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Home for the Holidays: Reconnecting Authentically with Successful Conversations

friends-581753_1920The holidays are a time filled with catching up with old friends and family. Since electronic communication has taken over the world; the face-to-face conversation has become a difficult one to hold for many people. Therefore, below is a list of do’s and don’ts on how to generate successful dialogue with your relatives and old friends.

DO listen attentively. A conversation should be a back and forth effort, and for that to occur you must be able to listen and respond to what the person is saying. It is important to make eye contact with the person speaking, give a nod or some other sort of acknowledgment that shows the person you are listening such as, “That must have been exciting for you”.

DO ask questions. My mother once told me that if I ever find myself stuck in conversation to ask the person questions about themselves and I found this to be very successful. It is important to ask open-ended questions – ones that cannot be answered with a simple “yes” or “no.” For example, “How did that impact the kids when you moved to the new neighborhood?”

DO end the conversation. I say this one because once the conversation begins to taper off people don’t know how to conclude the dialogue politely and what transpires is an awkward ending or silence. Therefore, when you notice the conversation has reached its end, add a few comments or appreciative remarks to conclude. Every good conversation has a beginning, middle, and end. Simply say, “I appreciate you sharing that experience with me.”

DON’T use your cell phone unless it’s an emergency. People today are constantly connected. It becomes difficult for two people to have a conversation if one or both of them are checking their social media or texting others. It also sends the message the person you are currently face-to-face with is not as important as the person on the other end of the phone. So, therefore, put the phones away even having them out in plain sight can be distracting.

DON’T interrupt. When the person is speaking, don’t cut them off to share your insight or personal story, or finish their sentence if you anticipate it’s ending. Both would imply that you were not actively listening to what the person was saying and don’t think what they are saying is important.

DON’T discuss or make jokes about taboo topics. Nowadays, we don’t always know where people, including our family and friends, stand on politics, religion, healthcare, and other sensitive topics – including our family and friends. Therefore, it is best to politely change the subject or avoid making jokes about sensitive material to maintain a successful dialogue.

Conversations with old friends and relatives during the holidays does not need to be an awkward exchange. Instead, use these Do’s and Don’ts to help increase the chances of a successful conversation.

 

Happy Holidays,

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S. Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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Back to School and the Woes of Pokémon™ Go

cc0 public domain pokemon go cellAs referenced in the Wall Street Journal article by Sarah Needleman entitled “’Pokémon™ Go’ Craze Raises Safety Issues”, the cell phone app game called “Pokémon™ Go” has caused concern on many levels. These concerns are due to the nature of the game, which involves on-foot travel to capture specific characters and collect them to battle others who play the game. According to Needleman’s article, Don Boyes, a geography professor at the University of Toronto maintains the game itself “could be potentially leading people into areas where they don’t belong.” This safety concern is because the Pokéstops™ (places where you can collect Pokemon™ characters) are sites where people can get hurt when they are not paying attention, such as construction sites and abandoned properties. Not only is the game posing concerns around physical safety, but the game also may raise concerns for parents who have children going back to school.

In the CNN article entitled “A parents’ guide to Pokémon™ Go”, author Christopher Dawson notes concerns related to how much time children spend looking at the screen and playing.  While he cites the benefits of exercise, he also notes that parents should be aware that children are simultaneously walking and playing the game and not paying attention to their surroundings. As a result, children are prone to injuries such as getting hit by cars, walking on rough terrain and getting robbed by thieves. In addition to physical safety and inattention, many parents, and even I see another concern, and that is the game can be very addictive.  Students, in general, are already addicted to their Smart phones texting, calling and using social media. It is hard not to stay constantly plugged in for most young people.  For teachers, one of their main concerns is keeping students focused in class without the need to compete for their attention. Even though I am not a parent, I too struggle in balancing my time with technology and the expectations of time spent with family.   For example, my family does not care about using phones at the table or while talking to one another. The expectation is to focus our communication on each other.

Here are some tips to consider how you might help raise awareness, guide and manage your kids’ game play.

1)  Set a time limit for young kids. Give your children time limits and restrictions including when they can play their app games. Follow through with consequences including the possibility of uninstalling the app from their phone. On the other hand, reward them with gameplay when they do well in school.

2)  For older students, expose them to the news stories on the dangers and consequences of Pokémon™ Go. Hopefully, they can see how far is too far with this game. Follow up with a simple talk and raise awareness of the dangerous addiction to the game.

3)  If you are a parent or teacher, research the actual game and become familiarized with the various components of the game. Even if you are totally turned off towards the idea of the game, the kids may be more inclined to listen to your guidance if you know simply how fun this can be to them.

Here are two additional strategies for teaching kids safety while playing Pokémon™ Go, as cited by blog article “Ground rules for catching ’em all” by Brittany Morgan.

1)  Teach children to “look up” as Brittany states so that they are aware of their surroundings.

2)  Encourage children to play the game in “teams” so they are not alone while catching their characters. This team concept allows safety in numbers.

With kids returning to school, it is my sincere hope that these tips are helpful to you by raising awareness that your children can have a healthy balance of fun and safety while enjoying the game Pokémon™ Go.

