Category Archives: Cool Stuff on the Web

A look in the mirror: seeking self-awareness

Conflict resolution work can be demanding, asking much of those who practice it. Among other qualities, practitioners must ideally bring to the table an openness and curiosity to learn more about how others see and experience the world; respect and compassion; the humility to acknowledge an error and express regret for an unintended outcome; and the willingness to remain alert for their own cognitive errors and biases.

These attributes flow from the capacity for self-awareness — a quality that requires eternal vigilance and constant practice. (I cheerfully admit that I’m a slow but persistent learner myself, hopeful nonetheless that there’s truth in the adage “practice makes perfect”.)

Fortunately the internet, with its almost infinite bounty of resources, offers plenty of opportunity for self-reflective exercise, with online tools, ongoing research studies, and tests to help new and experienced dispute resolvers gain greater self-awareness. Here’s a partial list:

If you’re interested in finding additional ways to both contribute to scientific advancement and continue the voyage of self-discovery, a whole list of current psychological research projects can be found on the web site for the Hanover College Psychology Department.


Michael McIlwrath, Senior Counsel, Litigation for GE Infrastructure – Oil & Gas, and the host of the outstanding ADR podcast series, International Dispute Negotiation, kindly suggested the addition of two other resources for readers:

Thanks so much, Mike!

The right stuff: morality resources, articles, studies, and a course, all online

Find your moral compass through resources, studies, a course all onlineGreat minds – and wits – have considered the difficulties of moral choice. Influential activist and thinker Martin Luther King, Jr., wrote, “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.” (Bon vivant Mae West, who took a more pragmatic view, purportedly said, “Between two evils, I always pick the one I never tried before.”)

Moment by moment, life presents us with difficult choices and questions to confront. What are we to do in the face of moral dilemma? As moral actors, how do we decide? What guides us? What are the sources of moral values? Religion? Law? Or are they coded into our DNA? How do we apply moral values? Are moral principles universally held, transcending culture? Or are they shifting social constructs, dependent upon the vagaries of time and place?

Inside all of us is the philosopher who delights in wrestling with questions concerning moral decision making – and the devil’s advocate who likes to pose them. The internet holds much to stimulate us, particularly these outstanding resources on morality, moral psychology, and moral decision making:

Recommended reading: 24 alternative dispute resolution blogs to follow

ADRblogs.comRecently Mediator Blah…Blah…, one of my favorite ADR blogs, sadly ceased publication. I will miss friend and fellow blogger Geoff Sharp‘s intelligent, emotionally honest writing and wit.

Fortunately there are other blogs, written by talented, insightful practitioners, that can fill the void that Geoff’s absence has created. I have compiled a list of currently active blogs that I recommend to you, with a few words on why.

Creating a list like this was challenging, with so many worthy ADR blogs to choose from. I fear that some I may have inadvertently overlooked, and as I’ve written this post, I’ve had to change the number in the title several times.

I therefore invite you, gentle reader, to add your own recommendations in the comment section below.

Enduring Classics

These blogs have been around for quite a long time, in one form or another. The quality of their writing and the usefulness of the information they provide explain their longevity. They are:

  • Settle It Now Negotiation Law Blog, by Victoria Pynchon, contains consistently superb discussion and analysis of issues in negotiation, as well as unflinching self-honesty and debate on controversial issues.
  • Idealawg, by Stephanie West Allen, artfully weaves in discussion of law, conflict resolution, scientific discoveries, and creativity; will get your neurons firing.
  • Campus ADR Tech Blog, by technological wizard Bill Warters, consistently links to useful tools and resources for ADR practitioners, trainers, and educators. A long-time favorite of mine.
  • Making Mediation Your Day Job, by Tammy Lenski. Other ADR marketing “experts” have come and gone. To appreciate why Tammy’s site endures while others have long since faded away, visit the latest incarnation of her site helping mediators build successful practices.
  • PGP Mediation Blog, by Phyllis Pollack. Phyllis leaves the door to the mediation room open just a crack so you can listen in and learn from her experiences at the table.
  • CKA Mediation and Arbitration Blog, by Chris Annunziata. We all need a gutsy contrarian, someone willing to dispatch sacred cows or tell us when the emperor wears no clothes.  Chris pulls no punches, whether tackling lawsuit abuse or discussing practice issues that the mediator in Georgia faces – such as this recent post on the “deregistration” of a mediator by the Georgia Office of Dispute Resolution.

