January 29, 2010

16 Opportunities To Learn In NYC

January 6, 2010

Yes, I do realize this really only applies to the readers in the NYC metro area but maybe for the Fall ’10 Program it will also include an online element? For the time being, fellow New Yorkers, enjoy!

…I also know many of the instructors and wish them success and the participants too!

and the
announce a series of sixteen
Conflict Resolution Workshops
Spring 2010

John Jay College is pleased to announce a series of non-credit workshops focusing on skills, tools, and credentials to better understand, manage and resolve conflicts. These workshops are for everyone: professionals who would like to refresh or develop new skills and individuals who are interested in exploring new ways of handling conflicts. Each workshop is led by a recognized expert and presents state of the art information and skills.

To register or for more information:
Phone: (212) 237-8663
Website: (click on conflict resolution)

Managing Conflict in the Workplace: Effective Communication Skills
All Employees can benefit from better understanding the causes of conflict and how to respond to conflict situations with better communication tools. Become aware of your emotional triggers to prevent explosive situations. Learn new strategies of conflict management that will improve your communication performance and help you to respond to conflict more effectively. Participants will explore and practice utilizing skills in the workplace to create healthy relationships with colleagues and clients.
Instructor: Meridith Gould
Monday, January 11, 6:30 – 8:30 pm; $30 for course

Conflict Resolution Skills Training
All of us face conflict on a daily basis – with coworkers, family members and friends. Knowing what to say and do during those stressful times often makes the difference between escalating conflict or resolving the issue effectively and improving your relationship in the process. This two-day training will teach you the necessary skills to anticipate, manage and resolve conflicts in a way that protects your interests and preserves your relationships. These valuable conflict resolution skills are usually taught as part of the professional mediation training. Due to popular demand, we are offering an opportunity to learn these skills in only two days. After taking this course you will know: how to use conflict as a positive force for change; the five conflict resolution styles, your most- and least- used styles; how our brain experiences conflict; the power of nonverbal communication; the four levels of listening; how to ask power questions that elicit helpful information.
Instructors: Alex Yaroslavsky, Elizabeth Clemants, Michelle M. Leonard
Fridays, January 15 & 22, 10:00 am – 6:00 pm; $495 for the course

Conflict Resolution Programs for Urban Youth: a Model for Success
Conflict resolution programs are implemented in schools, after-school programs and community centers. However, many of the programs are mass produced and not relevant to the students they serve. Youth workers/educators will learn how to create programs for youth that are effective, fun and sustainable. They will learn the “best practices” that are needed to create, implement and sustain conflict resolution and empowerment programs for urban youth in New York. Participants will learn how to craft curricula that is systemic and transformative for urban youth in the city.
Instructor: Meridith Gould
Wednesday, January 20, 6:30 – 8:30 pm; $30 for course

Conflict Dynamics Profile® Certification Workshop
Become a Certified User of the Conflict Dynamics Profile® (CDP) and add another valuable tool as an ADR practitioner and professional in the workplace. The Leadership Development Center at Eckerd College has developed a multi-rater (360°) assessment tool that helps leaders, managers and teams develop conflict competence. Unlike other conflict assessments, the CDP assesses specific behaviors and offers action plans to develop constructive conflict behaviors for productive conflict engagement. Certified CDP users can administer the 360° or individual online CDP to work with individuals, teams, and organizations. Workshop content: The Conflict Dynamics Profile® Certification Workshop prepares participants to use the CDP in their professional practice. Participants explore conflict, conflict stages, hot buttons, specific conflict behaviors, conflict behavior analysis, coaching skills to offer feedback, and individual and organizational constructive conflict engagement and collaboration. This workshop includes administration of the Conflict Dynamics Profile, personal CDP results, sample reports, technical manual, and a CD containing A-V materials for conducting training workshops.
Instructor: Rita Callahan
Saturday, January 20, 9:00 am – 4:00 pm; $525 for course

