Category Archives: Cool Stuff on the Web

Resources online and beyond for the aspiring mediator

Connecting to ADR resources onlineGreetings to regular readers, new visitors, and to the members of the Mediation Works Executive Mediation Training, with whom I have the pleasure of working this week. To stimulate your curiosity and to encourage further exploration, I’ve pulled together a list of essential resources for aspiring mediators:

Mediate.com is always at the top of my recommended resource list. This premiere ADR site offers

Recommended mediation reading. The following posts recommend books in print and online articles for the mediation library:

Top ADR blogs. I know of no better resource for staying current with the latest issues in dispute resolution and negotiation than my fellow bloggers, who make it their business to keep abreast of essential news and trends. I collected my own list of essential bloggers to follow. You’ll no doubt find some of your own at the World Directory of ADR Blogs at ADRblogs.com, a site which tracks and catalogs dispute resolution blogs from across the globe, and one of my ongoing web projects.

Online discussion.

Mind and cognition. How people reach judgments and make decisions is of great interest to mediators. For intellectually curious mediators and negotiators interested in staying on top of the results of the latest research, here is a list of the best social and brain science blogs.

Self-awareness tools. Remaining vigilant for cognitive errors can be a challenge but is essential for effective dispute resolution practice. The following tools can help keep minds open.

Negotiation sites, blogs, and podcasts. A list of value-creating resources.

Mediation marketing. I only recommend one site: Dr. Tammy Lenski’s “Making Mediation Your Day Job“. Accept no substitutes. Tammy is the real deal, a successful professional mediator and author with an international reputation and the respect of mediators around the world.

Readers, if you have other suggestions, by all means please feel free to add them in the comment section below.

Got a tune stuck in my head: on Youtube, a cognitive bias song

As a study aid for his students who were preparing for their AP Psychology exam, Arundel (Maryland) High School teacher Bradley Wray recorded and uploaded to Youtube a song about cognitive biases. (Is he the world’s coolest teacher or what?)

You can sing along here:

With a big tip of the hat to the Bias and Belief blog.

New on the mediation web: return of the king, launch of Werner Institute ADRhub

New on the ADR webAt its annual spring meeting, the American Bar Association Section on Dispute Resolution honored premier ADR and negotiation web site Mediate.com as the institutional recipient of the prestigious Lawyer as Problem Solver Award. In a moving acceptance speech, tinged with equal parts humor, reminiscence, and gratitude to supporters, Mediate.com co-founder Jim Melamed described the changes to the mediation field he has witnessed since the launch of this site and how technology has transformed the quality and degree of conversation among professionals, scholars, and consumers of ADR. (You can listen to Jim’s classy speech on Youtube.)

Joining (or in one case, rejoining) this vibrant conversation are two contributors I am pleased to welcome.

Internationally respected New Zealand commercial mediator, barrister, educator, and writer Geoff Sharp, one of the very best of the ADR bloggers, has returned to the blogosphere with a brand-new web site. Geoff’s Mediation Cubed Blog offers the mediator, educator and student the best thinking that scholarship and praxis can offer. This membership-only site is created exclusively for the mediation community to ensure that those who join are serious participants; registration is required. (This sounds daunting, but don’t let that deter you. I’m sure if you ask Geoff nicely he’ll allow you to sign up.)

ADR practitioner Jeff Thompson, a co-host of ADR podcast series Cafe Mediate, and author of the blog Enjoy Mediation, is the creative genius behind ADRhub, the Werner Institute’s ADR portal. Open to “academics, practitioners, scholars, professionals, students, ‘newbies’ and those interested in getting involved in the field“, ADRhub offers its members web events, news, online chat, job and event postings, and much, much more. Joining is free, in the best spirit of ADR. This promises to be a great place to hang out, and I look forward to meeting up with you there.

Photo credit: Jakub Krechowicz.

Top ADR site Mediate.com adds resources on gender

Premier dispute resolution web site Mediate.com has demonstrated its support for raising awareness of gender bias in ADR. Showing leadership and its commitment to social justice issues, Mediate.com has created a new section on gender, as well as a page on gender bias links.  This is just one more reason among many to visit Mediate.com, the top web site for news, information, and resources on ADR and negotiation.

