MTI at the Southern California Mediation Association Conference

Posted on January 27th, 2016 by Craig Runde

MTI at the Southern California Mediation Association Conference

By Craig Runde, Director of the Center for Conflict Dynamics

CCD & MTI had the opportunity to present and exhibit at the 2015 Southern California Mediation Association (SCMA) Conference at Pepperdine Law School on November 6th.   CCD & MTI director Craig Runde teamed up with former MTI training director Dr. Debra Dupree to present to attendees on How Conflict Competence and Emotional Intelligence Affects Workplace Mediators.

Afterwards participants were able to stop by the MTI exhibit to discuss training options.

  • Seasoned mediators were interested in MTI’s train-the-trainer program which would allow them to expand their portfolio of services to include training clients how to deal with conflicts more effectively by themselves.

  • Newer mediators also showed interest in MTI’s mediation certification program that would enable them to expand their practice to include workplace mediation.

Thank you again to the SCMA for the opportunity to present!

We are always looking for the opportunity to present at HR Professional, Coaching, and other relevant organizations on conflict management and mediation.  If you are part of a professional organization that may be interested, please send an email to [email protected].

What’s the difference between Empathy and Sympathy, and why has Sympathy got such a bad name?

Posted on January 27th, 2016 by Sarah Sherry

What’s the difference between Empathy and Sympathy, and why has Sympathy got such a bad name?

By John Ford, founder of the HR Mediation Academy, originally posted at 


Have you ever wondered about the difference between empathy and sympathy?

And if you have, why sympathy has got such a bad name?

I addressed these very questions in the recent pilot of my online course that focused on Challenging Workplace Relationships, but was prompted to write this after watching a short online video narrated by Dr. Brené Brown.

In the video Dr Brown says that empathy fuels connection and sympathy drives disconnection. To empathize, she says, we must "internalize the feelings of another."

In the examples she gives she suggests that we sympathize when we avoid acknowledging others difficult feelings and also when we minimize the experience of another, such as when we ‘silver-line’ with expressions like, “at least you have a job,” after hearing that the person was demoted.

I agree that these last two practices (avoidance and minimizing) are not empathetic, but I am not sure that they are what sympathy is about. Or indeed the real reasons for sympathy’s bad name.

As is often the case, words have numerous meanings. Sympathy’s Latin roots point to "similar feelings" (sympathia and pathos).

However, the primary sense in most modern dictionaries suggest that sympathy means “pity or sorrow for someone’s misfortune.”

Sympathy as pity is dis-empowering and fuels disconnection. Comments like “I don’t want your sympathy” confirm this.

We want to be allowed to feel our feelings, rather than be rescued by the sympathizer who can never actually feel for us!

I agree that this sense is unfortunate and I suspect a reason for sympathy’s bad name.

But sympathy can also refer to the original Latin meaning and our capacity to recognize a common feeling. We sense that the other person may be feeling something similar to what we have previously experienced and sympathize.
As the listener, if we express our sympathy we may say “I was also ‘gutted’ when my team lost!”

The apparent danger is that unless we are careful we shift the focus away from the other. Now it’s about me and my team!

That’s another reason for its bad name.

So what then is empathy, and how is it different?

Empathy is our capacity to sense and understand what another is feeling from their – nor our – point of view.

This to me is vital. The focus is on them and how they make sense of their feelings.

So while I listen to my English friend bemoan their loss in the rugby world cup, I can sympathize as suggested above as I know what it feels like to lose.

But I can also empathize.

And when I do the shift is apparent. “I imagine you were gutted when your team lost! Especially as hosts. Must really hurt!”

As is suggested by Paul Bellet and Michael Maloney, our perspective becomes superfluous, certainly secondary to that of the speaker:

“Empathy is the capacity to understand what another person is experiencing from within the other person's frame of reference, i.e., the capacity to place oneself in another's shoes.”