Professional Mediation Training
This unique mediation course is for anyone considering becoming a mediator. After completing this course you will be able to: Understand and refine your conflict resolution style; Manage conflict with confidence, using proven techniques; Conduct successful mediations in a variety of settings.
Instructors: Alex Yaroslavsky, Elizabeth Clemants and Michelle Leonard
Fridays, January 15 & 22 (10:00 am – 6:00 pm), Thursdays, February 4 – May 6, 6:00 – 8:30 pm; $1,195 for course

Conflict Resolution and Mediation Skill Exercises for Trainers
Join your colleagues to add to your repertoire of training exercises for your conflict resolution and mediation trainings. Participants will learn and practice training exercises to demonstrate specific conflict resolution and mediation skills that can be used in your training courses. Identify, understand and practice exercises to illustrate silence, listening, open-ended questions, listening for emotions and needs, win-win, change, specificity, and other skills. Participants will discuss and refine training exercises and will practice offering feedback about the exercises.
Instructor: Rita Callahan
Wednesdays, February 17 & 24, 6:30 – 8:00 pm; $50 for course

A Short Introduction to the Transformative Model of Mediation
The purpose of this 4-session, 6-hour workshop is to expose those who have taken facilitative mediation or related undergraduate courses to the Transformative Model of Mediation by discussing the Relational Worldview the model espouses, identifying human perceptions of what it is like being IN conflict, articulating the transformative tools of intervention and practicing them in role plays. While this is not a complete Transformative Mediation training, it exposes participants to an approach to mediation that many misunderstand and provides an opportunity to experience it with the ultimate goal of taking a more comprehensive training. Components of the training include: Personal Views of Conflict (exercise), Conflict: A Crisis in Human Interaction (lecture and discussion), Opportunities for Empowerment and Recognition Shifts (lecture and discussion), Tools of Intervention (combination of lecture and multiple exercises): Reflect, Summarize, Check in, Question, Silence and Role Plays (exercises).
Instructor: Julie Denny
Tuesdays, March 16 – April 16, 6:30 – 8:00 pm; $135 for course

Negotiating Agreements to Get Results
The “core of negotiation” is the give-and-take process utilized to reach agreement. Although this complex process is very important, most of the critical factors that shape negotiations don’t occur during the bargaining process, they occur before the parties face each other. This 2-session 4 hour workshop will focus on the planning stages and strategies of negotiation, BATNAs, individual perceptions, identifying and distinguishing between issues, needs, interests and opinions. Components of this training include interactive experiences that will highlight: varying communication styles, tactics and ploys, and distributive and integrative negotiations.
Instructor: Sam Blank
Wednesdays, March 17 & 24, 6:30 – 8:30 pm; $50 for course

Body, Heart, Mind: Somatics and Conflict Resolution
This 41⁄2 hour experiential workshop series introduces participants to physical/verbal conflict resolution (“embodied peacemaking”) basics. Each session is a stand-alone course; together they introduce somatics as a peace building discipline.
Instructors: William Leicht, Paul Linden and David Weinstock
Monday/Tuesday/Wednesday, March 22 – 24, 6:30 – 8:00 pm; $75 for course

Negotiating Under Pressure
This course will provide participants with a unique opportunity to learn lessons from police hostage negotiations, where every situation is a crisis that usually involves violence and weapons, and intuition is essential for resolving each one. People generally go into a wide range of negotiations with a preconceived notion of how they would like them to turn out. The goal is to attempt to find some common ground and/or figure out a way to reach a compromise. You will sharpen your negotiating skills by learning how the police hostage negotiators negotiate some of the most stressful and high profile situations.
Instructor: Jack Cambria
Thursdays, April 1 – 22, 6:30 – 8:00 pm; $125 for course