Sincerely,

 

Ann Margaret Zelenka

Graduate Student Intern

University of Baltimore

Negotiations and Conflict Management Program

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Virtual Exchange: Renewing Civic Engagement at a Time of Unprecedented Interconnectedness

This episode is a special edition for the Association for Conflict Resolution’s (ACR) annual conference and virtual track.

 

waidehi-gokhalerangineh-azimzadeh-tosangIn a digitally connected world where diversity of identities is a reality which we must confront every time we log into our smart phones and social media accounts, academia has played a pioneering role in the way we learn how to be inclusive and embrace diversity.  Nevertheless, recent demonstrations across American campuses as well as the growing expressions of hate and violence in online space worldwide, make question the preparedness of traditional education methods to tackle the virtual multicultural world we live in. Grassroots intercultural dialogue programs between citizens living in different societies have flourished over the past decade as a response to the growing antagonism between some of those societies. Those programs aim at building mutual understanding and a sense of empathy among participants, creating bridges and fostering a new culture of constructive engagement between young citizens. Lately, online dialogue programs carried out by organizations like Soliya have received an official acknowledgment of their relevance in a fast changing world. Panelists involved as implementors of Soliya’s Connect Program will engage in an interactive discussion with participants on the lessons learned from Soliya’s 13 years experience, the current evolutions of dialogue processes and the value of virtual exchange as a growing field in the world of intercultural dialogue and conflict resolution education.

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For more information or to apply as a facilitator, visit Soliya

Connect with Soliya:  Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn

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Did you see what she posted? Tips for Teenage Tiffs, Fights and Quarrels Online

browsing-15824_1280I am standing in the checkout line at a clothing store the other day when I overheard two teenage girls discussing a recent fight they had with another girl, “Emma” on social media. Apparently, Emma tweeted an ambiguous quote about being a bad friend, and one of the girls knew she was directing the comment at her, despite Emma not using her name, because of the pictures she had recently posted with a boy Emma use to date. The other girl responded that Emma always puts stuff online but won’t ever say things to your face. The girl who was offended by Emma’s ambiguous quote responded, ” Yeah I know, I am seriously about to unfriend her...”

The interaction between these two girls brought up several concerns for how teens interact online.

The first concern is jumping to conclusions about what you read online. The two girls had no idea whether Emma was talking about them or not when she posted the quote. The girl assumed it was about her and rather than asking Emma directly; she jumped to conclusions.

The second concern piggybacks off the first. One girl stated, “Emma always does this stuff online but won’t say things to your face.” Again, there isn’t direct communication to check out those assumptions. On one side of the coin, the internet and social media gives people who are shy, introverted or even conflict averse, a voice. This can be good. On this other side of the coin it can be bad. This leads to my 3rd concern.

My third concern with this interaction is that without any dialogue between Emma and the girl who is offended, Emma is willing to “unfriend” her and end their friendship. The public nature of social media and the peer pressure to take action not only leads to false conclusions but hurt feelings, misunderstood intentions, and unnecessary conflict.

An article by Amanda Lenhart from Pew Research Center highlights some interesting statistics regarding social media, conflict and friendships. Lenhart shares, “About one-in-four teens (26%) have fought with a friend because of something that first happened online or because of a text message.” Another statistic Lenhart expounds, “58% of teens who are on social media or have a cell phone have unfriended or unfollowed someone that they used be friends with.”

Technology brings a lot of good to the world, but the conflict I overheard is a part of the bad it brings. The conflict discussed brings up a concern for the rising adolescent generation who have never known the world without cell phones and the internet. The majority of teen’s interactions appears to be in these two forums. Consider this. When vague comments set you off, or you view a picture online that stirs up drama, or you are unfriending anyone you are in conflict with, what will come of that relationship? If you were on the receiving end of being unfriended or unliked, how would you have preferred that friend to have handled the situation?

The best advice: Go offline; Put Down the Phone; and Have a Face – To -Face Conversation.

I am not suggesting remove yourself from social media and completely go off the grid, which for many of you teenagers would experience as a form of torture. However, we see information online and jump to conclusions; take what you read and see it at face value. It is important to remember that you have more confidence to say whatever you think and feel online and in text than face – to – face. The ending of a friendship online does not resolve the conflict offline. Just because you can no longer see your friend’s statuses, tweets, or photos doesn’t mean you don’t see them in person and still have to deal with the perceived conflict.

Quick tips:

* People are more willing to talk openly with you when you are one – on- one. Pull the person aside privately and directly ask if you have done something to offend them. Simply ask “I saw a post and wanted to know, have I done something to make you upset?”

* Raising a conflict face-to-face makes many people uneasy. After the initial inquiry, regardless of whether the post was about you or not, then simply state,” I just wanted to make sure so we could clear the air.”

* Don’t be so quick to unfriend/unfollow. It is a nice feature to have at the click of a button, but impulsively severing friendships can cause more damage and be harder to repair.

Technology and social networks have connected everyone in so many amazing ways. It has also changed how we communicate, interpret and interact creating positive and negative impacts.