At best my frame of reference and knowledge of rugby can help me to understand what my friend is feeling (sympathy), but empathy lies in my ultimate ability to demonstrate to my friend that I understand him and his woes.

Empathy builds connection, and is based on authentic attention to the other.

Sympathy can move us toward, but is not the same as empathy.

In the same way that avoidance and minimization are neither sympathetic nor empathetic.

Much ado about nothing?

Not so sure. Words matter.

Sympathy has its place, but there are dangers.

Which is why for life’s challenges,

I prefer empathy!




About the Author:

John Ford is the author of Peace at Work and founder of the HR Mediation Academy. He mediates, trains, and consults to organizations that have accepted the inevitability of conflict and are seeking to approach it with greater clarity and confidence. He was the managing editor of from 2000 to 2011, and is a past president of the Association for Dispute Resolution of Northern California. More about John Ford:

Book Review: Hold on to Yourself Through Tough Conversations

Posted on January 27th, 2016 by Craig Runde

Book Review: Hold on to Yourself Through Tough Conversations

By Craig Runde, Director of the Center for Conflict Dynamics

The Center was fortunate to get an early look at Julia Menard and Judy Zehr’s new book, Hold on to Yourself Through Tough Conversations, which comes out in early February from Balboa Press.  It is a wonderful new offering that helps explain and provide pathways for addressing the emotional challenges we all face in conflict settings. The book draws from a multitude of rich and diverse sources including Jon Kabat Zinn (mindfulness), Laurel Mellin (emotional brain training), Daniel Goleman (emotional intelligence), Daniel Siegel (interpersonal biology), John Gottman (couples communications), Marshall Rosenberg (nonviolent communications), and others.  It provides an in-depth but very readable look at the underpinnings of our neurobiological responses to conflict.  Perhaps more importantly, their book shares practical approaches for being able to recognize and manage these emotional responses to help you “hold on to yourself” and deal with the conflicts in more balanced and effective manner. We strongly recommend it to you.

If you have additional questions about the book you can address them to Julia Menard at

Promoting Your Practice

Posted on January 22nd, 2016 by Craig Runde

Promoting Your Practice

By Craig Runde, Director of the Center for Conflict Dynamics and Mediation Training Institute

We covered a lot of great topics at the 2015 Practitioner Conference. One of our most popular sessions was the table talk entitled “Marketing your Conflict Practice” hosted by Matt Dreger, the Director of Digital Marketing for the Division of Executive and Continuing Education, and Dorie Michalik, the Assistant Director of Product Management for the Center for Conflict Dynamics and Mediation Training Institute. At these sessions, seasoned practitioners shared their thoughts with the group, and the CCD staff gained valuable insight into the support our certified partners need. A large list of ideas emerged from these session, take a look at some of the most mentioned feedback and suggestions.

Outline Industry-Specific Solutions

Many of our practitioners work within specific industries such as health care, corrections, and education, and they suggested the need for more industry-specific examples and materials to better communicate with these segments regarding the CDP assessment and MTI trainings. Ideas included industry-specific case studies, blogs, presentation templates and webinars. The CCD team has begun to develop a number of these industry-specific case studies, and we will continue to add to this throughout the year. Here is a recent case study in partnership with the University of Colorado. (Link to the case study)

Improve Your Visibility

Most practitioners who identified themselves as having a successful practice mentioned their willingness to network. Word of mouth was still a strong avenue for driving new opportunities. Joining local civic and trade organizations provides practitioners with the ability to network and build relationships.

One of the areas discussed the most was how to leverage your website, social media, and blog posts as a means of communicating and generating opportunities for your business. Research indicates that a majority of people conduct research online about an organization long before they contact them. Most agreed that having a strong digital presence is an important foundation for your business or practice. Here were some ideas discussed in the session on how to improve your digital presence on your own and in partnership with the CCD.

  • Utilize MTI’s “Cost of Conflict” calculator and CDP’s “Hot Buttons” test as introductory tools with prospective clients.