Effective Negotiation Skills for Getting Ahead
Negotiation skills are at the core of this interactive workshop. The course will enable the participants to get through the stages of bargaining to agreement and it will explore how “Getting to Yes!” can be reached in diverse situations, whether it is a new deal for a house, a car, or even an increase in pay. The workshop is a step-by-step, How-to-approach for skillfully taking each negotiation from engagement to agreement. Through experiential training it will provide the knowledge and insights needed to overcome animosities, turn confrontation into collaboration and to improve existing negotiation skills to achieve successful outcomes. It includes Active Listening, Probing, Assessing Context and Content and much more. The course is designed for managers, professionals and others who wish to enhance their negotiation skills.
Instructor: José Pascal da Rocha
Wednesdays, April 7 – May 5, 6:30 – 8:00 pm & Saturday, May 1; 9:00 am – 4:00 pm (Intensive role-playing session); $150 for course

Bias Awareness
This workshop will look at many different biases and look at the personal, cultural and institutional forms of these biases. We will also examine ways that we have experienced bias and practice methods for interpreting bias. We will close with ways we can make our work environments safer and more welcoming for everyone.
Instructor: Priscilla Prutzman
Monday, April 19, 6:30 – 8:00 pm; $25 for the course

Verbal Judo: the Gentle Art of Persuasion
A comprehensive course originally developed for law enforcement professionals by Dr. George Thompson, himself a former university professor, police officer and martial artist. Verbal Judo is an amalgamation of western style persuasive speaking and eastern martial arts philosophy. This course will creatively examine methods to ameliorate conflict, ramp down the false ego and raise authentic and legitimate self-esteem. The goal of Verbal Judo is to generate voluntary compliance through the use of presence and words. Verbal Judo can be taught and utilized by anyone who realizes that “people skills” are perishable and at a premium in this complicated and confusing world.
Instructor: James Shanahan
Saturday, April 24, 10:00 am – 1:00 pm; $55 for the course

Conflict in Film
Every good story has at least one conflict in it. Films screened during the course will offer viewers a variety of opportunities to understand conflict and to gain important and interesting insights into our society, and globally. This workshop is a unique opportunity to screen and discuss selected fiction film and documentaries that address a variety of simple and complex situations that involve a variety of conflicts, transgressions, human rights violations, and social justice issues.
Instructor: Jill Strauss
Wednesday, April 28, 6:30 – 8:30 pm; $30 for course

Managing Anger in Personal and Professional Relationships
This is an interactive experience geared to help participants learn additional ways to manage their own anger, as well as to help others to better handle this emotion. The purpose of this 2-session, 3-hour workshop is to explore a variety of ideas relating to anger and anger management. Different activities will be used to help participants understand and put this information to work in different relationships.
Instructor: Dave Wolffe
Tuesday & Thursday, May 18 & 20, 6:45 – 8:15 pm; $50 for course

Mediation in Your Workplace: The Most Effective, Least Expensive and Most Pleasant Way to Deal with Workplace Conflicts
Conflict and disputes in workplaces are inevitable. Whether over work ethic, culture, management style, perceived unfairness in treatment or promotions, or simply personality clashes, there are so many kinds of work problems. And all of them can be destructive to those involved and get in the way of the work that needs to be done. Many organizations have already instituted mediation as a dispute resolution process to try to nip such problems in the bud. If your workplace does not yet do so, you may be able to help bring mediation in. This interactive course will explain and demonstrate what mediation is and show how you can utilize it in your place of work.
Instructor: Nancy Kramer
Tuesday, May 25, 6:30 – 9:30 pm; $55 for course

Instructors’ Bios

Sam Blank
is certified as a conflict resolution specialist by the International Center for Cooperation and Conflict Resolution and the State of New York. He is a member of the faculty at Pace University’s Graduate School of Leadership and at the Borough of Manhattan Community College of the City University of New York.

Rita Callahan, Principal of Working It Out, is a collaboration and conflict management consultant who works with individuals, companies and organizations to improve interpersonal and organizational communication, and to develop the ability of people, groups and companies to manage conflict and to collaborate effectively.

