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Holiday Shopping List: Conflict Resolution Style!

Holiday Gift Guide 2The holiday season is quickly approaching. Do you know what to get that special someone in your life? No fret. Let this Holiday Shopping List be your guide to the perfect holiday gift for the peace solver in your life. “As we struggle with shopping lists and invitations, compounded by December’s bad weather, it is good to be reminded that there are people in our lives who are worth this aggravation, and people to whom we are worth the same.”     – Donald E. Westlake.

Leave the aggravation behind and give a gift conflict resolution style.

Holiday Shopping List
(click on title for web link)


Minibuk Stop the Dreaded Drama: 55 Tips to Ending Destructive Conflict
Author:  Pattie Porter

Winning from Within: A Breakthrough Method
for Leading, Living and Lasting Change

Author:  Erica Ariel Fox

I am Malala
Author:  Malala Yousafz

Twenty Twinkling Stars
Author:  Laurie Schloff

The Big Book of Conflict Resolution Games
Author: Mary Scannell

Sweet Fruit from the Bitter Tree:
61 Stories Of Creative & Compassionate Ways Out of Conflict
Author:  Mark Andreas


Friendship Island

Conflict Resolution Thumball

Non-Violent Video Games


The Bentwood Collection


Peace is Sexy Swag


Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Starring: Idris Elba, Naomie Harris

Peace, Love and Misunderstanding
tarring: Catherine Keener, Joseph Dunn

Pay It Forward
Starring:Kevin Spacey and Haley Joel Osment


Voices from Around the World: Original Songs of Love for Newtown
Various Artists

Peacetones Fair Music Trade
Various Artists

Music & Conflict
Artist:  John Morgan O’Connell

Toumani and Sidiki
Artists: Toumani & Sidiki


World Peace Game Foundation

Happy shopping and have a safe holiday season!

By Yvette Watson Jenkins

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



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Misconceptions, False Assumptions: Living Unconsciously

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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Twenty Twinkling Stars: (A Children’s book) Celebrating the Children of Sandy Hook Elementary School

19 Sleepy StarIt has been two years since the tragic event on December 14, 2012 at Sandy Hook Elementary School that claimed the lives of 20 children and 6 educators. With school starting for most children in the upcoming weeks how does a parent prepare their children to handle conflict, disagreements and fighting on the playground and classroom? Even at the preschool and early elementary school age, modeling and sharing proactive and positive values and ways to resolve conflict can be very valuable. Having this kind of difficult conversation with your child could potentially be one of the hardest things you will have to do. Each parent will need to assess the situation for yourself and use your best judgment.

As a way to ease into the conversation, I suggest reading a book to your little ones entitled Twenty Twinkling Stars written by Laurie Schloff, Director of Executive Training with The Speech Improvement Company, Inc. and illustrated by Lena Warnke, a New York University student. The book is an intergenerational project where two minds have come together to share the beauty and joy of childhood. According to Laurie Schloff, the book can be used as a tool for “character building” and exhibits the “beauty of children through entertaining stars”. I had the privilege of speaking with Laurie to discuss the book. Her inspiration in writing the book was to “contribute to creating a more peaceful world through communication”.

It was my pleasure speaking with Laurie to gain a little insight into her project, Twenty Twinkling Stars. Here is a reflection of our phone interview:

• What do you want the readers to know about the book -Twenty Twinkling Stars?
The book was written to celebrate the spirit, joy, and passion of the twenty children of Sandy Hook Elementary School. I wrote Twenty Twinkling Stars to contribute to creating a more peaceful world through communication. The characters in the book are stars that have personalities – Caring Star, Courage Star, Love Bug Star, Sporty Star, Artist, Star, Music Star, Birthday Star, etc. Whimsical rhymes and the beautiful illustration are designed to appeal to young children between the ages of three and seven.

• What challenges did you incur while writing the book?
Pain and heartbreak at first. Then joy emerged as we celebrated the lives of the lost children as well as the energy joy and passions of children everywhere.

• Do you have a favorite star? If so, which star and why?
Sleepy Star is my favorite because he sleeps on the moon and dreams. Also, my last name Schloff, means “sleep “in German. Reading about sleepy star me just help your little ones go to dreamland!

• How can one purchase the book and learn more information?
To purchase the book, visit National SAVE or Amazon.com.

• Why did you partner with SAVE?
We wanted to contribute to an organization which uses communication as a tool to solve conflict. All the proceeds of the book will go to the organization SAVE (The National Associations of Students Against Violence Everywhere) a non-profit organization dedicated to decreasing potential for violence in school and communities with a focus on using communication as a tool to help youth resolve conflict through nonviolence.

Laurie and Lena were special guests on The Texas Conflict Blog Talk Radio program. Tune in to hear about how they partnered together and their thoughts on the book. In addition, Laurie provides five techniques for communicating in a peaceful, proactive way.