Other features that make this site outstanding include:

To my good friends at Mediate.com, thank you as always for your support.

Right before your eyes: on cognitive fluency, graphical literacy, and illusion

Optical illusions make ideal teaching tools in negotiation and conflict resolution training. They serve as humbling reminders of the unreliability of our senses and the conclusions we draw from the data we perceive. One of my favorite illusions is “Shepard’s Turning the Tables“, which you can view at the web site of Professor Michael Bach of Universitäts-Augenklinik, Freiburg, Germany.

This illusion depicts two tables standing near each other. The tables appear to be of different sizes, one apparently longer and narrower than the other. When you click “Run”, one table top lifts and floats, coming to rest on top of the second table, allowing you to see that the surface areas of the tables are in fact identical and match perfectly. You can reset and replay the illusion again and again.

Amazingly, despite knowing the truth about the dimensions of the table tops, your eyes still see differing sizes and shapes. I invite you to see for yourself. (I must caution those of you whose time is limited: visiting Professor Bach’s site, a collection of 86 jaw-dropping illusions, for only a minute is simply not possible. You’ll find yourself irresistibly drawn from one illusion to the next.)

For those of you interested in influences on perception and cognition, I recommend one article and two videos, all thought-provoking (for those of you viewing at work, please note that a certain four-letter word appears in both videos):

Via The Boston Globe, “Easy = True: How ‘cognitive fluency’ shapes what we believe, how we invest, and who will become a supermodel“. Globe staff writer Drake Bennett describes cognitive fluency as “[o]ne of the hottest topics in psychology today”. He reports that cognitive fluency is “simply a measure of how easy it is to think about something, and it turns out that people prefer things that are easy to think about to those that are hard.” Studies suggest that factors such as rhyming words or font style and legibility of text influence the way we process information, enhancing or hampering our ability to perform tasks or make judgments.

The outstanding blog Sociological Images posted “Chart Wars: The Political Power of Data Visualization,” a presentation by political consultant Alex Lundry, which offers a salutary lesson in “graphical literacy” and warns against the ways in which depictions of visual data can mislead or distort. View it here:

From Colin Rule’s blog, “The template for every news story you’ve ever seen“. Watch in awe to see how, in Colin’s words, “a couple edits and on-the-street interviews can transform fuzzy thinking into something that seems insightful”:

What makes a great mediator? 2nd episode of Cafe Mediate podcast series has answers

In the second episode of ADR podcast series Cafe Mediate, conflict resolution and ADR marketing expert Tammy Lenski, London-based international business mediator Amanda Bucklow, New York City detective and conflict resolution professional Jeff Thompson, and I sit down together to consider the question, “What makes a great mediator?”.

This lively transatlantic conversation focused on the qualities that distinguish the effective practitioner. Listening to these seasoned colleagues left me inspired and thinking how fortunate I am to be able to count these talented conflict resolvers as my friends – thanks to Tammy, Amanda, and Jeff for such a thought-provoking discussion.

Each month ADR podcast series Cafe Mediate (motto: “where conversation, not caffeine, is the stimulant”), will feature conversation among ADR practitioners about topics relevant to the business, practice, and future of our field.

Future editions will explore issues such as certification and professionalization; debunking ADR myths; and training and education of mediators. I hope you’ll tune in. In the meantime, click here to learn more about “what makes a great mediator“.

Cafe Mediate: 1st episode in new ADR podcast series covers value billing

Cafe MediateCafe Mediate is the latest brainchild of mediation marketing and conflict resolution expert Tammy Lenski, who publishes two popular blogs, Conflict Zen and Making Mediation Your Day Job. Cafe Mediate (motto: “where conversation not caffeine is the stimulant”), a new monthly podcast series, will feature lively discussion among ADR professionals about topics relevant to practitioners, from the pragmatic to the provocative.