Jack Cambria, the Commanding Officer of the NYPD’s Hostage Negotiation Team (HNT), is a highly decorated, 27-year veteran of the New York City Police Department and has commanded the HNT for eight years. He also has a total of 16 years experience with the NYPD’s elite Emergency Services Unit.

Elizabeth Clemants, MSW is the founder and principal of DRAFT, a unique business that combines social work, life coaching and mediation to help people work through internal or external conflicts and create positive change in their personal and professional lives. Ms. Clemants is the former senior director of the Safe Horizon Mediation Program and has been a state-certified basic mediation trainer since 2000.

José Pascal da Rocha, JD is an international mediator. He has over 16 years of experience in multinational crisis intervention and at the corporate level. Apart from his practice, he teaches conflict resolution at diverse universities around the globe. His latest publication is “Inclusion and Diversity as an Intercultural Task – An Essay” in Diversity, Equality and Inclusion – a Research Compendium, Chattenham: Edward Elgar Press, 2009. He is a Professor at Columbia University, a UN mediator at the Mediation Support Unit and he lives in Brooklyn. For more info, go to

Julie Denny, an Advanced Practitioner member of both the Workplace and Family sections of the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR), is also a mediation panelist for the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the U.S. Postal Service, the Transportation Security Administration and the Key Bridge foundation ADA program. A regular reviewer of books on conflict resolution and mediation for Library Journal, Julie has also been featured in Court TV and Bloomberg Network segments on mediation, and been interviewed on a number of radio talk shows. She is also an Associate of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation.

Meridith Gould has over 12 years of experience in training and consulting. She has an MS in Dispute Resolution and is a Doctoral Candidate in Conflict Analysis and Resolution. Her expertise focuses on training/workshop youth empowerment, inner-city youth, violence prevention, social and emotional skill building and educational issues.

Nancy Kramer is an attorney and mediator who has handled hundreds of workplace disputes, as well as other kinds. She does private mediations and is an active employment mediation panel member for groups, including the American Arbitration Association (AAA), United States Postal Service, New Jersey Superior Court, New York City Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings (OATH) and New York County Supreme Court, Commercial Division.

William Leicht, M.A., founded the Bronx Peace Dojo and Peace Dojos International. He is a conflict resolution professional and aikidoist with an international reputation.

Michelle M. Leonard is the director of mediation services at Community Mediation Services (CMS). Michelle is a certified basic mediation and custody and visitation mediation trainer, as well as an adjunct professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Michelle graduated magna cum laude from Touro Law Center and is admitted to the New York and New Jersey Bars.

Paul Linden, Ph.D. is a specialist in body awareness education. Dr. Linden is the developer of Being In Movement® mindbody training, co-founder of the Columbus Center for Movement Studies in Columbus, Ohio, a sixth degree black belt in Aikido and a first degree black belt in Karate, an instructor of the Feldenkrais Method® of somatic education and the author of a number of e-books.

Priscilla Prutzman, Co-Founder and Executive Director of Creative Response to Conflict, is co-author of The Friendly Classroom for a Small Planet, the recipient of many awards for her distinguished career in conflict resolution, and has taught courses in assertiveness training, conflict resolution, mediation and bias awareness for colleges including City College of New York, St. Thomas Aquinas College in Sparkill, NY, State University of New York at New Paltz, and Woodbury College in Montpelier, VT. She worked with women’s groups and homeless children in the Philippines and taught workshops and courses in the former Yugoslavia, Peru, and Costa Rica.

James Shanahan is a decorated veteran with nearly thirty years in law enforcement. He is a detective, police trainer and hostage negotiator who holds advanced and specialized certification in conflict resolution, critical incident stress and disaster management. James is a member of the adjunct faculty at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, where he teaches the Emergency Psychological Technician program to police recruits, In-Service police officers, Emergency Service and Hostage Negotiations Team personnel, as well as newly promoted supervisors of all ranks. Additionally, he is an accomplished TV, stage and screen actor and a lifelong practitioner of traditional Japanese martial arts.

