We chose to name this initiative No Contest Communications to highlight our vision of the collaborative workplace, where feedback is gratefully welcomed and usefully shared. Communication and imagination shouldn’t be contests. Conflict is inevitable, though, of course. When people within an organization cannot resolve a conflict on their own, a good mediator can work magic.
The website Mediate.com is a wonderful resource of news, opinion, video, and professional-development opportunities for mediators and arbitrators. But anybody who wants to understand conflict resolution better will find lots of valuable material here, too. In this new video, Mediation and Mindfully Getting in the Middle, Brad Heckman, the Chief Executive Officer of the New York Peace Institute, points out that “We don’t know what we think we know about parties in conflict.” We must “dare to be dumb” and ask open-ended questions without making assumptions, and then the people before us can really appear.
This is a form of active humility that I try to teach my students and to practice myself. Often it’s hard. I like how Mediate.com blogger Tammy Lenski puts it: “It is a life of supreme joy and of profound despair, of laughter and of tears, of self-satisfaction and self-flagellation. It throws you curves when you’re too sure of yourself and hope when you begin to doubt.”