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Childhood Gender Diversity: A Natural Variation in Human Development



Jenn BurletonTracy CulbreathWhen children enter this world, the adults greeting them have many assumptions already in place about their future. If the child has a penis, projections about masculinity-driven biological and societal experiences prevail, if the child does not have a penis, a femininity-driven future is imagined with regard to biological development and social opportunities.
But in approximately 1.5-3% of families with a transgender child, those projected futures may not be in the cards, because their child simply does not identify with the gender role assigned to them based on their genitalia. In fact, enforcement of those gender expectations may cause the child profound distress. This is the world of a transgender child and their families.


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The Sure Fire Way to Stop Bullying NOW!

anita telleTracy CulbreathFrom top Corporate business woman, to internationally acclaimed author, Anita Telle talks to us about how her child being bullied, changed her and her son’s life as well as the lives of many people from around the world. She has a mission: To teach acceptance and love to children ages 4 – 9 so they will grow up to be amazing, supportive and loving teenagers, immune to peer pressure and bullying. She also has a story to tell. And it’s an important story; one that touches everyone, everywhere, from every culture. But it is especially important for children:
Being different IS normal. We are all different, in different ways.


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Our Radio Program Family Grows

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LaurenAndrewsPicOur global online radio program, The Texas Conflict Coach®, has grown to over 250,000 listens with over 250 podcasts on a myriad of conflict management topics. The podcast library is searchable and ready to listen, download and share.

We could not make this community outreach program available without our growing family. Today, we have three guest hosts: Zena Zumeta, Stephen Kotev, and our newest addition, Tracy Culbreath. We have our Executive Assistant, Shawn Tebbetts who is extraordinarily resourceful in making every guest a special part of our family. And finally, we have come to rely on our student interns who are responsible for research, blog posts, social media networks, community outreach, and special projects. Abigail Clark, who graduated with her Master’s in Negotiation and Conflict Management, decided to stay on as an Apprentice. We are excited she will continue to be part of our family.

And now, let me introduce to you our newest graduate student intern, Lauren Thompson Andrews. Lauren is currently enrolled in the Conflict Negotiation/Conflict Management Master’s Program at the University of Baltimore in Maryland. She’s a mother of two amazing children, a savvy entrepreneur and a long time student of the healing arts, Reiki II. With herbal and natural healing remedies passed down from her grandmothers, she’s used these ancient teachings and gifts to put her family on a path of wellness. She even started a consulting business with coaching people in wellness by sharing her healing wisdom and nature remedies. Speaking of gifts, Lauren has a natural gift for gab and has worked as a long time radio broadcaster for 15+ years. Now, Lauren is reintroducing herself to the world as a Conflict Coach by helping people get up when life knocks them down. She will help them keep going toward their goals and persevering against all odds. Lauren persevered and her message is, “You can too”!

Pattie Porter, Founder and Host

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Senior Mediation and Decision Making

Bob RhudyTracy CulbreathPersons aged 65 and older are the fastest growing part of the population, and many families confront sometimes difficult decisions about care-giving, housing, health care, estate planning, and end of life planning for aging parents and other family members. Bob Rhudy, president of Senior Mediation and Decision-Making, Inc., Baltimore, Maryland, discusses the types of services that senior (or “elder”) mediators provide to help families manage and resolve conflict in these matters.


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Online Dispute Resolution: Have You Heard of Cyber Week?

Each year the Werner Institute at Creighton University hosts an annual virtual Conference for Online Dispute Resolution (ODR) called Cyber Week. In its 17th year, this annual conference is now hosted via ADRhub. ODR consists of dispute resolution practices (mediation, negotiation, arbitration, etc…) that use technology to facilitate the resolution of disputes between parties across the spectrum from e-commerce disputes to family disputes. This year, Cyber Week was held during November 3, 2014 – November 7, 2014.Cyber Week

This free virtual conference focuses on the new developments and innovations regarding dispute resolution online. This week’s conference included discussion forums where participants had the opportunity to engage in dialogue via chat, such as topics pertaining to Cyber-Safety and Ethical Considerations for practitioners. . Webinars including “Challenges and Innovations in Responding to Digital Bullying” and demonstrations using virtual mediation rooms gave participants a feel for how these tools work. This engaging week also hosted an Ethics Essay contest and an e-Mediation competition. The Texas Conflict Coach radio program returns for its 4th year hosting a program. This year focuses on “Tech for Justice:Using Technology to Expand Access to Justice.”  As technologies continue to advance, more businesses and transactions are moving online. Cyber Week introduces participants with the technology tools and strategies for managing and preventing conflicts online.

Who can attend?
Anyone who is interested in participating in Cyber Week may register. Participants range from academics, scholars, ODR and dispute resolution practitioners, and the general public.

