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Conflict Resolution Newsletter
by Alternative Resolutions, LLC 

November 2011 - Vol 1, Issue 5
In This Issue
Conflict Climate:How to Manage and Enhancing it
Theory Applicaition Tips
Conflict Resolution Events
Company News & Recent Publications
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Quick Links


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The big news at Alternative Resolutions, LLC is YouTube!!

Short excerpts on negotiation drawn from our lecture at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute in April 2011 may be viewed at this popular site. See one clip in the Quick Links.


As leaves turn from green to gold we hope you can also turn around the conflict climate in your organization to a supportive, positive one.




Conflict Climate-How to Manage and Enhance It


What do we mean by conflict climate? The conflict climate is the psychological atmosphere that impacts conflict. It includes such variables as trust, power, conflict strategy and personal behavior. A harmful climate for conflict consists of threats of power abuse, lack of trust, competition and defensiveness.   When the conflict climate is harmful a competitive or an avoidance approach to managing conflict is usually used. This article will examine some of the factors that contribute to harmful conflict climates and provide tips for improving your conflict climate when these factors are at work.

Power abuse


Power is defined as the ability to influence or control events or people. Power may be derived from position, structure or laws.   Legitimate power differences occur in relationships between a parent and child and an employer and employee. Some power differences are institutionalized such as in the courtroom, classroom, or military. The difficulty comes when the power is abused through threats and intimidation. Intimidation can take place through words, conduct or physical presence.   Powerful speech consists of verbal and non-verbal messages which have the effect of dominating and controlling others.

If you have power and are interested in sharing it you should find opportunities to solicit input from those you work with and demonstrate legitimate interest in joint problem solving. Find ways to share responsibility with your team.


Threat of Competition


Competition, as a conflict strategy is characterized by dominating, controlling and forcing one's decision on others. Abigail, Ruth. Managing Conflict Through Communication. Boston, MA: Pearson, 2011.   There is nothing per se wrong with competition and it is a healthy force unless it is perceived as threatening.   This can occur when the resolution of the conflict is a win for one and a loss for the other and is accompanied by negative attitudes, revenge, power plays and abuse behavior or words. A cooperative climate on the other hand is characterized by open and honest communication and a desire to resolve a problem so that each individual wins.


Threat of Distrust


Trust is the reliance on the character, ability, strength, or truth of someone or something.   We trust people who have our best interests in mind and wish no harm towards us. Distrust takes place when we lack confidence in or are wary of another person. Distrust contributes to an unhealthy climate when words and actions are inconsistent or a promise is broken.


Defensive behavior


There are two different kinds of communication behaviors-defensive and supportive. Defensiveness arises from strategies that exhibit evaluation, control, strategy, superiority and certainty. For example evaluation consists of praise and blame while nonjudgmental description is worded in a way that doesn't threaten self-esteem. Defensive behaviors are associated with feelings of inadequacy insecurity fear or uncertainty


Next month:  Managing Stress


Theory Application TIPS

In order to promote a productive conflict climate you should do the following:

→  Stand up for yourself in an assertive, positive manner

  Let your feelings, interests, needs be known

  Ask for responsibility and show you deserve it 

  When facing powerful speech use neutral, objective language that does not defer to the person abusing power

  Be conscious not to use powerless speech which shows neediness or lack of information 

  Focus on the issues involved and stress the need for mutual satisfaction of needs 

Conflict Resolution in the Community:  Upcoming Events

November 4, 2011-

Maryland Program for Mediator Excellence, Mediator continuing education


 November 18, 2011- 

"Strategies for Successful Negotiation" 
Montgomery Medical Society Medical Practices Strategies Conference
Company News and Recent Publications
"How ADR Can Help You and Your Company" was published in the October newsletter of Snyder Cohn, CPAs and Business Advisors.  Email us for a copy at [email protected].


We're thrilled to announce some website changes featuring some new products and services that we have developed over the past year and a half.  The training page features information about two  new programs that we started.  One is a practical hands on negotiation workshop that we have offered at several universities and institutes.  The second is a full day listening skills class which explores this complex aspect of the communication process.  Healthcare business mediation is the new feature on the mediation page.


We look forward to being your partners in productive, proactive conflict resolution endeavors. If you are a new reader or didn't request a copy previously please email us for a free copy of our organizational needs assessment.  Put your organization in a conflict healthy environment.



Ellen F. Kandell, Esq.
Alternative Resolutions, LLC