Jill Strauss is an Adjunct Professor in the Dispute Resolution Program at John Jay College. She has a Master of Education in Peace Education and Conflict Resolution, and her PhD research and fieldwork is on art and conflict.

David Weinstock, co-founder of Liminal Somatics and originator the Somatic Consensus method is a certified Somatic Coach through the Strozzi Institute, a Life Coach, a facilitator of Nonviolent Communication, and an Aikido teacher. He leads trainings locally and around the world— in prisons, and communities on four continents.

Dave Wolffe is an adjunct lecturer at John Jay College of Criminal Justice. He is founder and program coordinator of Peace Enhancement Attained-Collaborative Efforts (P.E.A.C.E.) Inc. Mr. Wolffe also developed a training format and manual for facilitators of the Anger Management Power (AMP) Program. He is currently working on a “how-to” guide for parents, educators and others involved with teens, to empower young people to manage anger in positive ways. The guide is due to be published in 2010.
Alex Yaroslavsky, MILR is the founder of Yaro Group, LLC, a dispute resolution consultancy specializing in workplace conflict resolution. Alex teaches dispute resolution at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice and serves on several mediation and arbitration panels, including the NYC CCRB, OATH, FINRA, and the U.S. Bankruptcy Court (Southern District). Alex has been working in the alternative dispute resolution field since 1994 and regularly trains and coaches new mediators.


January 4, 2010


Feelings and emotions are an integral part of any mediation or negotiation. When I give talks or training on mediations involving money disputes, such as credit-card debt cases (read the Newsweek article here), people think it is cut and dry- go back and forth on offers and either there is a deal or no deal.
Yes, maybe some are like that but every mediation, even the ones I have handled which were settled faster than the length of my opening “welcome to mediation” statement, included expressing emotions and feelings. People want to be able to speak, and want to know they have been heard. This is where a mediator really helps with the process. Acknowledging statements by summarizing, validating and reframing are some of the best tools a mediator can have in their toolbox.
Douglas Stone, Bruce Patton and Sheila Heen wrote the book Difficult Conversations in which Chapter 5 is dedicated to feelings. This chapter explains how important feelings are, how to acknowledge the other person’s feelings and how equally important to express yours.
Some quick tidbits from the chapter:
Feelings are often at the heart of difficult conversations
Allowing feelings to be surfaced increases the chance for the mediation/negotiation to go well.
Unexpressed feelings can leak into the conversation. No one likes leaks, right? Trying to breeze through the mediation and ignoring the feelings present can have them leak, or even worse, burst, and the worst moment. How might they leak out? Through your tone, body language, facial expressions, and silence are all examples.

Unexpressed feelings make it difficult to listen. I am a big advocate of the saying seek to understand before seeking to be understood. It does not mean do not look to be understood, it’s important to realize that is second part of the statement. Holding your feelings in will do no good if you are the one involved in the negotiation. It will keep building up and cloud the mind diminishing your ability to listen effectively.

Unexpressed feelings take a toll on our self-esteem and relationships. Keeping your feelings out of the conversation keeps an important part of you out it.

Learn where your feelings hide. Feelings can be good at hiding and disguising themselves; be a good detective and find them!
Explore your emotional footprint. How were feelings expressed by you and those around you growing up? Were they welcomed and openly shared?
Accept that feelings are normal and natural. Yes, you are odd if you haven’t felt feelings… ever!
Recognize that good people can have bad feelings. I found this one particularly interesting as I often say people are not good or bad but it is their actions which are good and bad. They describe it as, for example, the assumption that good people should not get angry, fail, or a burden.
Learn that you feelings are important as theirs. Some of us can’t see our own feelings because we have learned somewhere along the way that other people’s feelings are more important than ours (page 93).

As mediators, we keep our feelings out of the negotiation between the parties. I find it very important to remind myself, and others, when we are not mediating and are involved in our own difficult conversations or negotiations that it is okay for feelings to be expressed.