What if I missed Cyber Week?
By visiting the Cyber Week home page on ADRhub.com you can access the archived webinars from previous years. And, don’t forget Cyberweek will return in November 2015 for its 18th annual event.

How can I learn more about ODR?

The Texas Conflict Coach® website has several programs regarding ODR. Some programs that may interest you are:
Tech For Better, Not For Worse: Online Dispute Resolution In Everyday Life with guests Bill Warters, Ph.D and Colin Rule as they share suggestions for communication strategies to foster online relationships.
Supporting Conflict Resolution Skills in Social Media and Online Forums with guests Leah Wing and Tom Murrary provide tools to foster better communication and conflict resolution skills for online relationships.

We often focus on tools, strategies, and third parties available to assist parties in conflict offline, and rarely speak to the resources available online. Next time you are in conflict, remember you are not alone. There are resources and services available to help resolve your dispute virtually. I encourage you to join ADRhub.com, participate in Cyber Week, and learn how you can make a difference by simply using technology to resolve disputes.

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

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A Safe Space for Sharing: Circle Processes

Circle ProcessIn keeping with the spirit of Conflict Resolution Month (raising awareness of dispute resolution processes), I often hear of arbitration, mediation, and negotiation. Rarely have I come across an individual who speaks of Circle Processes, specifically Peacemaking Circles. The Circle Process allows for each party involved in the process to share their story and be heard in a safe space. When stories are shared, it gives each participant listening a view into the speaker’s life. Circle Processes are currently being used worldwide, and originated from the indigenous tradition of Talking Circles.

Who controls the Circle Process and what does it look like?
Each circle process has a facilitator or keeper. The facilitator is responsible for maintaining a safe space in order to maintain the constructive dialogue between each participant. During a circle process, the following takes place.
• A talking piece such as a rain stick, feather, or stress ball is used to regulate the conversation. The person who holds the talking piece may speak without interruption which allows participants to focus on listening.
• Participants set guidelines for how they will behave in order to maintain a safe space.
• The process begins and ends with an activity that establishes the circle as a safe space and centers the participants.
• Decision-making is carried out as a consensus; each participant must be willing to live with the decision made and its implementation. The key to this aspect is relationship-building. The circle enables the participants to see beyond the issues that have brought them there and connect with the participants.

What is the Circle Process used for?
• When a decision needs to be made collectively
• There is a disagreement amongst multiple parties
• To discuss an experience that resulted in some type of harm (e.g. personal injury, property damage, emotional harm)

Where is the Circle Process being used?
• Schools
• Neighborhoods
• Workplaces
• Justice System/Prisons

According to Kay Pranis, a leader in restorative justice and the co-author of Peacemaking Circles: From Crime to Community and Doing Democracy with Circles, there are a variety of uses for circle dialogues. Here are different types of Circles below:

Talking Circles – Allows participants to explore a topic or issue from the various perspectives around the room.
Circles of Understanding – Focused on understanding an aspect of conflict or situation
Healing Circles – Share the pain of a person or persons who have experienced trauma or loss
Sentencing Circles – A community directed process in partnership with the criminal justice system.
Support Circles – Brings people together to support a particular person during a life change
Community Building Circles – Foster bonds and build relationships between a group or groups of people who have a shared interest.
Conflict Circles – brings disputing parties together to resolve differences
Reintegration Circle – Brings together an individual and a group or community from which that individual has been estranged
Celebration or Honoring Circles – Bring together a group of people to recognize an individual or group.

Circle Processes provide participants with the ability to tap into what we are as humans. It builds a connection between participants on an emotional and spiritual level allowing for the sharing of experiences that provides insight into understanding one another and providing inner peace. Find out what practitioners are in your state, and find the circle that is right for you.

You may learn about other restorative justice practices such as Peacemaking in schools with Bill Sower and Susan Butterwick, or Community Conferencing with Lauren Abramson, by visiting the Texas Conflict Coach® website.

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

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Lowballing the Public: Mediators serving without a binding ethics code on 40 hours of training

Dr. Jack R. GoetzPattie-fade.jpg (2)Bio PictureThe practice of mediation is largely unregulated throughout the United States.  In contrast to more formalized professions, such as nursing, social work, law, medicine or accounting, mediators generally have a fraction of the training, have no required ethics code, and no minimum quality testing.  Dr. Goetz will chronicle current efforts in voluntary mediator certification underway in California to raise the level of mediator education and training and require a binding ethics code to serve the public.


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Decoding the Communication between Women and Men

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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What happens on the bus, shouldn’t stay on the bus!