Global Perspectives

These are blogs that present views beyond U.S. borders. They enrich our understanding of conflict resolution and negotiation.

  • The Mediation Times, by Amanda Bucklow, U.K., addresses an international audience and seeks to expand the role of mediation to resolve disputes. (FYI, Amanda recently published the results of her own research on mediator skills and attributes.)
  • ICT for Peace, by Sanjana Hattotuwo, Sri Lanka. This outstanding blog explores the use of technology for conflict transformation and the critical role of citizen media in social justice.
  • MediAsian, by Ian Macduff, Singapore. Published by a relocated New Zealander – born in Malaysia, now living and working in Singapore – this blog discusses mediation and dispute resolution in Asia, including the role that culture plays.
  • Reporting on Conflict: Peacemakers Trust Media Watch Blog, edited by Catherine Morris, Canada. This blog rounds up news on dispute resolution, conflict transformation and peace building, gathered from sources around the world. Essential for anyone interested in following international news on conflict resolution.
  • Dialogic Mediation, by Arnold Zeman, Canada. This blog publishes less frequently than others, but quality not quantity matters. Consider for example, this illuminating article on transformative mediation, which got me to confront my own assumptions about this model of practice.

Newer Voices, Robust Discussion

These newer contributors have elevated the quality of discourse in the ADR blogosphere or have reinvigorated it with fresh ideas or new direction.


These blogs focus on specialty areas in ADR.

  • Loree Reinsurance and Arbitration Law Forum, by Philip J.  Loree, Jr., contributor and editor.  This niche blog is distinguished by scholarly, sophisticated discussion and analysis of issues in reinsurance and commercial litigation and arbitration.
  • Disputing, by Victoria VanBuren, contributor and editor. Recently celebrating four years of blogging, Disputing focuses its writing on news and discussion on the resolution of commercial disputes through arbitration and mediation.
  • IP ADR Blog, by Eric van Ginkel, Les Weinstein, Victoria Pynchon, and Michael Young. Expect from this blog high-level analysis of issues involving the resolution of intellectual property disputes, including business strategy and tactics.
  • The Ombuds Blog, by Tom Kosakowski. An essential source for news and job postings for the ombudsman.
  • ADR Prof Blog, by Andrea Schneider, Michael Moffitt, Sarah Cole, Art Hinshaw, Jill Gross, and Cynthia Alkon. To the best of my knowledge, this is the only blog with a special focus on ADR teaching and scholarship. Don’t assume that its academic pedigree signifies starchiness and pretense; on the contrary. Expect to find relevant news, useful links, and sly humor, delivered in an admirably concise package.

Easy Listening

This is the one podcast among this group of blogs. It is always worth listening to.

  • International Dispute Negotiation, hosted by Michael McIlwrath and the International Institute for Conflict Resolution and Prevention (CPR). This high-quality podcast series featuring conversations with leading thinkers and practitioners with a global perspective on ADR. (I just wish that CPR would stop messing with the RSS settings for this podcast – I just discovered that the feed changed yet again, which meant that I missed learning of recent podcasts via my newsreader. Hint, hint.)

Unsung Heroes

These are blogs published by folks who consistently produce great writing but haven’t garnered the attention IMHO I think they merit. Here’s some link love for these deserving blogs:

Of course there are still roughly 200 other ADR blogs over at my other site,, which tracks and catalogs blogs from 30 countries across the globe.

For other outstanding blogs, see’s Featured Blogs page, or pay a visit to the world-wide gallery of ADR blogs at the web site of the International Mediation Institute.

Interview with new ABA Section on Dispute Resolution chair Homer LaRue at Enjoy Mediation Blog

Homer LaRueNYPD officer detective and ADR professional Jeff Thompson has posted an interview with new ABA Section on Dispute Resolution chair Homer LaRue at his blog, Enjoy Mediation.

LaRue discusses the Section’s priorities for the coming years (but alas, does not reveal which blogs he reads regularly).

[Update, 8/28/2009: Jeff just alerted me that he has been promoted to NYPD detective. Jeff, congratulations on the promotion! I know it’s well deserved.] proves there is indeed such thing as a free lunch

free lunch at Mediate.comWhat’s not to love about free?, the premier web site for news, resources, ideas, tips, and information on ADR and negotiation, reminds me of just how good free can be.