  • By Blogging, you are offering your own perspective on conflict and current topics. This provides an opportunity to share your knowledge, as well as improve the results of your website in search results.

  • Keeping your website current with updated content and improving the engagement with visitors can be accomplished today through many turn-key website platforms including WordPress, Wix, and Weebly.

Additional CCD Team Support

There was a lot of discussion around opportunities we have as partners with our practitioners to enhance their experience with the CCD.

  • Offer brochures and presentation templates that can be branded with a certified practitioner’s information or an organization's logo for use with client proposals.

  • Provide additional consultation by the CCD team with recently certified practitioners to assist with the utilization of the CDP assessment and MTI training materials in their role.

  • Refresh the MTI and CDP training and coaching videos utilized by practitioners in their programs.


These were all excellent ideas and the CCD team will be expanding upon these throughout the year. A survey will also be distributed electronically in the near future to all certified practitioners to further assist us in identifying the type of services our practitioners need.

Helping Managers Learn How to Wait

Posted on December 15th, 2015 by Craig Runde

Helping Managers Learn How to Wait

By Craig Runde, Director of the Center for Conflict Dynamics and Mediation Training Institute

In MTI’s Manager-as-Mediator course, managers have three tasks to accomplish in the three-way meeting with their employees.  Those tasks are:

  1. Keep disputants engaged in the Essential Process (by preventing violations of the Cardinal Rules)
  2. Support Conciliatory Gestures, and
  3. Wait! (remember the abbreviation W.A.I.T. = “Why Am I Talking”)

While each of these steps is conceptually straightforward, they can each be challenging to perform. In many cases, the most difficult one for managers is the last one.  It is simple – as long as the parties are engaged in face to face talking about the problem and there are no conciliatory gestures that are unacknowledged, the manager stays quiet.  Although it is simple to understand, it is particularly difficult for managers to do.

Managers are usually very effective problem solvers.  They may be better at it than the employees who are in conflict.  The managers may see solutions to the problem that seem obvious.  They will want to wrap things up quickly so everyone can go back to work.  As time goes it becomes more difficult for them to stay uninvolved.

Yet, this is exactly what is needed.  If they have chosen to use managerial mediation as a method for solving the business problem caused by the employees’ conflict, the managers need to let the employees solve the problem.  The employees, in turn, will have to make the trek up Conflict Mountain in order to reach the Breakthrough that will lead to a resolution of the problem.  The trek up the mountain takes time and can seem frustrating to both the employees and especially the manager.

At the same time, allowing the employees to work through the process provides two helpful outcomes in addition to resolving the business problem.  On the one hand it allows the employees to work through their frustrations and lessen the negative emotions they have been harboring.  It also allows them to get used to using a process that can help them work through future conflicts by themselves, so they don’t have to involve the manager in every future issue.  In the long run both of these outcomes will save the manager time and grief.

So how to help the manager remember the value of being patient and refraining from getting involved when they don’t need to be?


The first step is to remind the manager that they don’t have to choose managerial mediation in the first place.  If they feel like making the decision and telling the employees what to do to resolve the business problem, they can do so.  If they think the issue requires them to discipline someone, they can do that as well.  If, however, they believe the situation is the place to use managerial mediation, and they decide to use it, then they need to wait in order for the process to work.  In addition, it is helpful to remind the manager about the positive collateral outcomes (reducing tensions and improving employees’ ability to manage future conflicts) that result from using managerial mediation properly.  And using it properly means being willing to WAIT!

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New and Exciting Changes for 2016!

Posted on December 15th, 2015 by Craig Runde

New and Exciting Changes for 2016!

Announcing our new Center for Conflict Dynamics(CDP) and Mediation Training Institute(MTI) newsletter in January 2016.

This revised newsletter will become an all-encompassing resource for all of our Certified Practitioners.  Articles will include information pertinent to both the CDP and MTI consultant.  Look for our updated format.

