How do you view Conflict?




Trasformative Mediation Model

Here is why I am so excited about utilizing the Transformative Mediation Model.  The Transformative model allows us to assume: 1. That the general intent of most humans is to be good and 2. We are all intimately connected to one another.  Think about this in terms of what type of legacy most of us which to leave.  Make a short mental list of what you hope your legacy to be.  Personally, I would hope that I would be remembered as being helpful and caring.

Following these assumptions, we can narrow our scope of the mediation to the Conflict Cycle specifically.  By focusing on the conflict cycle, the mediator can assist in surfacing the participants insecurities, fears, and so on, as related to the conflict and this allows small shifts from the destructive cycle toward a place of strength and openness.  This may seem similar to other mediation models, but here is the exciting part:  You simply allow the parties to have a conversation; Open and fluent.  Parties are allowed to fully express their ideas and feelings with their words and their emphasis and the mediator should also capture those emotions and feelings with the same emphasis.  By reflecting back their specific words and capturing the intensity of those words creates a space of self-empowerment for the parties.   No need for the “by in” here either.  The effectiveness of reflection and capturing the emotions of parties, allow parties to feel comfortable, and see the potential in themselves and the process.

If you have an interest in learning more about the transformative mediation process, my friend and fellow Mediator, Dan Simon, is hosting a training this July 27-29:

Transformative Mediation Training Starts 2/28 in Pasadena, CA

Simon_bannerPresents Advanced Mediation Training


Transformative mediation addresses conflict at its most important level. The transformative mediator supports parties in their own efforts to improve their interaction as they discuss their conflict which can lead to relationships being preserved


WHEN:        Feb. 28 through, March 2 2013 from 9:00 A.M. to 6:00 P.M. daily

WHERE:       New Apostolic Church*, 814 East Claremont Street, Pasadena, CA   91104

FEE:           $995.00 with MCLE credit(24 MCLE’s, including 4 ethics and 1 elim. of bias)

                   FREE Parking on the street or in the church lot and Lunch each day

RESERVE your seat today!  Space is limited.  Contact 651.699.5000 (Visa and MC accepted) or by check to: 

Twin Cities Mediation

790 Cleveland Ave. S. #204

Saint Paul, MN 55116

ABOUT Dan Simon:

People love this course!  See what they are saying here!

Successful Leaders= Successful Business

In typical business structure, there is a hierarchy.  The hierarchy allows for a clear understanding of One’s place within an organization and sets in place a path of communication from top to bottom and vice-verse.  The question is: Whether the leaders within the hierarchy utilize the structure to supports the mission and goals of the organization or if they simply act as the proverbial iron fist, causing fear and strain in the workplace.

Crossed arms, snarling looks and a reputation for being difficult doesn’t translate into a CEO,  Executive Director or Manager  who is a leader.  Behavior such as walking by fellow colleagues without as much as “hello” or at least a nod of your head sends the message to subordinates, that they are unimportant and expendable.  This is dangerous stance for persons in organizational leadership roles, because the people can make or break a business.  Employees who enjoy their job, feel valued and have solid commutative relationships with their fellow colleagues, tend to be more loyal to not only the company, but to their supervisor/s.  The argument from the supervisor’s position might be that they conduct themselves in this manor to create clear subordinate-supervisor boundaries.  Yet, if the boundaries established in this manor simply isolate a boss from their staff, create environments of stress and even fear, then it’s not boundaries you have established, but tyranny.  Effective flows of communication include the common element of respect.  Respect must be bilateral in the context of a safe environment.  Clear boundaries in a supervisor-subordinate should be built on these elements rather that scare tactics.

A superior may set the precedence that although s/he holds this position of power, they are aware that the organization cannot be the best it can be unless staff as whole can also be their best.  Provide opportunities (staff meetings) and forums that permit staff to offer up potential issues they foresee from their unique perspective as well as plausible solutions.  Allowing employees to express themselves, shows that their opinions as well as their role.  Discuss that from time to time all involved may not agree, and that is alright, because it is part of the process.  Vested employees will go above and beyond when they are integrated as a vital part of the organization.