My 3 steps in regards to feelings:
1) Recognize feelings. If it’s anger, tell yourself you are angry. Don’t say it’s okay if it isn’t.

2) Understand feelings. Okay, I am angry. Now connect the reasons or contributing factors leading to your anger.
3) Express feelings. Important factors in expressing your feelings in a healthy way include timing and realizing the other person might not know you feel this way and/or might see the situation differently.
Don’t let hidden feelings block other emotions. Page 96 lists a chart titled A Landscape of Sometimes Hard-to-find-Feelings. For example under love is affectionate, caring, close and proud while under gratitude is appreciative, thankful, relieved, and admiring.

Find the feelings lurking under attributions, judgments and accusations. These three can led to misunderstandings as well as defensive actions by both sides.

We translate our feelings into: Judgments, Attributions, Characterizations and Problem-Solving (page98).
Don’t use feelings as Gospel (or Sutra!): Negotiate with them. Remember, feelings, no matter how strong are impermanent.
Don’t vent, describe feelings carefully. Frame feelings back into the problem, express the full spectrum of your feelings, and don’t evaluate- just share.
How do you share- express your feelings without judging, don’t monopolize (both sides can have strong feelings at the same time!), and start with, “I feel…”
Sometimes feelings are all that matter. Yes, I have mediated cases that seemed to drag on and on, heels were being dug in deeper and deeper and then finally one side acknowledged the other side was hurt by the situation and apologized for their feelings being hurt (apologies are for another day!). The person said they were happy now and that was all they wanted- for the other party to know and acknowledge they were hurt.
This is meant to be just a quick introduction to how feelings are ever present and are by no means intended to be an all inclusive writing on the topic. If you are interested in learning more about these points and difficult conversations in general, I recommend you purchase the book Difficult Conversations. It is available [here] at Amazon and many other locations.

Ombuds News Round Up

December 30, 2009

PBS Ombudsman Agrees NewsHour Slighted ‘Fascinating’ Climategate E-Mails

PBS Ombudsman Michael Getler agreed with conservative letter-writers that the NewsHour covered Climategate “lightly and well after the fact,” even though he expressed the standard liberal belief that the “overwhelming” evidence is on the man-made dramatic warming side, and there’s a “danger of establishing false equivalence” — in other words, the liberals have more truth on their side.

But in a letter solicited from Getler, NewsHour senior producer Murrey Jacobson refused to admit any imbalance…

Read more [here]

Judge names Houston attorney to monitor company
DALLAS — A Houston lawyer will serve as a court-appointed ombudsman to monitor a venerable Texas company that has been cited for discriminating against black employees….

The plaintiffs’ attorney, Tim Garrigan of Nacogdoches, said the appointment of an ombudsman is significant.
“These remedial orders have been a long time in coming,” Garrigan said, “but we’re hopeful they will make Lufkin a better place to work.”

Has anyone ever heard of a judge appointing an ombuds to a company before? Read the article [here]

ESPN Ombudsman Comments On Tiger Woods Coverage
News judgments are incredibly difficult when dealing with a situation such as the Woods melodrama. Do too little, and ESPN is accused of covering up. Do too much, and it’s perceived to be character assassination. ESPN’s handling of Woods on “SportsCenter” and other news and opinion programs can be debated, but it appeared the network tried to walk the line between satisfying the audience’s inquisitiveness about the self-destruction of arguably the world’s most famous athlete and trying to avoid the trap of sensationalism. There were exceptions, but in general the network covered problematic subject matter seriously, avoided rampant speculation and provided context.

…Some of ESPN’s coverage decisions — such as playing the 911 call about Woods’ mother-in-law fainting, using a quote on The Bottom Line from one of Woods’ neighbors that left the impression the golfer was drunk, and relying on the National Enquirer and TMZ as sources — should raise eyebrows.

Read the full article [here] (note, I added the bold).

