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    In 2005 the Association for Conflict Resolution (ACR) established a worldwide initiative- Conflict Resolution Day, which occurs every third Thursday in October. The purpose of this day is for dispute resolution practitioners to celebrate and raise awareness about conflict resolution methods such as mediation, arbitration, conciliation, etc. The logo designed for this event is a tree rooted in the ground with leaves that depict the avenues in which an individual can resolve conflict: mediation, conciliation, facilitation, arbitration, negation. Our logo of the tree was designed as a symbol to celebrate growth in Conflict Resolution. The first year, start small, but just like the tree the seeds you plant one year, will continue to grow and blossom each year (ACR.com). As an annual occasion, many organizations have established numerous events/programs in honor of Conflict Resolution Day. This year on October 16th the following programs/events are being held (please note this is only a partial list):

    Conflict Resolution Day Activity Suggestions:

    • Create conflict resolution promotional material and distribute it to the public on Conflict Resolution Day
    • Hold a conflict resolution workshop at a local college or university
    • Recognize conflict resolution leaders and or volunteers in your community
    • Produce t-shirts, mugs or other items supporting conflict resolution
    • Propose story ideas to print and broadcast media

    What will you do to celebrate Conflict Resolution Day?

    To learn more about Conflict Resolution Day visit the ACRnet.org click on the home page/education & training/conflict resolution day.

    By Yvette Watson Jenkins

    Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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  • cultural-awarenessOn March 31st, the U.S. Army rolled out Army Regulation 670-1, which addresses unauthorized hairstyles; many of which are popular among African American women for example cornrows, twists, and braids. As a woman with chemical free hair, also known as “natural” hair, I was shocked when this news came across my iPhone timeline. Many believe the new grooming guidelines are insensitive to women with natural hair and pin points the African American community. The U.S. Army can be depicted as having a lack of cultural sensitivity, offensive, or biased. Michelle LeBaron (2003) suggests, “Culture is an essential part of conflict and conflict resolution. Cultures are like underground rivers that run through our lives and relationships, giving us messages that shape our perceptions, attributions, judgments, and ideas of self and other. Though cultures are powerful, they are often unconscious, influencing conflict and attempts to resolve conflict in imperceptible ways”. The conflict between the U.S. Army and African American women in the army is just one of many cultural mishaps occurring in today’s world. As a society with an abundance presence of diversity how does one become culturally aware so not to offend?

    Culture awareness is being thoughtful and mindful of one another’s cultural values, beliefs, perceptions, body image (clothing, hair, and jewelry), religion, race, language, etc. As a stepping stone to become more culturally aware I would suggest first understanding the definition of culture. Second, be conscious of the assumptions you make about another. Misconceptions do not allow you to see the person for who they are, but for what you assume they are. These false assumptions can perhaps create conflict. For example, my husband told me about a time where he entered the school office and said “good morning” to everyone and noticed one of the young lady’s did not speak back. The second and third day he did the same thing; still no response from the young lady. As a result, he felt disrespected and perceived the young lady as rude and ill-mannered. In speaking with a friend, he learned her culture did not allow for speaking to the opposite sex. This was an eye opener for my husband and me as neither of us had been aware of such.

    As a result of the previous cultural misunderstanding, I have come up with three ways to better ourselves and become more culturally aware – (1) be open to learning about other cultures (2) establish a diverse networking group; and (3) ask questions to gain more understanding. All in all, in a multicultural society it is important to have cultural awareness. Not doing so will only contribute to cultural ignorance. Furthermore, if one is not willing to understand or gain knowledge about another’s culture then there will always be misunderstanding, perceived notions or false assumptions.

    “I do not want my house to be walled in on all sides and my windows to be stuffed. I want the cultures of all the lands to be blown about my house as freely as possible. But I refuse to be blown off my feet by any.” Mahatma Gandhi

    By Yvette Watson Jenkins
    Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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  • TC Blog 8 Men and Women Communication (delete)Communication can be challenging regardless of whether you are communicating with your friends, family members, co-workers or boss. But why do we appear to have such a difficult time communicating with the opposite sex? Regardless of a person’s ethnicity, race, or sex, people converse using verbal and nonverbal communication.

    What is the communication challenge?
    Verbal communication can be heard by another. It involves communicating a message using words. When you are communicating orally or verbally you are sending your message by speaking to the other person. On several occasions during conversations I have had with my brothers, male friends, or significant other, they have checked-out. Their eye’s glaze over and they are no longer listening to a word I am saying. Several of my female friends have also had similar complaints. If the incident happens repeatedly, it can cause conflict within those relationships. The main complaints I’ve heard and experienced from other women is that they feel ignored by the male and wonder if what they have to say is unimportant.

    Why does this happen?
    This happens because women and men have different goals and expectations and therefore communicate differently. Women see communication as a way to express themselves and their emotions, and share their experiences with others as a way to build rapport. Men see communication as a way to problem-solve, which may then lead to an action.

    What is Nonverbal Communication?
    Nonverbal Communication uses body language to send a message without the use of words. These actions can be:
    o Facial Expressions
    o Tone
    o Posture
    o Attitude

    Women are often expressive with their use of nonverbal communication. Women tend to use physical contact, such as a hug, or the squeeze of an arm or shoulder. Women also use their hands to emphasize what they are conveying in their message. Men, however, tend to be less skilled in using subtle body language such as leaning forward, nodding, or titling their head to show they are engaged in the conversation. A key to men’s non-verbal communication is found in their posture.

    Two examples of posture are:
    o Standing straight with arms parallel to torso – Shows openness and willingness to talk.
    o Hands behind the back with palms on hips – Displays a desire for something to end or be finished.

    How can Nonverbal Communication be helpful?
    Nonverbal communication can be helpful during a conversation by:
    • Providing feedback to the person speaking that you are listening. For example, nodding your head in understanding.
    • Providing a window into their emotions. Is the listener smiling, frowning, or perhaps shrugging their shoulders?

    Scenario: I am sharing my experience about how my job interview went and twenty minutes into sharing, my brother’s eyes glaze over. What do I do now?

    For Women:

    • Observe the facial expressions and then acknowledge it has been 20 minutes. Check-in with him to see if he has more time to listen. Remember KISS (Keep it short and simple)
    • Verbally communicate what you need from him before you share your experience with the job interview. For example, “I really need to talk to you about my job interview and get your feedback.” Remember, men are action-oriented in their goal of communication. Give them something to do as they listen to your story.

    For Men:

    • Consider these questions:
      • Has your attention started to drift?
      • Is there something distracting you from listening?
      • Why have you checked out?
    • Remind yourself why you are listening by asking her what she needs from you while you are listening
    • Acknowledge or validate her by simply saying “I hear how excited you are about the interview.”

    Women and men communicate differently both verbally and nonverbally. But if you go into your next conversation aware of what the differences are, potential conflicts can be avoided. To further understand the differences in male/female communication and to learn further tools and strategies, tune in to Gregg Catalano’s podcast That’s Not What I Meant! on the Texas Conflict Coach® website.

    By Tracy Culbreath
    Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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Welcome to Texas Conflict Coach®. I am your host Pattie Porter, conflict resolution expert, mediator, conflict coach, facilitator and speaker. - Read More



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