Be aware of obstacles hindering the communication process.  Think of the game telephone.  The message begins clear and on point, but in its course of traveling from mouth piece to mouth piece you may end up with an entirely different message.  Avoid miscommunications due to messages lost in translation.  Electronic messaging is a great avenue to allow easy communications, plus they are in writing and can be reviewed by readers at any time.    A direct channel for communication supports a leadership stance of accessibility.

Considerations such as who is operating in key organizational roles, the method in which information is being conveyed from top to bottom, as well as how the message is received play a vital role in organizational success.  True Leaders find value in those around them and have the ability to bring out the best in others rendering success of all constituents.

Dude v. Stooge

Each generation has its own unique catch phrases, dialect, and slang but when generational differences collide in business or even personal instances, conflict can occur.  Below is a true story, only names were changed:

Jack works a second job in the evenings to assist in supporting his family.  Jack was born in the era of The Andy Griffith Show, The Three Stooges, and Leave it to Beaver.  Jack’s supervisor, Todd, is twenty years younger than Jack.  He grew up jamming to eighties music, riding skateboards, and is a “cool dude.”

On Jack’s first day, Todd approached Jack to greet him saying “Hey dude.”

Jack was not sure how to take this and the more he thought about it the more it bothered him.  Time went by and Todd continued to refer to Jack as “dude” and Jack’s discontent continued to grow.  After several months passed, Todd sees Jack and greets him with his usual “Hey dude.”  On this day, however instead of Jack’s usual hello, Jack turns and responds to Todd by saying:

“Hey Stooge.”

Todd stood there dumb founded and asks “Stooge?”

“Yes, Stooge” Jack replied. “Like the Three Stooges.”

“I don’t think I like that” Todd replied.

“And I do not like being called dude” said Jack.

“I call all of my friends, dude” said Todd.

“And I call my friends Stooge” said Jack.


Todd realized that just as much as he detested being called stooge, Jack also disliked being referred to as dude.  Needless to say, neither one refers to the other as dude or stooge. 

It is important to recognize generational differences and to be cognizant of what dialect you are incorporating when communicating with others outside you generation.

Peer Mediation Programs; A Must in Schools

As a mediator and parent, Conflict Resolution Skills are life skills and a vital part to a student’s emotional and social development. Whether the conflict be external or interpersonal, it is highly useful to be prepared to handle conflict in a productive manner.  Bully prevention and zero tolerance bullying policies are frequently mentioned in our public school systems, yet the support and emphasis of conflict resolution curriculum to uphold these expectations seem to falter.  We teach our children how to read, but they first must learn their ABC’s and similarly, if we expect students to comprehend bullying prevention then we must also guarantee they are prepared with conflict resolution skills and techniques.  By establishing a clear path to approaching conflict situations and providing students an opportunity to be stakeholders as peer mediators in resolving disputes, we create an opportunity for future generations to address conflict in a responsible and educated fashion.

Setting uniform expectation of approaching conflicts on campus allows for staff, teachers and students to have an understanding of what will happen when conflicts arise.  On the John Adams Middle School Campus, the peer mediation program inspired the use of the “I” message statement.   The “I” message is expressed as follows:

I feel_________

when you________


and would like__________

This simple message was adopted not only by students utilizing the peer mediation program on campus, but began appearing on the front of teacher’s classrooms, in the counseling office, and even  the administration adopted this common language.  Although, this phenomenon occurred organically at John Adams, it is simple to see how easy it is to utilize.   If students, staff and teachers have an expectation that an “I” message is the first step in addressing conflict situations, all parties are vested with a mutual understanding, responsibility and expectation.  Formulating a curriculum based plan of action for the entire school community to address conflict shows the collective effort back up No Bullying Policies on campus.  Once expectations have been set; make sure proper support is given to uphold the expectation.  Provide students an opportunity to assist in the resolution processes through peer mediation programs.