Shipping and Fulfillment

To better serve our practitioners, we have moved our shipping to a fulfillment center, effective January 1, 2016.  Please note: new CDP and MTI Shipments will be made from Madison, WI 53704.  When your are placing orders, please plan accordingly for the change in shipping origin as transit times may be different.

Pricing Changes effective January 1, 2016:

  • We have maintained the cost of the CDP Individual Assessment over the last few years; however, due to the rising cost of printing and maintaining the online practitioner portal, we must slightly increase the price of the CDP-Individual.  This is a minimal change from the current price of $33, and we will still be offering quantity discounts as follows:
1-49 Assessments 50-99 Assessments 100 or More Assessments
$35.00 $33.00 $30.00
  • We are always happy to assist our practitioners with any technical issues arising in a CDP program. Please note: it takes time away from other customers to set-up and maintain practitioners programs at their request.  We will begin charging an administrative fee of $100 when practitioners request that we set-up, maintain and score their program.

New CDP Refresher Course

For CDP Certified Consultants who have been previously certified—both active and inactive members of the CDP network are eligible to refresh.  Anyone who has been previously certified and has not used the CDP since their certification is required to refresh.  Any consultant who has not used the CDP in the last 12 months is encouraged to participate in a refresher course.  As part of your refresher course, you will receive the latest certification materials.  This course will reinforce your previous CDP knowledge and skills and help you to maintain consistent performance in feedback sessions.  The refresher course will include a teleconference with the Center’s director, Craig Runde, and a 15% discount on your first order placed within 30 days of completing the refresher.  The cost of the refresher course is $295.

Trends in Conflict Research and the CDP Model

Posted on December 15th, 2015 by Craig Runde

Trends in Conflict Research and the CDP Model

By Craig Runde, Director of the Center for Conflict Dynamics

In the late 1990’s, when the Conflict Dynamics Profile was originally developed, organizational research in conflict had begun to focus on the concept of conflict types. Three main types were described: task conflict which involved differences over substantive issues, process conflict which dealt with how to organize various functions, and relationship conflict which focused on interpersonal problems. At first it was thought that task conflict could lead to enhanced productivity, improved creativity, and better decision making. Relationship conflict and to a lesser extent process conflict were seen as producing negative outcomes – both in terms of productivity and morale.

In 2003, an important meta-analysis challenged the idea that task conflict was associated with positive outcomes. (1) The study found that task conflict was negatively correlated with productivity and led to efforts to determine under what conditions task conflict could have positive results. A number of such conditions were identified including high trust, moderate level of conflict, and more recently the importance of how people behave during conflict. (2)

The research about conflict type continued to run into conflicting (no pun intended) results though. In 2015 a new article by Weingart and colleagues calls for a new approach to organizational conflict research. (3) They recommend moving away from conflict type as the main focus of study. Instead, they suggest focus on the concept of “conflict expression,” including how direct people are in expressing differences and the intensity with which they state their opposition to one another. This would cause research to move more in the direction of the CDP’s behavioral model, which is based on the premise that how people respond when faced with conflict in the workplace affects its outcome. When people are able to use constructive behaviors they are able to resolve problems caused by the conflict and achieve the benefits that had originally been postulated for task conflict. On the other hand, if people respond with destructive “fight or flight” behaviors, conflict will tend to be escalated and prolonged.

  1. De Dreu, C. and Weingart, L., “Task Versus Relationship Conflict, Team Performance, and Team Member Satisfaction: A Meta-Analysis.” Journal of Applied Psychology. 2003, 88(4), 741-49.
  2. DeChurch, L., Mesmer-Magnus, J. and Doty, D. “Moving beyond relationship and task conflict: the role of conflict management.” Journal of Applied Psychology. 2013, 98(4), 559, 578.
  3. Weingart, L., Behfar, K., Bendersky, C., Todorova, G., and Jehn, K., “The Directness and Oppositional Intensity of Conflict Expression”, Academy of Manage Review. 2015, 40(2), 235-262.

