Practical Advice

I spent the week with the family traveling hither and yon for Thanksgiving and here is the advice I leave you with – THE LEFT LANE IS FOR PASSING!!!!

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Conflict Resolution

In the wake of our recent election I thought it might be worth sharing my experience over the last 20 years of serving as a mediator and corporate conflict resolution specialist. Perhaps there is a macro lesson for the country?

When resolving conflict here are my process steps:

  1. I first meet with each person separately and remind them to stop with the personal attacks and name calling. It will not help to resolve the conflict.  Focus on the issue at hand and use specific examples of what’s not working and what change you need to see.  Keep the language neutral and objective.  You can criticize behaviors but not the person.
  2. Control your emotions. An angry person or a person in tears is not someone who has improved their odds of completing a successful conflict resolution session.  To be clear, people have every right to feel the way they do but it won’t help them in resolving conflict.  The more emotion you show in a conflict resolution session the more likely it is that you will trigger the other person’s emotions and then its right back to square one.
  3. The final step is to get both parties together to lay out their complaints using the neutral, specific, objective language with clear behavioral objectives. The three of us then discuss whether or not the changes are doable.  If both parties feel they can make the change then we go back to HR with our written solution signed by both parties.  However, many times both parties agree that the changes will be too hard and we look for a different solution (maybe one goes to a different department.)

That’s it.  Once the emotions are stripped away you are left with practical solutions and choices.

It is worth noting that many, many times when people sit down in these situations they don’t leave the session agreeing with the other person.  But they realize the name calling and emotional outbursts are going to make it harder to resolve the conflict.

Lastly, after 20 years of listening to people and their stories you quickly realize that judging other people is an exercise in moral relativity.  There is no absolute right answer. People do the best they can and often times their efforts come up woefully short and even cause significant damage, but when viewed  in the context of their life you understand why they behave the way they do and are left humbled by the experience.  I am not sure I could have done any better in their shoes.

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Will Power is a Myth

I have been saying for years that will power is a random setting in your body driven by genetics similar to your height or eye color. It has absolutely no bearing on your integrity (whatever that is) or character.   Here is an interesting article furthering that discussion.  Give it a read you might find yourself with a little more motivational energy today because you did!


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A Day in the Life of a Personality Trait

If you are reading this blog then you know about my contention that the majority of our success and/or failures with others comes from the alignment of our innate personality traits.  Today’s case in point:

I thrive on appreciation and my wife loves efficiency (she did not marry well).  Today my mercurial nature briefly coalesced around the desire to take out the recycling bin, so I did. Upon entering the house I declared that she no longer had to worry about taking out the recycling bin since I had dispatched with that tedious task.

I paused and awaited for my well earned accolades to begin flowing from my wife’s mouth but to my dismay I heard the following, “You should wait till tonight because there is more recycling that has to go out after dinner and now we will have to make an extra trip.” (Author’s note – when she says “We” she means me.)

One trait values effort the other efficiency and no amount of therapy or medication will change that.

This is how personality theory plays out in the real world countless times during the day.   Can you find it in your house?  Better to see it and laugh vs. make it personal and get angry.





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Interesting book review, Mom and Dad Chill Out, from two anthropologists who studied  varied cultural norms of child rearing from around the globe .  A quote from the book, “The expert advice that parents attend to has grossly exaggerated the influence of parenting on child development.”

Here is the review from today’s Wall Street Journal.


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Original Motivational Quote from Motivational Expert Tim Hoyle

You can do it!

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The amount of conscientiousness a person displays at any given moment is an indicator of whether or not the person feels they are working from a position of strength and abundance or weakness and scarcity.


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Trust is a decision to put yourself at risk based on other peoples actions


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Never Up Never In

“Only then did he show any sign that he might be anything other than a sane, willful, dogged man performing a hard duty that finally just had to be done, like it or not.” – Ken Kesey, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest

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