The inaugural session just aired. This transatlantic conversation brought together me, Tammy, and international business mediator Amanda Bucklow, who is based in England and blogs at the top-drawer Mediation Times, to talk about an issue of great interest to conflict resolution professionals: value billing.

Listen in to the podcast at “Value-based fees in the mediation and ADR world“.  If you use an RSS reader (for further instructions, see this video Tammy helpfully created), you can subscribe to alerts at CafeMediate’s main page.

Thanks to Tammy for inviting me to join in and to the extraordinary Amanda as well – I enjoyed the conversation and am already looking forward to the next one.

For mediators, negotiators: recommended social and brain sciences blogs

Blogs on mind and brain scienceIf you’re fascinated by the role that science plays in exploring and illuminating human behavior and decision making, the internet offers outstanding choices for the discerning reader and dedicated negotiator. I highly recommend the following sites:

Brains on Purpose. Lawyer and mediator Stephanie West Allen discusses the insights neuroscience offers into the resolution of conflict.

Cognitive Daily. This engaging and informative blog reports on the latest research on cognition, and also invites readers to participate in fun weekly studies.

The Frontal Cortex. Popular science writer Jonah Lehrer, author of Proust Was a Neuroscientist and How We Decide, discusses insights and the latest research from the field of neuroscience.

Neuroethics and Law Blog. This scholarly blog serves as an interdisciplinary forum for discussion of legal and ethical issues involving the mind and brain. I look forward to its weekly ethics and brain sciences news round-up (like this one).

Neurocritic. This blog brings a critical eye to its discussions of neuroscience, devoted to “[d]econstructing the most sensationalistic recent findings in Human Brain Imaging, Cognitive Neuroscience, and Psychopharmacology”.

The Situationist. This blog, which has attracted well-deserved accolades, is an outstanding source for news and discussion on human behavior and the effect of situational forces on legal, political, and social institutions. An essential addition to your blog library.

Predictably Irrational. Dan Ariely continues the conversation he began in his superb book which counters our assumptions about how we reach decisions.

Sociological Images. A site that examines the meaning of images and the messages they convey about gender, race, and identity. It provokes reflection on what these images say about society and culture, while shocking us out of our complacency.

Neuroanthropology. Another blog that offers stimulating discussion across disciplines – anthropology, social science, philosophy, and neuroscience – as it considers the “cultural brain”.

Neuromarketing. The tagline of this blog, written by Roger Dooley, says it all – “where brain science and marketing meet”.

Neurotopia. A quirky and entertaining look at neuroscience. I just can’t resist a blog authored by someone known only as “Evil Monkey”.

Do you have favorite blogs about neuroscience, social psychology, or behavioral economics? If so, please feel free to tell me about them in the comments.

Top ADR site Mediate.com reaches milestone: 300th issue of weekly newsletter

Mediate.com is number one!Year after year, Mediate.com remains at the top of its game, the very best resource bar none for news, information, and high-level thinking about conflict resolution and negotiation.

Features that make this site outstanding include:

Now Mediate.com announces it has reached a significant milestone: the publication of its 300th newsletter. Launched back in 1997, Mediate.com’s high-quality newsletter remains one of the best deals going: it’s completely free. If you don’t already, you can subscribe to Mediate.com’s newsletter, which arrives in your in-box packed each week with the hottest ideas and updates about ADR from around the globe.

Congratulations to Mediate.com on this impressive achievement. Thanks for being a dependably excellent resource, week after week, year after year.

Do you tell your mediation clients about neuroscience? A poll at Brains on Purpose

mind science and conflict resolutionMediator, lawyer, writer, and all-around Renaissance woman Stephanie West Allen needs your help as she prepares to write an article on neuroscience transparency. What is neuroscience transparency? It’s what conflict resolution professionals tell their clients about neuroscience. You can contribute by taking her survey at her site, Brains on Purpose, a blog which explores the role that brain science can play in the resolution of disputes.

Stephanie raises an interesting question that ADR practitioners no doubt will ask themselves more and more. Increasingly I myself look for ways to apply discoveries from neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and behavioral economics to my own work, whether assisting clients to resolve their disputes or teaching people how to negotiate or mediate.