TC Blog 7 - School Bus ConflictWith the start of 2014-2015 school year in full swing, children across the country will be boarding the school bus to arrive before the morning bell sounds. According to the National Highway Safety Administration, school buses are the safest mode of transportation for getting children back and forth to school. But how safe is a child from the other children inside of the bus? School bus bullying is becoming a growing concern among parents, school administrations, and bus drivers. According to the U.S. Department of Education 10 percent of school bullying occurs on the school bus. Stopbullying.gov defines bullying as “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

What are the signs of a child being bullied on the school bus?
• Reluctance to ride the school bus
• Repeated occurrences of “missing the bus”
• Asking others to take them to school to avoid the bus

School bus drivers have a very important task, which is to make sure every child on the bus arrives safely to and from school. To prevent or stop school bus bullying, it takes a village (parents, teachers, and bus drivers).

What can you do if a child is being bullied on the bus?
• Listen – It’s not easy for a child to say they are being picked on. When they bring it up, listen.
• Ask open-ended questions. An open-ended question can’t be answered with a yes or no response. Some examples of open-ended questions are:

  • What happened on the bus today?
  • How did you feel about riding the bus today?
  • Who do you like to sit with on the bus?
  • Who do you stay away from on the bus?

The buddy system – Have the child sit with a neighbor or friend.
• Have the child being bullied sit on the right front side of the bus. They can be seen in the bus driver’s mirror.

How can the school administrators and bus drivers be involved?
If you feel that more action is necessary, you can contact the school administration and find out what policies are in place for bullying on the school bus. If the school buses have assigned seats, suggest that they separate the children that are being bullied or are bullying others. Also some school buses may have cameras, find out if the child’s bus has a camera that could discourage bullying.

All children deserve to be and feel safe on the bus and at the school. Don’t let a child start their school day off as a victim of bullying. By working to identify and prevent bullying on the bus and at school, they can start and end their school day without fear of being threatened. This will take the joint effort from teachers, parents, bus drivers, and the school administration. It is time to start making a difference, how aware are you?

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

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Back to School: Tackling Roommate Disputes

Roommate ProblemsWhen I was pursing undergrad, my friends often came to me with roommate conflicts. When you prepare to go away to college, you talk to your parents about the supplies you will need, how bills will be paid, and map out your plans for when you will visit again. But you don’t talk to your parents about what you will do when your roommate is messy, eats your food, or just has a different lifestyle than you.

Universities and Community Colleges have prep classes that offer guidance on adjusting to college life and highlight the differences between high school and undergrad, but what is often missing from the curriculum is conflict management. They don’t tell you how to have a difficult conversation regarding the upkeep of your dorm, the policies on visitors, or rules for food in the refrigerator.

Some other roommate conflicts college students may encounter are:
• Lack of privacy
• Borrowing without permission
• Study time vs party time
• Lifestyle differences

The question is how do you resolve these differences when experiencing them for the first time? Colleges often have conflict resolution mechanisms in place such as the Resident Advisor (RA) or the Student Resources Office. Resident advisors are usually students responsible for fostering a community atmosphere in dorms and resident halls. They can serve as peer counselors and enforce policies to ensure the safety of students living in the facility. Student Resource Offices strive to help students succeed at the institute and provide a wealth of resources ranging from job and internship placement to resume building workshops. Academic Advisors and counselors can sometimes be found in Student Resource Offices.

Some students may take advantage of their RA’s and Student Resource Offices. However, others shy away from these third parties and try to solve conflicts on their own. Here are some tips that may be helpful to you to reduce potential roommate conflicts:
• Check your false assumptions and listen to the roommate’s perspective. For example, Anna came home at 4am on the eve of your Biology final. The next evening you confront her about her lack of respect when you were sleeping. What you didn’t know was that Anna was rear-ended coming home from the library and had spent the wee hours of the morning waiting for a tow truck.
• Be transparent. Your roommate only knows what you tell them. Another typical example is you are homesick. You make an excuse and cancel your plans to go out with your roommate because you spent the last of your money on comfort foods. Your roommate’s feelings are hurt. Be careful not to assume they know how you feel.
• Set guidelines or roommate rules. Discuss and decide upfront if you are going to rotate buying groceries, when the latest visitor is allowed over, and determine the rules for sharing and borrowing of property among other issues important to each of you.

Conflict is inevitable but the key to effective conflict management is to address the issues head on by checking your false assumptions, being transparent, and setting guidelines. Don’t let your disputes tackle you, being proactive will not only strengthen the quality of interaction between you and your roommate but also prevent conflict from making your living arrangement uncomfortable. Remember, if you don’t voice your concerns, you don’t give your roommate a chance to address them.

Now go out there and have a great start to your school year!

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

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