Online Course: Learning to develop conflict-intelligence
Instructor: Diane Cohen
This course is individualized and designed to help participants learn the skills necessary to increase constructive interactions and decrease destructive conflict in all walks of life: business, family and personal. The following basic information is provided to participants and to the general public, free of charge. As participants try to incorporate these suggestions into their lives, they are encouraged to note areas of challenge and contact the instructor by email or telephone. The first email exchange is free of charge. Subsequent emails and telephone calls are $50 per exchange or call. Lengthy telephone calls can involve an additional fee. Emails regarding information about the program or pricing are always free of charge. Additional learning tools are offered as well.
My belief is that although human interactions are difficult to navigate, the way to be successful at them can be summarized briefly. I do not argue, however, that putting these practices into action is a simple matter. Becoming better at conflict management is a difficult and ongoing process and requires dedication. However, it does not require a long set of rules. I have pared down the list to five items that should be kept in mind, considered, worked on, tweaked, made one’s own, re-thought about, and ultimately adopted subconsciously.
At first, some of the basic points may sound too “nice” or too “touchy feely”. But the secret of those who interact well with others and who are able to head off and resolve destructive conflict, while allowing constructive conflict to flourish, is that they engender cooperation from the other person by considering the other person’s views, perspectives and feelings, and at the same time keeping their own views, perspectives and feelings in mind. I do not advocate selflessness. One must consider oneself and the other person at the same time.
Because learning is highly individual, my belief is that the best way to learn this or many skills, is to have a basic understanding of the subject matter, and then ask questions to clarify your understanding, and to focus on the areas that are uniquely difficult for that particular individual.
As a result, I have structured this course to be highly individualistic. The basic learning is summarized in five points, with brief explanations. After trying to work with these points, individuals will have particular challenges and questions. These can be brought to the instructor, who will answer them and further the individualized learning process.
Please note that I do not guarantee any results. I intend the course to be constructive, but any learning derived from the course is used and applied at your own risk and should be tempered with your own common sense and understanding of your relationships.
The writing set forth herein, including the course description and the Basic Information is the property of Diane Cohen and may not be reproduced without her permission.
The Basic Information is provided free of charge. I suggest a system for using it, however, which I believe will provide a vastly superior and individualized learning experience. The course may be taken for as long or as briefly as you wish. It is self-paced. I suggest that it be followed for four weeks.
Pricing is reasonable. No charge is made for the Basic Information. Anyone may use and apply the learning on his or her own, to the extent that it is helpful. A charge is made for review of written material, and responses to email. My input as an instructor, a mentor and one experienced in conflict resolution, is important, however, in the learning of this subject. I offer suggestions about how to use this material and my services, but each user is free to contact me as little or as often as possible; and to do the individual work as much or as little as possible. I believe that results can ensue from even a little time spent on this, but of course, much greater results are likely to follow a greater devotion of time and effort.
Pricing is as follows:
$50 per email exchange (see step three below). First email exchange is free of charge, so you can try this out for free. Emails with questions regarding how the course works or how to make payment are always free of charge Emails should be addressed to Diane@DianeCohenMediation.com;
Additional services for deeper learning:
(b) $100 to read and respond to any one page summary of your learning (see steps two and five below);
(c) $250 to read and respond to any final paper submitted after four weeks (see step seven below).
To begin: Read the Basic Information, and then follow instructions set forth in the steps listed below.
Step one: Read and remember the bold points, and try to put them into effect. Then, re-read, think about and consider the points with the full statements until you truly get it all, and are good at it, and feel the dawn of real understanding and success with it.
1 – When you feel yourself having a negative reaction to something someone says, try to think of the positive intention they may have had (think hard) and give them the benefit of the doubt. At first, you may need to force yourself to do this, because it is a shift from your normal way of thinking and reacting
2 – Let any negative feelings wash over you before you respond to something someone says or does. Don’t worry about feeling the emotion. That is normal. Recognize that most people want something for themselves. They are focusing on themselves and not on the other person. Think about what the other person wants for themselves and then respond in a practical way, also giving voice to the validity of their concerns and perspectives.
3 – Understand the other person’s perspective and communicate your own. Communicate your perspective clearly, calmly, politely, respectfully, and in different ways until the other person seems to understand it. Communication can include: verbal and nonverbal. Actions are communication too. So, for instance, making a generous gesture can communicate goodwill. It can also communicate the desire to please others. Closing one’s door can communicate the need for privacy. It can also communicate the desire to exclude others or cut off contact. Words and gestures can be misinterpreted. Be sensitive to any misinterpretations, and clarify them. Or pre-empt them by explaining your actions. Your manner is important too. Think about how you want to convey yourself. Do you want to be all business, friendly or approachable? Is your manner conveying that? Do others think so? Also think about the time and place of any conversations you pursue. Does the person have the time to discuss it at that moment? Is the setting appropriate? Are others around? Have you talked about it enough for the time being? Be sensitive the other person’s needs and perspectives even if you feel differently. It is often a good idea to ask the other person whether it is a good moment to speak about the matter.
