Archive for the ‘communication tips’ Category

Good Job Ari!

November 9, 2009

Great job Ari!

Honorable Mention was awarded to Ari Fontecchio of the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law for his essay entitled “Naming, Framing and Taming: Why Timing and Emotional Intelligence Really Matter in Crisis Intervention.

Ari interviewed me months ago on how I, along with the entire NYPD Community Affairs Bureau, used various conflict resolution skills during the emotionallly charged Tibetan Protests in New York City during the Spring of 2008.

Below is an exerpt of his paper. You can read the entire paper (which you should!) [here] and read the official announcement [here].
The Boskey Dispute Resolution Essay Competition honors the memory of James B. Boskey, humanitarian, Seton Hall University law professor, and mediator, who became known and beloved world-over for his publication of The Alternative Newsletter, a resource guide on ADR published quarterly.
The Boskey Dispute Resolution Essay Competition is a project of the ABA Section of Dispute Resolution’s Law Schools Committee, learn more. The Essay Competition is chaired by Professor Jean Sternlight, Saltman Professor, UNLV Boyd School of Law & Director, Saltman Center for Conflict Resolution.

From the paper (starting at page 20)
A. Protests
In March 2008, Tibetan protesters gathered outside the Chinese Consulate in Manhattan,
echoing cries in Lhasa, Tibet to end occupation by the Chinese government.94 During a month of protesting, the crowd ranged from 500 to 1000 protesters, and in its most escalated moment,
protesters broke through police barricades, throwing rocks through windows of the Consulate.95
Remarkably, using integrative techniques such as framing, matching, and re-framing, the New
York Police Department in conjunction with its Community Affairs Bureau (“CAB”) brought the
protest to a peaceful resolution, completely avoiding escalation to a riot.96
Jeff Thompson, an NYPD officer in the Special Projects Unit of the Community Affairs
Bureau and an expert in cultural outreach in the Tibetan community, was on the front lines.97
Prior to the conflict, Thompson had begun building relationships within the Tibetan community,
which helped him and other CAB officers recognize the ways in which the protesters framed the
conflict. Thompson’s relationships with the Executive Boards of various Tibetan organizations
and with monks and monastics from the spiritual community helped him identify the
stakeholders during the conflict and teach him about the deep-seated historical conflicts between the Chinese and Tibetan cultures.98

In this way, Thompson and his colleagues had already fashioned a strong third side99 that they could leverage during the large-scale conflict to come. Additionally, this network of relationships familiarized Thompson and his fellow officers with the Tibetans’ concept of cultural identity, or their attunement frames.100 This armed CAB with the ability to mirror and match the protesters’ frames even as tempers flared in front of the Chinese Consulate.

For example, during the protest, Thompson spoke into the megaphone using Tibetan phrases and prayers,101 demonstrating an ability to match the Tibetans’ cultural awareness. This technique of matching proved so effective that over the course of the twentytwo day conflict, protesters came to endearingly call Thompson “om mani padme hum,”102 the introduction to a prayer Thompson repeated to demonstrate cultural understanding.103 Once he had successfully matched the protesters’ attunement frame, he was able to move towards reframing the conflict towards de-escalation and eventually to resolution.
To do so, Thompson and his colleagues brought in high-ranking monks to stand beside them during the protest’s peak where police barricades were breached.104 While protesters had a tendency, at first, to view CAB as an opposing stakeholder in the conflict, having monks by the
sides of the officers send visual cues of neutrality, which had a calming effect on the protesters.
By enhancing the strength of the third side, Thompson and his colleagues were more likely to be
viewed as neutral mediators—standing next to spiritually revered monks—rather than firstperson negotiators, hostile to the interests of the Tibetans.

Ultimately, through the efforts of CAB and other NYPD officers, a resolution was reached where a highly respected monk sang a prayer of solidarity over the megaphone, and at its conclusion, the crowd agreed to disband.105

The critical aspect in reaching this resolution was the officers’ ability to convince the
protesters that Thompson and his colleagues were not entirely stakeholders, or negotiators
representing the city, but that they were mediators at the core of a strong third side, an extension of the mediator. The officers’ ability to contain the protest and prevent a riot, can be traced in no small part to their ability to time this transition between roles, and to wait for a moment of crystallization where taming the conflict became possible through properly matching the protesters’ attunement frame.

94 Chronology: Day-by-Day Record of Tibet Protests, REUTERS, Mar. 20, 2008, available at
95 Thompson, supra note 3.
96 Id.
97 Id.
98 Id.
99 The third side in this case was comprised of numerous stakeholders in the conflict, including the police department, patrol officers, various Tibetan groups and an entire hierarchy of monks and monastics from the spiritual community.
100 See supra text accompanying notes 52-57.
101 Specifically, Thompson repeatedly recited, “Om Mani Padme Hum,” a well known Tibetan chant for inner peace.
102 The meaning of this mantra is difficult to translate into English, but its effect is to calm those who speak and hear it, “invok[ing] the powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig, the embodiment of compassion.
Viewing the written form of the mantra is said to have the same effect.”, Om Mani Padme Hum: The Meaning of the Mantra in Tibetan Buddhism, (last visited Apr. 20, 2009).
103 Jeff Thompson, supra note 95.
104 Id.