Colbert to serve as Olympic oval ‘ombudsman’
Stephen Colbert announced Thursday he’ll travel to Richmond to accept the city’s offer to become the official Richmond Olympic Oval ombudsman during the 2010 Winter Games.
“I have no idea what an ombudsman is, but as long as it requires no effort from me, I proudly accept,” Colbert told his TV viewers.

Colbert, host of the Colbert Report…

Read more [here]

Ombudsman critical of handling of drug evidence
The Victorian Ombudsman has tabled a highly critical report about the handling of drug exhibits at the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre.

…The report, tabled in State Parliament today has found that mismanagement and a lack of accountability create an environment in which corruption may go unnoticed.
The report says for the last 15 years, there has been no full independent audit of drug holdings at the Victoria Police Forensic Services Centre.

Read more [here]
UN Security Council Creates Ombudsman Office
I wrote earlier this week on this topic, read the post [here].

UN To Create Security Council Ombudsman & New Mediation Division Launched

December 28, 2009

UN To Create Ombudsman For Security Council & New Mediation Division

Recently the United Nation’s Security Council announced it will created an Ombudsman Office. This position is being created specifically in response to concerns over its own No Fly List.

According to the CBC, “The Security Council’s unanimous decision to appoint an ombudsman is aimed at ensuring that UN sanctions target the right people, companies and organizations for links to al-Qaeda and the Taliban.”

Creation of the Ombudsman Office was passed unanimously by the Council and the position will initially be created for 18 months to assist the sanctions committee to review the procedures regarding delisting individuals on the list.

Further information from the article explains how the Ombuds will be chosen, “The ombudsman will be appointed by the UN Secretary General, and will be someone who should be “an eminent individual of high moral character, impartiality and integrity with high qualifications and experience in relevant fields, such as legal, human rights, counter-terrorism and sanctions”, a UN release stated.”

The United Nations currently has an Ombudsman Office which serves the employees of the UN. You can read more about that office, and John Barkat, the current ombudsman, [here].

Note, their site is newly re-designed and you will notice the UN has created a new Mediation Division with the Ombudsman Office. The office was created in August 2009 as per the passing of General Assembly resolution A/RES/62/228. You can read more about the new Mediation Division and its services [here].

Read the full CBC article [here].

CyberSettle & The NYC Government

December 24, 2009

– More than 3,000 claims settled via Cybersettle saving City millions –

I am not sure how many people know about CyberSettle, but it is an online based company whose software program allows two parties enter the amount they are interested in either trying to get the other party to pay or the amount they are willing to pay. The program lets them know when there is match and bam- a deal is made.

According to the NYC Comptroller’s officer, in about a four year period (February ’04 through June ’08) over 3,000 claimscases were settled using the CyberSettle site.

This service helps New York City expedite claims against the city. That’s the good new, however another way I see it is the process narrows the entire dispute to simply money. No interests, no feelings or emotions, no apologies, and empathy. Some would say who cares because it makes the process quicker and cheaper.

That all said, I think the service is a viable form of ADR and it does give people another option compared to the traditional ADR approach or litigation. There are some impressive statistics in the article.

For example, a case using CyberSettle takes between 6-12 months while those which do not take an average of 4 years. Yes, 6-12 months compared to 4 years!

CyberSettle’s joint venture with the NYC Comptroller’s offfice received an award in 2007 for Most innovative use of technology in New York City and Business Week selected it in 2005 as a “Top 50 Web Applications of the Year.”

Read the press release [here].

Werner Institute Fall 09 Newsletter

December 16, 2009

The Fall 2009 edition of the Werner Institute Newsletter Win-Win recently was published and I am grateful to them for mentioning my blog. Have a look at the newsletter [here] to read it.

The newsletter is created and distributed each semester and will highlight the news and events of the Werner Institute and it’s community.

You can learn more about the Werner Institute at Creighton University [here].


Emotions in Negotiation

December 14, 2009

Interested in leaving emotions out of your mediation or negotiation? Go ahead mate- let me know how that works out for you!