Perhaps when a conflict or bullying issue arises, students may be given an alternative to administrative punishment, such as mediation.  The Center for Civic Mediation, a non-profit organization, currently is active and onsite in five Los Angeles County schools.  The peer mediation programs are established under the supervision of a Center staff member and volunteers in conjunction with school staff, administration and students.  A core group of students on a campus are recruited and undergo basic mediation training including conflict resolution skills and techniques.  These student mediators then co-mediate disputes among their own peers.  The foundations of the process being voluntary, the role of the co-mediators neutral nature in viewing the dispute and that what is discussed or agreed in the mediation is confidential, allows for open fluent conversations in a safe and meaningful way.  Students who are a party to a particular conflict are more open in sharing, discussing, and suggesting solutions with a peer mediator over an adult administrator.   Discussion as to why the incident occurred, how it should be handled, possible solutions and what will the situation look like if a similar occurrence is to happen.  Implementing a program on campus where students are positioned as stake holders and given the responsibility to assist their fellow students is resolving their own conflicts is truly amazing.  I think of how empowering it is for a student who is able to evaluate a conflict situation and handle it with confidence.  According to the Dean Hilbert of Carnegie Middle School, just in the programs first year suspensions were reduced by 67%.  Previously labeled “at risk” students have found a home in the peer mediation program and now are finding reward in assisting their fellow students through conflict resolution methods.  “I used to be a bully and pick fights at school, but learning peer mediation has changed my life.” Said one Center for Civic Mediation Peer Mediator.  Peer mediation works because students make agreements of how to resolve a particular conflict and design a unique and workable solution of their creation, not by being told what to do.

Whether it is adopting a peer mediation model on campus, having regular workshops for students and staff or creating activities that demonstrate effective communication in conflict situations, it is clear that emphasis on Conflict Resolution curriculum can translate in to more peaceful and cooperative school communities.   I think of so many tragedies that have occurred in American schools over the last fifteen years and can’t help but wonder if the outcomes would be the same if Conflict Resolution techniques and skills were more recognized as vitally important aspect of school curriculum.  Our students are our future leaders and if they can become ambassadors of peace, I can only imagine what a different world it would be.

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Why I Pro Bono

Since 2008, I have regularly volunteered in various programs both on a personal and professional level.  Whether it is assisting DV victims in the capacity of a paralegal, coaching soccer, or acting as a Neutral, I find my experiences diverse, refreshing, and rewarding.

All of the programs I volunteer with are non-profit organizations and they are always thankful for the help.  I have a special admiration for non-profit because in these hard economic times, they have to work twice as hard to accomplish their missions’.  I find it comforting to know that there are still organizations out there that truly see an obligation to society rather than simple personal gain.  The more I volunteer, the more I realize how impactful each opportunity is for me.  Not only does volunteering make me a better legal professional, but a better individual.  For that I am thankful and that is Why I Pro Bono!

My Intro to the Paralegal World

I began my journey in the legal field in 2008. I was in the process of obtaining my ABA paralegal certification, and began searching for opportunities to gain hands on experience. I was fortunate enough to gain an internship with Los Angeles County Bar Association’s Domestic Violence Project. Under direction of the project’s supervising attorney, Deborah Kelly, I began assisting in pro per clients with DV temporary restraining orders and declarations. I am generally an empathetic person and initially was not sure how I would cope the clients accounts of abuse. I remembered telling myself, if this individual has the courage to try to change their situation, then I intern could be professional and keep my own emotions in check. Some days were certainly easier than others.  On average, 30 to 50 clients utilize the DV project’s services.  For the project staff, interns, and volunteer this requires extreme efficiency. Filing deadlines of the court, language barriers and the high emotional state of clients are not always easy to handle.

As a paralegal intern, you spend a short time with the client going through the DV forms and begin to learn more about the instances of abuse; Past and current. Clients breakdown in tears, and some bare marks physical abuse. Each story is unique, yet themes of control, uncontrollable anger, and a sense of no way out still linger in my mind even now.

I cannot begin to express the relief on the faces of clients who were granted a Temporary Restraining Orders. Perhaps it is just the relief, or maybe it is a step toward healing and the hope that peace can be restored in their lives.

I think of DV victims that never had that same opportunity and hope that those who find themselves stuck in a DV situation can find the strength to speak up for themselves.

For more information visit Domestic Violence Project or victims may seek assistance in the following locations:

Los Angeles Superior Court                Pasadena Superior Court
Department 8, Room 245                   Room 100B
111 N. Hill Street                               300 E. Walnut Street
Los Angeles, CA 90012                      Pasadena, CA 91101
Monday-Friday                                  Monday-Friday
8:30-11:30a.m. and 1:30.-3:30p.m.    8:30-11:30a.m.