NYPD & The 3 C’s: Communication, Community & Cricket

July 8, 2009

Thinking Outside the Box?

NYPD (New York City Police Department) UNITED Soccer and NYPD Cricket are two programs which I (the NYPD Community Affairs Bureau) created to reach out to the young men primarily in the Muslim community as a way to create communication and understanding between the Police and the community.

With the mindset of a practicing ADR professional, I created both programs as a genuine way to reach out to the young men of the communities as soccer and cricket are the sports they play. We (the NYPD) feel it is a great way to breakdown barriers and generate understanding– all while having fun!

I would like to share with everyone an article the New York Times wrote on our Cricket program (it was even mentioned on the front page!).

The article is [here] and a great corresponding NYT’s video is [here].

If you are interested you can learn more about the programs here: As an example of reaching out to the audience, we even created a twitter account (, a YouTube page ( and a blog type site.

Just added- the CNN news segment covering the NYPD Cricket program (see below).

Embedded video from CNN Video

Golden Nuggets

May 25, 2009

I decided to post some of the quick but important tips under the title ‘golden nuggets’. Why, firstly because it’s my blog and I do what i want! Secondly, and a bit more seriously, that is what I feel they are; short postings containing valuable information.

Today’s edition is if you pressed for time to give out your most valuable tips on communication, what would it be?

Tip one: I would say listen to what others are saying, don’t just ‘hear them’. Listening to them gives you valuable information and when you want more, ask an open ended question. Listen more than you speak.

Tip two would be when you do speak, chose your words and how you say them very carefully.

Tip three would be do not let emotions get the best of you. Stay calm, be the peace you want to see in others! Letting emotions get the best of you prevents you from fully being present to listen effectively and even worse, you will most say things you did not want to say.

What would you say?

The Ombuds Office at the University of Hawaii (talk about a dream job!) gives out these three tips (from here):

What you say and how you say it
*Use neutral language. Describe what you saw or heard. What sights and sounds would a video cam have recorded? “Edit out” any judgment, criticism or interpretation of what was seen or heard. * Own the message. I feel, I wish, I hope, I would like to ask. Let the conversation be about your needs or values, not what is (perceived to be) wrong with the other person, or what that person did or did not do.

What you hear and how you hear it
*Try to empathize with what the other person is feeling. By offering empathy you are simply creating a connection with the person – not stating that you agree with what was done or said.
*Acknowledge and make sure you understand the information being given to you. It’s often helpful to repeat what you heard to make sure you got it right.

What you do with the information
*Seek to understand the interests (needs, values, wants) of the other person. Ask for help in understanding why they are important to him or her.
*Search for common ground and a better future. Focus on what is desirable and possible now – you can’t negotiate the past.

Check out their great site [here]

Today’s Quote

May 1, 2009

“It is better to be thought a fool than to open your mouth and remove all doubt.”

That is the quote of the day. What does it mean to me? Perhaps, if you have nothing good to say, don’t say anything. Or maybe, silence is golden.

For me, it is a nice reminder to take a breath. Sometimes a deep breathe, sometimes just a simple normal breath. I do that before I speak. You know what, sometimes after doing that, I realize I do not really have to say what I planned on saying. As a mediator, I remind myself, “it’s their process, not mine”. Yes, it’s cliche but it is also true.

The quote reminds me to respond, not react.

I mention often the importance of communication, especially the things we do not say but our actions, movements, body language, etc. That said, it goes without saying it is really important to remember that our words help direct a mediation (as the mediator) as our words shine through to the parties without a filter attached.

Our words spoken cannot be taken back. Be it as a mediator or a negotiator, friend or co-worker. It doesn’t matter if you are drunk or sober (take my word, don’t try it at home!).
So, it is Friday and to keep it brief, choose your words wisely, enjoy your weekend!

Communication in Mediation: Tips

April 1, 2009

Communication in Mediation: Tips

I found this PDF file from the law firm Blaney McMurtry LLP (Toronto, Canada) while writing the 7 Elements of Negotiation, Part 6: Communication (LINK). It has a list of tips for communicating during mediation.

From the sheet, they are:

Effective Listening

  1. Attention
  2. Paraphrasing and Summarizing
  3. Ask clarifying questions

Effective Speaking

  1. Focus on the problem, not the person
  2. Speak from your own perspective
  3. Speak directly to the other person
  4. Be specific
  5. Build for the future
  6. Focus on common interests, not positions
  7. Create options for mutual gain

…And finally, foster an atmosphere of cooperation and collaboration.

For more details on each of them, download the file [here] and you can also visit their site [here].