At the same time, think about how to gain an understanding of the other person’s perspective. Do you feel comfortable asking them any questions? Do not make untested assumptions from their actions or their manner. Give the person the benefit of the doubt. If appropriate, ask questions. Focus on the positive aspects of what they want, so that you can turn any dialogue toward a discussion of their valid interests. Try to understand what their valid interests are. Listen to what they have to say if they articulate it, and communicate that you have understood their perspective. Check with them to make sure you have it right.
Before you decide how, when and where to communicate, focus on the context of your relationship, the nature of your relationship, the corporate culture if in a corporate context, and any other relevant factors unique to your situation.
4 – Be generous; focus on the positive; avoid focusing on accusations. Try to be generous, impervious to insult, strong. Generosity feels good, is usually well received by others, and is better for you and the relationship, whatever it is. You can be generous by giving something that “costs” you little, but provides something the other person values. This is the best possible kind of generosity. A heart-felt compliment can be generous and costs you nothing. But it may give the other person great pleasure, confidence and satisfaction. Allowing a valued employee to leave early for the day once in a while (when convenient for the company) gives that employee unexpected free time and the pleasure of your acknowledgement, while costing the company little or nothing.
Being impervious to insult does not mean that you will allow yourself to be insulted, but rather, than you will re-direct the focus toward the other person’s legitimate interests. So, if your daughter says: “You are so mean because you never let me go anywhere”, you do not need to defend yourself as being kind. Instead, you can focus on her underlying interest in being able to go places. Ask her how you can work together so that she feels satisfied with when, how and where she is able to go, and at the same time, have your concerns about her safety and responsibility satisfied.
5 – Recognize that you can not fix every situation; at the same time, you may be able to make some improvements. Some people will not work with others, will not consider the other person’s perspective and will not truly listen. Your goal is to not be one of them. But if you are in an interaction with one of them, you may be powerless to improve it. Do not assume, however, that any particular person is unyielding until you have truly tried all the foregoing practices. And even then, they may someday change.
Step two: Read over the five main points of the Basic Learning each morning (or as often as possible), think about what they mean. If necessary, re-read the fuller explanations set forth above under Basic Learning. The five main points are:
1 – When you feel yourself having a negative reaction to something someone says, try to think of the positive intention they may have had.
2 — Let any negative feelings wash over you before you respond to something someone says or does.
3– Understand the other person’s perspective and communicate your own.
4 – Be generous; focus on the positive; avoid focusing on accusations.
5 — Recognize that you can not fix every situation; at the same time, you may be able to make some improvements.
Step three: Contact instructor by email with a comment or a question whenever one arises, at least one per week. Try to formulate your question clearly and precisely. A concrete example is helpful. This is a crucial step to help you pinpoint your particular areas of challenge.
Steps for additional learning:
Keep a journal and note down any of the following:
(a) How you did or did not put the five points into action the day before.
(b) How you might put them into action more fully in the present day
(c) How you may have increased or changed your learning from the prior day(s).
(d) Whether you have noticed any particular strengths or challenges for you. For instance, do you feel that your meaning is often misunderstood when you try to convey your perspective to others? How can you address any such challenge? How can you build on any such strength?
First written assignment (Optional, for further learning): Submit one week after beginning the program: Summarize your learning and progress over the first week into a short paper of between one paragraph and one page. The paper should focus on how your learning has or has not deepened over the week. It should contain concrete examples from your life Also include aspirations for improvement in your learning over the following week. Submit it to the instructor for feedback.
Subsequent written assignments (Optional, for further learning): Submit two weeks after beginning the program. Summarize your learning and progress over the second week. The paper should be no more than one page in length. It should focus on (1) the learning that has taken place over the week, including (2) concrete examples from your life, (3) aspirations for improvement in your learning over the next week, (4) the question you emailed the instructor, and (5) your increased understanding of the answer to the question you asked and any ongoing challenges relating to that question. Submit the paper to the instructor for feedback.
Final Paper (Optional, for further learning): Every month or so, review all the papers you have written, including feedback received from the instructor. Write a final paper. Include in it everything you have truly learned and believe regarding conflict resolution, and your progress and continuing challenges. Include concrete examples. The paper should be no more than five pages. Submit to instructor.
Outside readings:: Look for outside readings on conflict resolution to advance your learning, if you desire. The instructor can suggest some reading.
Mentoring services to mediators:
I provide mentoring for mediators who want to improve their facilitative mediation skills. Mentoring can take place in various formats. I charge $50 per exchange, either by email or telephone. Lengthy exchanges may incur additional charges. Follow-up emails may be free of charge, if brief. Please contact me at Diane@DianeCohenMediation.com or 212-961-0177.
I am also available to observe mediations or to co-mediate. Payment for such mentoring services is determined on a case by case basis.
Coaching services to individuals: For Coaching services, see www.DianeCohenCoaching.com
Online dispute resolution;
Teaching, training, speaking.