Use of the CDP with Students at Colorado State University

Posted on December 15th, 2015 by Craig Runde

Use of the CDP with Students at Colorado State University

By Brooke Wichmann, Assistant Director of Conflict Resolution at Colorado State University

The Office of Conflict Resolution and Student Conduct Services at Colorado State University is dedicated to supporting students in overcoming mistakes and providing services to help them manage conflicts at the lowest level possible. The Conflict Dynamic Profile(CDP) has been a recent addition to our toolkit, but has already dramatically improved and streamlined an important new initiative.

The Conflict Resolution staff has been experiencing great success with Conflict Coaching – a series of one-on-one conversations examining the student’s internal and external responses to interpersonal conflict. The goal is for the student to leave with a deeper understanding of their own behavior, armed with tools to make future choices that fall in line with their goals and values.

The Student Conduct staff have a long tradition of utilizing forward-thinking sanctions with students who have violated the code of conduct. The ultimate goal is to promote personal accountability and the emotional growth of students who have made mistakes. Recognizing that many of these students might lack the knowledge and skills to manage conflicts effectively, Conflict Coaching has been added to the list of possible educational outcomes at CSU.  As far as we know, this is the first time Conflict Coaching has been utilized this way in higher education.

Creating an effective process for mandatory Conflict Coaching was somewhat challenging. In the past, all coaching services were self-referred and entirely voluntary, so students were naturally interested in participating, and typically had clear goals for what they hoped to achieve.

We knew that for sanctioned Conflict Coaching to be effective, students would need to have buy-in and genuine engagement with the process – a somewhat difficult feat when the process is required. Initially, we found that students often were either resistant to being open with the coach, or simply weren’t sure what they wanted to work on. This put the coach in the awkward position of trying to figure out, with limited background information, the students’ constructive and destructive tendencies in conflict. This process took a lot of time and energy, and wasn’t always effective.

The missing piece came from the incorporation of the CDP. Having become certified to administer the assessment, I decided to try it out with one of my sanctioned conflict coaching students. The introduction of the profile had immediate and positive results. The fact that it is a self-assessment helps students feel more empowered in the process. They aren’t being judged or defined by another person they don’t know, but rather seeing objective results based on their own responses. While I explain to students that they might not agree with their results, I find the majority of students do. Plus, it adds an element of fun to the coaching process. Most of us like learning about ourselves – as evidenced by the plethora of online personality tests and quizzes. We’ve found that even students who are initially very resistant to the process are often quite eager to see their CDP results.

Once a student is assigned to participate in conflict coaching, they are emailed a link to the CDP-I. After this is complete, they can come in for their first one-on-one coaching session, in which they get to see their results.  This yields a clear sense of problem areas and conflict patterns. The student uses their CDP results to self-identify goals for improvement, and the remaining sessions are spent learning and practicing helpful new strategies and skills.

Since last February, when it was introduced, 26 students have been assigned to participate in Conflict Coaching with the Conflict Dynamics Profile. The verbal feedback we’ve received has been very positive, and we’ve recently started to provide anonymous feedback forms for the students to share their experience with the process.  So far, 100% of students who have completed the survey “strongly agree” with the statements: “I feel more confident in my ability to manage conflict effectively,” and “I learned new, effective information, skills, and/or strategies.”

In a short time, requiring students to receive skill-building conflict coaching has progressed from an experiment to an integral service of our office.  Currently, two additional Conflict Resolution staff members are in the process of becoming certified to administer the CDP-I so that we can keep up with the demand for this service.

Colorado State University is proud to be setting the bar higher for higher education student services nationwide, and the Conflict Dynamic Profile has been incredibly important in our success.

