involved in research on crisis and hostage negotiations, fortunately scholarship has addressed this issue within this particular context.  Although law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiation is a niche area of conflict resolution that unless you are working in it, it seemingly does not have direct relevance, it can still provide learning lessons.

Measuring progress is not only necessary for the parties involved in the direct negotiation to allow them to stop and see how far they have come, it is also often necessary as it is a validation tool to superiors (we all have bosses to answer to!) to continue negotiating.


The following list is adapted from a variety of sources^ based on crisis and hostage incidents while I added a brief explanation on how it can apply to your conflict resolution situation as well:

  1. Shift From Violent, Threatening Language to Nonthreatening Language.
    Disputes and conflicts are emotionally filled situations that frequently have people releasing those emotions via their language.  As conflict resolution professionals, we know that this includes language that can include threats, profanity, as well as confrontational words.  An effective mediation and conflict resolution specialist (even non-neutrals) seeks to guide the person towards a mindset of reappraising their situation that includes them using positive language and is collaboratively looking for new options to resolve the dispute or conflict.

  2. Subject Discloses Personal Information. This is where the importance of using active listening* to create rapport and trust comes into play.  The three lead to the person opening up, sharing information, and providing insight behind the reasons of their actions.  This is the classic conflict resolution term of identifying the interests behind the positions.  

  3. Lower Level of Voice, Slower Voice Pattern.  You will notice how this is connected to the first point.  Actions (verbal and nonverbal) emotions, and language are interconnected and thus progress in one, leads to progress in another (the adverse is true too). As time passes, a conflict resolution professional not only helps diffuse the situation by allowing the person to speak and know they have been heard, but also by being aware of emotional contagion.  This simply means our actions- good or bad- can be contagious. By speaking calmly and slowly, you are showing the other person and effective way to interact. A lowered voiced and calmer tone can be a sign of the person no longer acting from solely their emotions but rather restoring the balance towards rational thinking.

  4. Lowering of Demands.
    In many negotiations where people do not prepare properly, they come in with a perspective of winning by having the other person lose.  The issue with that is the other person arrives to the negotiation with the same idea.  Therefore, instead of winning you both lose.  When a person lowers their demands, it is not necessarily a sign of giving in but rather collaborating and working towards a win-win, or a situation where both sides are agreeing.  Considering this is a negotiation, a resolution is only possible through a collaboratively built agreement.

  5. Rapport Developed Between Subject and Negotiator.  
    Rapport is often noted as being necessary for law enforcement crisis and hostage negotiators to develop with the subject in order for their to be a peaceful resolution. Rapport is described as there being mutual attention, positivity, and coordination between two people.  In all conflict situations rapport helps move people from seemingly opposite viewpoints to one that has both working together towards the best possible solution that is better than the options of a non-negotiated resolution.
    It is critical for the conflict resolution professional to use tools that contribute to rapport being built.  This includes the ones taught by the FBI here while also realizing the impact of nonverbal communication has in conflicts and negotiations.

    For example, even if you are negotiating with someone that cannot see you (as is the case in the majority of crisis and hostage situations) consider the impact your gestures have on your voice tone.  Compare the difference of your tone if you are pointing your finger or using open-handed gestures. Also do not forget, empathy plays an important role in developing rapport as your intentions behind your actions can leak out no matter how much you think they do not. You can read about how the U.S. Army promotes empathy in negotiation settings here and also check out the short clip by RSA Animate on empathy here.
Progress might not be as easy to measure compared to the lack of progress in conflict resolution situations, however hopefully the above list will help in moments when you are needing to update a boss or simply needing to self-reflect on your work.

^ Check out a great collection of crisis and hostage negotiation books from the ACR Crisis Negotiation Section [HERE]. 
* Read about active listening techniques of crisis and hostage negotiators [HERE]. 
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