For those, like me, who realize how important it is to be mindful of emotions in every mediation and negotiation the following audio clip (Note the interview is done by Dr. Josh Weiss, Harvard Program on Negotiation) I think you will find incredibly beneficial. I have read Fisher and Shapiro’s book

Beyond Reason many times and consider it a vital reference tool for preparing for mediations as well as designing any training program I put together.

Fisher and Shapiro mention how five core concerns which can be used to stimulate helpful emotions include (page 204):
Appreciation: This is achieved when you understand the other’s point of view; finding merit in their thoughts, feelings and actions. Oh, and don’t forget to appreciate your thoughts, feelings and actions too!
Affiliation: As the mediator or negotiator, building connections between the two parties helps build rapport and accumulate yeses. Accumulating yeses is a good thing. Why, it helps build rapport. Yes, I just went in a circle and the point is rapport and yeses helps bring parties closer towards working collaboratively and not seeing each other as an adversary.
Autonomy: Very simply, everyone like being part of the decision process and not being told what to do or be given the answer or solution- even when you think it’s the best solution.
Status: Acknowledge people’s status- be it their title at work, in their community, or in the family. I am not saying let it dictate terms or unbalance the playing field but acknowledging people’s status can help the other side move forward in a positive manner.
Role: Include them in the process!
Yes, this is very short and simple for a reason. Listen to the audio link, why bother reading my words when you can hear the author?! I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me.
Remember, these core concerns I think are best view not as separate concerns but seeing how they interplay with each other as well as other concerns.Enjoy the interview [


Inter-Faith Forum Today

December 12, 2009


Inter-Faith Forum

Join my friend and co-director Bee Chen Goh of the Centre for Peace & Social Justice at Southern Cross University at this great event. It is part of a program which featured me earlier this year [see here] and [here].

Date: Sunday, 13 December 2009
Time: 2pm – 3.30pm
Venue: Library Meeting Room
Robina Community Centre

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 through inter-faith understanding.

Special guests of this Program are Rabbi Nir Gurevitch of the Gold Coast Hebrew Congregation, Mr Bhajan Singh Bains, Gold Coast Sikh Priest, and Dr Mohamad Abdalla, Director of the Queensland Branch of the National Centre of Excellence for Islamic Studies, Griffith University.

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: mob: 0434915713

Holiday Gift Ideas!

December 9, 2009

Celebrating the Holidays?

For those looking to get gifts for someone this holiday season, here’s some suggested items that I think possibly will bring a smile to that some-one-special’s face!

Hey, that someone special can even be yourself! (click here to visit)
I use malas to mediate daily. Yes, they are Buddhist tradition based, but I know plenty of people that are not Buddhist and use them to mediate and prayer in their respective language/religion. I often tell people during trainings that an effective skill to communicating is listening and breathing. Well, this mala has helped my often! Plus, you can custom make a mala there as well.


Again, Buddhist or not, this book by the Venerable Yifa is a masterpeice. It is the third book by her and an absolute gem. Read the review [here]

Discernment—the quality of mind that analyzes and perceives accurately the nature of something and then forms a thoughtful and accurate judgment about it—is not something chanced upon or casually adopted. Discernment is a facet of the mature person, of a certain temperament, who can see through the superficial and illusory to the heart of the matter. While relying, to a certain degree, on innate intelligence and curiosity, discernment needs to be cultivated. It requires discipline and education.

Check out her other books [here]
Buy it [here] among many other places.

Milk Frother
For when you run out of money from visiting Australia just for a Flat White (what’s a flat white you ask?? read here), or going broke from visiting Starbucks too often for lattes, you can now froth your milk at home with ease!

Note, this is not the one I have but it looks pretty similar.
Mine works great and really impresses people when they visit my place (so what if it’s only once a year!).

Hey, it could work during a mediation- what better way to call for a break during a tense session than by saying, “Excuse, I have to go froth the milk!”

Read more and possibly buy it [here].