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Mediation and Stress

Posted on October 21st, 2015 by Craig Runde

Mediation and Stress

By Craig Runde, Director of the Center for Conflict Dynamics


New articles point out the nexus between workplace conflict, stress, and its successful identification and resolution by mediation.

In "Mediation to Identify Causes of Stress Early" Susan Ingham and colleagues discuss the use of mediation to resolve conflicts and minimize work-related stress in the United Kingdom. (1)

Unresolved conflict can cause conflict because of the negative emotions that arise and fester. These can lead to numerous physical and psychological health problems. (2) Donna McKenzie in “The Role of Mediation in Resolving Workplace Relationship Conflict, notes that stress can also caused damaged relationships, lost productivity, diminished job satisfaction, and even workers’ compensation claims. (3) Finding ways to help manage conflict and the stress it causes becomes an important health and productivity issue for organizations.

Ingham suggests that mediation can be effective in addressing workplace stressors because of its psychological basis. Its problem solving orientation couples with its emphasis on direct communications in a safe context to resolve the problems that have been causing stress in the first place.
The Mediation Training Institute(MTI) model developed by Dr. Dan Dana also relies on psychological processes of fatigue, desire for peace, catharsis, and the inhibitory reflex to eventually lead to breakthroughs in mediation which bring about resolution of conflict.

One of the key, long-term benefits of this approach is reducing the underlying stress associated with conflict. This, in turn, lessens the recurrence of conflicts.

1. Ingram, S., St. Romain, J., and Brearly, D., "Mediation to Identify Causes of Stress Early," Occupational Health, 2015, 67(4), 20-22.
2. Spector, P. and Bruk-Lee, V., "Conflict, health, and well-being." In C. DeDreu and M. Gelfand,(eds.), The Psychology of Conflict and Conflict Management in Organizations, Abington, UK: Taylor & Francis ,2007.
3. McKenzie, D., "The Role of Mediation in Resolving Workplace Relationship Conflict," International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 2015, 39, 52-59.

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New Conflict Related Research - IACM 2015

Posted on October 14th, 2015 by Craig Runde

New Conflict Related Research - IACM 2015

by Craig Runde, Director of the Center for Conflict Dynamics


A representative from the Center for Conflict Dynamics (CCD) attended the 2015 International Association for Conflict Management Conference (IACM) which took place in Clearwater, FL. The conference brought together renowned conflict researchers from around the world who shared new conflict research insights.

At this year’s conference, a number of interesting presentations were shared, such as Professors Katalien Bollen and Martin Euwema presented on the challenges workplace conflict mediators have identifying anger in subordinates and how this negatively affects the subordinates’ attitudes towards the mediation. This shows that identifying and managing emotions in conflict settings is important to resolving them satisfactorily. One step would be for mediators to become more aware of their own emotional reactions in sessions by using the Hot Buttons component of the CDP.

Professor Shirley Kopelman and His Eminence Trungram Gyaltrul Rinpoche discussed the use and effects of mindfulness meditation on negotiations. The ability to use mindfulness to regulate emotions enables negotiators to use emotions more strategically. Once again the importance of being able to manage emotions became a focal point. In addition to understanding what triggers emotions (using the hot buttons test), it is important to be able to regulate the emotions once they arise. In the CDP context using constructive behaviors like Delay Responding (taking a time out to let things cool down) and Expressing Emotions (being able to tell the other person how you are thinking and feeling about a situation) can be helpful strategies to deal with emotions effectively before they deal with you.

Priti Shah from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota shared research regarding the effect of task and relationship conflict in teams on various elements of trust including competence, benevolence, and integrity. Conflict can erode trust in teams, especially when it involves people blaming one another for problems (relationship conflict). One way to minimize these problems is to enhance a team’s emotional intelligence. You can read more about this process in Marcia Hughes and James Terrell, The Emotionally Intelligent Team (Jossey-Bass, 2007).

For more information on the IACM and their upcoming 2016 conference go to

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