Available at are all kinds of goodies including:

With tasty offerings like these, no wonder continues to be the top ADR site.

Mediation channel surfing: nosh on these idea snacks in a round-up of links

idea snacks from Mediation ChannelEvery few weeks for the benefit of my non-Twittering readers, I round up the articles, posts, and news stories I’ve microblogged about on Twitter. It’s time once again to dish out a collection of finger-licking good links that I think you’ll enjoy.

Top 5 Tuesdays at National Arbitration Forum Blog this week highlights 5 new ADR bloggers

Top 5 TuesdaysMy long-time pals over at the National Arbitration Forum Blog have launched “Top 5 Tuesdays“, a terrific new feature to be hosted each week by a different member of the ADR community. They were nice enough to invite me to host this week’s edition, and I used it to showcase five blogs I’ve recently added to, where I track blogs related to ADR, negotiation, and conflict resolution. These five blogs include Loree Reinsurance and Arbitration Forum and Disputing: Conversations about Dispute Resolution. I had a tough act to follow – the first contributor to Top 5 Tuesdays was ADR superstar Kenneth Cloke, who discussed “5 Reasons Why We Need to Mediate Environmental Disputes“.

If you’d like to participate and contribute to Top 5 Tuesdays, you can learn more about why Top 5 Tuesdays are a win-win for everyone – NAF Blog, its readers, and you. Enjoy.

Photo credit: Ruben Joye.

Mediation channel surfing: in a round-up of links, some tasty ideas to snack on

chipsFrom time to time for my non-Twittering readers, I round up the articles and news stories I’ve microblogged about on Twitter. Here’s the latest batch of tasty thought-snacks:

In praise of joint sessions: mediator Geoff Sharp pays tribute to face-to-face negotiations

in praise of the joint sessionRing the bells that still can ring
Forget your perfect offering
There is a crack in everything
That’s how the light gets in

– Leonard Cohen

The past couple of years have brought energetic debate within the mediation profession, pushing mediators to confront questions about practice, professional identity, and the nature of mediation itself. One of the most controversial questions concerns the use of the caucus, the private meetings behind closed doors with each side to a dispute separately. Some consumers of mediation services, particularly attorneys, insist upon it, as I learned while attending one of the break-out sessions at the annual spring meeting of the ABA Section on Dispute Resolution.  Some mediators rely on it heavily. Meanwhile, others, like Gary Friedman and Jack Himmelstein, authors of Challenging Conflict: Mediation Through Understanding, reject the use of the caucus entirely, arguing that the caucus distorts the flow of information between parties and negates the principles of dialogue and rapprochement that lie at the very heart of mediation practice.

Wading into the debate is experienced international commercial mediator Geoff Sharp with a working paper entitled, “In Praise of Joint Sessions” (PDF). Geoff pulls no punches in his criticism of devotees of the caucus, observing that “shuttle mediation has arisen, in part, out of a laziness by mediators.”  On the basis of his substantial experience mediating difficult commercial disputes, Geoff explains why he believes the joint session is so essential to their resolution:

The heart stopping success or failure of a large commercial mediation often occurs in joint in those pivotal moments where the mediation sets its course, north or south. In my 10 years of mediation, I have never seen a party make the kind of movement, whether emotionally or financially, in private as they do in joint. Sure, movement may manifest itself away from the public glare but it is usually as a result of insight gained in the fire of a joint session.

Of great importance to Geoff as well is the capacity for mediation to bring transparency to people whose differences have largely kept them in the dark, as well as revelations that light their understanding. To bring his point home, he shares the quote from Leonard Cohen with which I began this post. The joint session illuminates the shadows and brings the sun to the dark places in the disputes that divide us. Go read this working paper – it truly shines.

Mediation and negotiation link roundup: good stuff worth reading

Moo! Mediation Channel round-up of articles on mediation and negotiationEvery couple of weeks I round up here at Mediation Channel the links to articles I’ve shared with my followers on Twitter. (For those of you not familiar with this popular social media tool, you may wish to read “Negotiating Twitter: a mediator test drives the hot social media craze“, an article I recently wrote.)

Here’s the latest batch for your reading pleasure. I hope you find them interesting, useful, or just plain entertaining: