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Mediation On-Line

A Newsletter from ADR Resources
Volume 5, No. 9 (July -August 2002)
From: s r marsh @ adrr . com


Stephen R. Marsh Picture


I am going to keep with the every other month format for a while.  Things are just really busy.

If you are interested in Crisis Intervention Training with the Texas State Certificate (it is a forty hour class), there is an upcoming program (in the Dallas metroplex area) that starts August 12 and runs evenings and weekends.  The cost is $20.00 to cover refreshments and written materials.  Call Brandy Matthews at 972-985-0951.

I should note that with a great deal of help from and their gateway program ("put CRinfo on your site") I have completely revamped my link index page.  Take a look at for the improvements.

The Recommended Books of the Month:

I'm recommending some "e-bulletins" at  Visit the site and read the e-bulletins on Public Dispute Resolution in NC and you will see why I am recommending them.

Also recommended is the Latin American Journal for Mediation and Arbitration.  The Journal is free, available at

Interesting new Mediation & ADR (and other) web sites

Educational Programs / News and Book Reviews/Books/Periodicals

Gary Lilienthal wrote an interesting article on how to determine whether a matter is suitable for mediation.  While I wish he had permission to allow dual publication (in print, and on a web site), I plan to recommend the article when it sees print and I have a citation for it.

BTW, I'm aware of Missouri's funding problems and the people who are going to leave, but the remaining program still strikes me as by far the best in the country.  I am also very impressed by Hamline's ethos and the potential there.  I am still recommending Missouri to those who are seeking an advanced degree and can commit to the time for an LLM but not a PhD.  For PhDs, I am waiting to see how things develop at the University of Texas at Dallas.  I've got some high hopes for what they are considering.

If you are interested in an LLM from an English institution, contact Dr Frank Faulkner, Division of Law, University of Derby, Kedleston Road , DERBY, DE22 1GB, UK "Frank Faulkner" <>.  Derby is interested in forging links and creating connections with academics and practitioners.

"Steven N. Pyser, Esq." <> is interested in how to incorporate (quote) "THE ROLE OF SPIRITUALITY IN CONFLICT RESOLUTION" into instructional design."  Please contact him with ideas.

esemplastic (es-em-PLAS-tik) adjective, having the capability of moulding diverse ideas or things into unity -- that is a good word for a mediator to have ready.

Frank Hanna has decided to branch out in his training endeavors.  For more visit

Current Issues

I received an e-mail that stated as follows:  "This past Friday I attended a Seminar sponsored by the Dallas Bar Association. The topic was: RELIGION AND CONFLICT RESOLUTION presented by Larry Sullivan, Pepperdine University (who was outstanding).  There was a fabulous panel comprised of a Jewish Rabbi, a Muslim leader (Phd From Harvard), and an Episcopal Bishop).  In addition, the luncheon keynote speaker was a multi-talented attorney who had a long list of credits. He was very enlightening and his statistical information was overwhelming.  ONE IMPORTANT POINT HE MADE WAS: Learn the SPANISH language. The demographics, the world of work, etc., will absolutely require Spanish and in a much shorter period of time than previously predicted. He further advised our children begin early."

Another current issue is the Middle East.  It was trying to prepare for a transfer to the American Embassy in Jordan from Austria in the 1960s that put my grandfather under the pressure that caused his career ending heart attacks. (He was retired on full disability and expected to die.  Of course once he retired he lived a very long time in great health).  I'm not going to offer opinions, just cite to things that are "interesting" (because I can't bring myself to endorse anything beyond the perspective it provides of someone else's viewpoint).  

Also, The US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is seeking an individual or firm to determine why a high percentage of respondents decline to participate in the EEOC's Mediation Program, and to identify and evaluate possible modifications to the current convening process.  To find out more, contact the Contracting Office Address Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Office of the Chief Financial Officer & Administrative Services, Procurement Management Division, 1801 L Street, N.W., Room 2505, Washington, DC, 20507 or point of contact Kenneth Janiak, Director, Phone (202) 663-4222, Fax (202) 663-4178, Email kenneth.janiak@eeoc.govCharles E. Rumbaugh, Esq

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. is the best e-mail address to use to reach me, though I sometimes am not able to check my e-mail for 3 or 4 days.

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

Back issues at

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.

here is a revised version, with a number of improvements.



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 reasons for their actions. These images can change, thereby changing the parties' attitudes and actions. 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. Make a distinction between the problem and the 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 in 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 your 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 your own emotions and frustrated needs in clear and concrete words. Ask for the counterpart's fears 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 positions. Bargaining about positions 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 other party without letting yourself be provoked by their attacks. 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 your 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 Compassion, PuddleDancer Press.

STEINWEG, R. (1999) Arbeitsklima und Konfliktpotential, Erfahrungen aus oberösterreichischen 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.

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