 

Abigail R. C. McManus M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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Is your teen being moody? Or are they being bullied? Tips and Strategies for parents whose teens may be victims of bullying

t1larg.cyber.bullying.gi-1Bullying has become one of the biggest topics of conversation in today’s education system. Bullying caused conflict between two or more students and left unresolved, can result in severe consequences. According to Dosomething.org, “Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year”. Dosomething.org also points out “Only 1 in 10 victims will inform a parent or trusted adult of their abuse”. Teens may not be reporting their abuse to their parents. Therefore, the parents may have no idea it is occurring until it is too late. While I am not a parent, I would feel in these situations both helpless and hurt if my child was being bullied and I had no idea. I have brainstormed below some tips and strategies for parents whose teens may be victims of bullying and what they can do to assist their teen in managing these conflicts.

  1. Talk to your adolescents. I know teenagers are challenging during this period of their life when they are changing daily and regularly pushing the boundaries of freedom. But, parents you need to talk with your kids, even if it’s small talk about the mundane events of their lives. Keeping lines of communication open are necessary because if your child feels they cannot disclose information to you then they won’t.
  2. Keep your cool. If your child does open up about the conflicts they are experiencing in school, jumping into protective parent mode could make your child hesitant to tell you things in the future. Keep in mind, involving your parents is uncool during your teen years. Instead, brainstorm with your teen constructive ways to manage their conflict that does not involve contacting the other parents or administration.
  3. Be observant of your child’s behavior and temperaments. I know irritability and mood swings are typical in teenagers, but if your teen withdraws, or their personality makes an 180° turn, then that is cause for concern. Take notice if your child appears more upset after texting on her phone or using the computer, cyber bullying has become a serious issue in today’s society. If your teen seems more upset than usual after using these technologies, someone could be harassing him or her.
  4. Take a timeout from social media. Teens are spending a lot more time on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and other social media platforms. Surfing the sites to see what their friends are doing can be very addicting. Parents suggest to your teen that they take a break for a couple of hours each week. Unlike back in the day, when students were being bullied, they could escape from it when they went home. Technology has allowed bullies to enter into the home and continue their harassment of your teen. Requesting your teen take some time away from social media could assist them from getting away from their bully.
  5. Teach your teen how to manage conflict constructively. Conflict does not have to be a bad thing. Teaching your teen to confront their bully, without violence can be a confidence booster. Teach your teen to ask their bully questions such as, why are you treating me this way? What can be done to resolve this? If the bullying persists, tell your teen to come to you.
  6. If bullying does continue, ask your teen if it is okay to intervene. If they agree, go to the administration and ask what they feel can be done to resolve this issue.

Bullying is not okay. Unfortunately, many administrators and teachers in the school system see this behavior as normal and acceptable. But, when adolescents are resorting to harming themselves as a way out, the issue becomes life and death. Parents, I urge you to check in with your teens and make sure they have not fallen victim to bullying behavior.

 

Abigail Clark M.S Negotiation and Conflict Management

Apprentice

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Retailers and customers resolving customer complaints as PARTNERS

Zbyněk LoeblStephenKotev2-smallCustomers and traders have much more balanced relationship now than in the past, due to the role of social media and customer reviews. The key role of online social media forces traders to actively engage in partner dialogue with their customers. Customers will have more significant role also in resolving customer complains. How?  Listen to our broadcast.

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Beyond the Click – How Social Media is Being Used to Build Peace

 

Dr. Craig ZelizerStephenKotev2-small

 

 

 

 

 

 

In this digitally connected age, social media has become a powerful tool to advance peace.  Join Dr. Craig Zelizer as we discuss how to move beyond the click and utilize these powerful tools to promote peace.  Listen in on October 7th  and meet us at this intersection of technology and peace.

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Working with and Learning from Conflict in Higher Education

 

Bill Warterszena Zumeta

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bill Warters, an expert on conflict resolution in higher education, will describe the Master of Arts in Dispute Resolution program based in the Department of Communication at Wayne State University in Detroit.  He will review dispute resolution in Higher Education generally and explore some current trends in the field. He will also describe a new community conflict resolution outreach initiative into the East Side of Detroit.  Finally, Bill will introduce listeners to some very useful resources he maintains for educators interested in conflict resolution (see CREducation.org).

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Supporting Conflict Resolution Skills in Social Media and Online Forums

To learn more about Cyberweek and Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) activities, visit ADRHub.com.

Leah Wing

Tom Murray

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Social media and the Internet are transforming society, providing new benefits but also new hazards. Some have suggested that online communication and collaboration may lead to decreased civility, mutual understanding, and communicative clarity, as compared with face-to-face methods. Such negative trends can occur, but are they inevitable? We have been investigating whether online communication tools can actually support more skillful communication and deeper mutual understanding, especially in situations involving conflict, controversial topics, or differences in goals and perspectives.

What if online interactions could be designed to support more empathy, self-reflection, perspective taking, civility, and curiosity? Our preliminary research on new tools which support these abilities have found that they do foster better communication and conflict resolution skills in people engaged in online interactions. In this discussion we will explore these issues, giving some examples, and speak about tools for supporting positive conflict resolution skill use for social media and online communication.

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