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Mediation On-Line

A Newsletter from ADR Resources
Volume 5, No. 6 (April 2002)


Stephen R. Marsh Picture


Haven't heard any comments about my extra faq section at  I expected a few comments about the typos, if nothing else. (Moretti Barbara - Dip. dei Sistemi Giuridici ed Economici) is a criminologist working with a research team of the University of Milano-Bicocca, Milan, Italy.  They just won a  fellowship for a research in a new field: "From punitive system to restarative-oriented systems: structural patterns, applicative paradigms, deflation potentiality of victim-offender mediation".  They want to focus on victim-offender mediation program for serious crime such as sexual violence. No research has been done on this field in Italy.  Anyone with advice or suggested readings is asked to please contact them at

The Recommended Books of the Month:

I am recommending Understanding Complexity:  Thought and Behavior by John Warfield.  You can order it at

For anyone thinking of law school, I am also recommending the new edition of Planet Law School by Atticus Falcon.  He's almost finished, so it should be out soon.

Interesting new Mediation & ADR (and other) web sites:

Educational Programs / News and Book Reviews/Books/Periodicals:

The Dispute Resolution Institute (DRI) at Hamline University School of Law seeks an individual with expertise and experience in the field of dispute resolution to be a two year Post-Graduate Fellow. The Graduate Fellow will assist the DRI Director and Associate Director to design, implement, and coordinate activities of the Institute, including its three international and five domestic programs. The Fellow also will assist in ongoing development/refinement and coordination of ADR-related initiatives throughout the law school, including ADR integration efforts in the first year curriculum and legal writing programs. Finally, the Fellow will support ongoing research and scholarship initiatives of DRI faculty and be encouraged to publish at least one law review article on an ADR topic of interest during the Fellowship.

Pay is $31,000.00 a year. If you are interested, write:  Kitty Atkins, Associate Director, Dispute Resolution Institute, Hamline University School of Law, 1536 Hewitt Avenue, St. Paul, MN 55104

Current Issues:

The next federal step has begun.  The EEOC is taking over the post office mediation services.  Interestingly enough this does not mean an end to the use of outside contractors. The program has already been phased into EEOC field office hearing units in Florida, Pennsylvania, Michigan, Indiana, and parts of Texas.

A Guest Essay by Thomas Jordan:

Dear listmembers,

I have compiled seven guidelines for constructive conflict management. I have tried to pick out the most helpful advice that can be given to people who are dealing with conflict situations, striking a balance between the need to be concise and the wish to go beyond the trivial.

I could use some help from native speakers to point out awkward formulations and suggest better ones. Of course I would also appreciate comments on the content and how it can be improved.

You are free to use this is if you find it helpful (even post it on your own website) as long as you don't modify the text without my permission.

Best wishes,

Thomas Jordan


Seven guidelines for handling conflicts constructively

1. Ask yourself what it is you don't know yet. Keep in mind that you don't know what story is foremost in other people's minds. Each individual has his or her own story about what is important and why. Insight into these different stories can make a great difference for how you and other people handle the conflict. Take on conflict situations with an intention to understand more about what is going on. Ask open-ended questions, questions that help you to understand the background of the conflict better. People's images of what is significant in specific situations are important causes to how they behave. These images can change. Remember also to remain open to learning new things about yourself and how other people perceive you. Maybe other parties feel that you have contributed more to the problems than you are aware of.

2. Separate problem and person. Formulate the conflict issues as shared problems that you have to solve cooperatively. Abstain from blaming and voicing negative opinions about others. State clearly what you feel and want and invite your counterpart to help finding solutions. Opinions and emotions should be expressed in ways that facilitate the process of achieving satisfying outcomes. Keep in mind that there is always some kind of positive intention behind people's actions, even if unskillfully expressed.

3. Be clear, straightforward and concrete in you communication. State clearly what you have seen, heard and experienced that influenced your views in the matter at hand. Tell the other person what is important to you, why you find it important, what you feel and what you hope for. Express you own emotions and frustrated needs in clear and concrete words. Ask for the counterpart's feelings and needs in a way that conveys that you care about them.

4. Maintain the contact with your counterpart. Breaking off the contact with the counterpart in a conflict often leads to a rapid conflict escalation. Do what you can to keep the communication going. Work to improve your relationship even if there are conflict issues that seem impossible to resolve. Offer to do something small that meets one of your counterpart's wishes and suggest small things your counterpart can do to meet your own needs and wishes. Even if marginal, such acts can strenghten the hope that it will be possible to change the nature of the relationship in a positive direction.

5. Look for the needs and interests that lie behind concrete standpoints. Bargaining about standpoints often leads to stalemates or unsatisfying solutions. Inquire into what needs and interests would be satisfied by certain concrete demands and explore if there are alternative and mutually acceptable ways of satisfying those needs and interests. Regard blaming, accusations and negative opinions as unskillful ways of expressing emotions. Show understanding for the feelings of the counterpart without letting yourself be provoked by the attacks you are the target for. Inquire into what is really important and significant for yourself and keep those values and needs in mind during the course of the conflict.

6. Make it easy for your counterpart to be constructive. Avoid triggering the defensiveness of your counterpart by blaming, accusing, criticizing and diagnosing. Extend appreciation and respect for the counterpart where you can do so sincerely. Show you counterpart that you care about the issues and needs that are important to him or her. Take responsibility for your own contributions to the conflict events.

7. Develop your ability to look at the conflict from the outside. Review the conflict history in its entirety. Notice what kinds of actions influence the tensions of the conflict in positive and negative directions. Take care to develop your awareness of how you can influence the further course of events in the conflict in a constructive direction. Test your own image of what is going on by talking with impartial persons. Assume responsibility for what happens. Take on problems you see as early as possible, before they have a chance to develop into major conflict issues.

Thomas Jordan

Compiled from:

FISHER, R. & URY, W. (1981) Getting to yes. Negotiating agreement without giving in, Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co.

GLASL, F. (1999) Confronting conflict. A first-aid kit for handling conflict, Stroud: Hawthorne Press.

ROSENBERG, M. (1999) Nonviolent Communication: A Language of Compas-sion, PuddleDancer Press.

STEINWEG, R. (1999) Arbeitsklima und Konfliktpotential, Erfahrungen aus ober-öster-reichischen Betrieben, WISO Dokumente, Heft 45, Linz: Institut für Sozial- und Wirtschaftswissenschaften.

STONE, D., PATTON, B. & HEEN, S. (1999) Difficult conversations. How to discuss what matters most, New York: Penguin Books.

Submissions to

As always, I am interested in any submissions or articles anyone would like to have posted on the web -- and I am glad to be able to point them out in this newsletter.  I prefer to post material as you have written it, with no editorial changes by myself.  I should also note that I am changing my service provider, so that is the best e-mail address to use to reach me.

With my best regards, I remain,

Sincerely yours,

Stephen Marsh
Additional material is sometimes included in the on-line version.
If you are curious where the term/name Ethesis comes
from, visit

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If for some reason you wish to be removed from my periodical mailings please let me know. If I'm sending anyone extra copies or sending it to anyone who shouldn't be getting it, please let me know. This e-mail mailing list is supposed to be limited only people who would be interested and who have subscribed.  Thanks for your patience and help.

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