“We miss your exuberant endless joy. Take flight my boy, know you have the wings you wanted” – Twenty Twinkling Stars

By Yvette Watson Jenkins
Graduate Student, University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management ProgramStars- frontcover

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Embracing Cultural Differences Requires Challenging Your Mindset


Luis Ore 2011Pattie-fade.jpg (2)Yvette Globalization is making our world smaller with cross-cultural situations at the core. Even though diversity can be a powerful source for creativity, adaptability, and innovation, the potential for conflict increases, requiring, even more attention to how we deal with differences and how people work together. People’s actions reflect people’s thinking. One challenge we all face is the way we think about the parties involved in any conflicting situation. When interacting with others, people assume and attribute intentions to others. An “all-or-nothing” thinking and a right/wrong mindset lead people to play blame games and get stuck judging others instead of looking forward to resolve the matter at hand. Can we get “unstuck”?


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Your Back to School Guide on Truancy

truancyWhat is Truancy?

With the new school year vastly approaching, I feel it is necessary to discuss a topic that is affecting our youth today. Truancy or truant is a term used for a student who has multiple unexcused absences from school. Truancy affects all school age children from kindergarten to high school. Please note the definition may vary slightly depending on your specific state or school district laws. There are two forms of truancy – habitual and chronic. Habitual truancy is when a student misses five or more consecutive schools days, seven or more days in a month or twelve days in a year. Likewise, chronic truancy is a student who misses seven or more consecutive days, ten days in a month, or fifteen in a year.

A few examples of excused/unexcused absences are:

Excused absences: illness with a doctor’s note, death in the family, hazardous weather conditions
Unexcused absences: missing the bus, not wanting to attend school, family trips, work

What Causes Truancy?

There are many factors that can attribute to truant behavior. The Juvenile Justice Bulletin correlates four major categories to truancy:

• Family Factors- lack of parental supervision, domestic violence, drug or alcohol abuse, different viewpoints about education.
• School Factors – school size, nonchalant attitude of the teachers, inconsistent consequences for absentee students
• Economic Influences – single parent, student working full-time, lack of transportation to and from school
• Student Variables – substance abuse, bullying, health issues, stress and other mental health issues

What are the Consequences of Truancy?

The consequences of truancy can have long term effects on students and their families such as dropping out of school, alcohol /drug abuse, criminal activity, teen pregnancy, court fines, or even jail time.

 What is Being Done to Address Truant Behavior?

Some states and school districts have enacted an automated calling system which notifies parents when their child is not marked “present” in the computer. Other states, such as Arizona and California created a program which enforces mandatory school attendance. A county in Arizona, developed program called CUTS (Court Unified Truancy Suppression) which assist and educates the truant offenders by educating and addresses the needs of the child and family. California’s program is called S.T.O.P. (Stop Truancy Opportunity Program) which is a five-step program that notifies the parent of unexcused absences. Once the student reaches the fifth step (7th unexcused absence) a petition with the Juvenile Justice Court is filed requesting the minor be placed on Formal Probation.

What Can Parents Do?

• Speak to your child about truancy and its effects on their life and yours
• Stay actively involved in your child’s school and personal life
• Encourage your child to excel in school
• Be a listening ear
• Look for negative behaviors and changes in mood and address them promptly
• Try truancy mediation

Some states have a special mediation service called truancy mediation. The NSCS (National Center of State Court) will provide you with additional information by state. Listen to our podcast Truancy Mediation-What You Should Know with Michelle Zaremba and Trisha Werts as they discuss truancy and how mediation can be a valuable process for the student, parents, and schools.

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


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Ugh, You make me Sick! The Key to Managing Family Conflict

Blog 8 picFamily conflict is a disagreement between one or more persons within a family unit. This type of conflict can occur between siblings, parents, parents/children, etc.  A little conflict between loved ones is not totally bad.  Conflict can bring along understanding and open the door for much needed conversations.  It is only when conflict goes unresolved that it becomes damaging to oneself and those around them.

Family conflicts can result from something small as a parent asking a child to perform their chores to something larger like divorce.  Other family conflicts may consist of jealously between siblings, death of a family member, loss of a job, disagreements over money, etc.  Conflict within the family may become difficult and raise many emotions and tensions.   Not all conflict is handled the same way. Every person handles and deals with conflict in a very different way. For example, a spouse that lost a job may take the frustration out on a family member instead of using the energy to find another job opportunity.  Whereas another, might not bring the conflict into the family but instead experience inner conflict.  For most of us, family is our number one priority. The question becomes how does one deal with family conflict to ensure it is handled properly and does not end up unresolved or escalating with damaging results?

There are several ways to mitigate family conflict.  The following are five of ten tips Pattie Porter discusses during her segment on the Texas Conflict Blog Talk Radio entitled Top 10 List…Strategies for Constructive Conflict Engagement:

1- Be prepared – reflect on what you might do that triggers the other person

2- Check your attitude- have an open mind

3- Start on the right foot- approach the family member with an invitation to talk. This allows the person to prepare for the conversation

4- Set Boundaries-set ground rules before having the conversation

5- Listen Deeply – focus fully on what person is saying. Do not add your own commentary therefore dismissing their experiences

It is my hope that these tips along with others can help you with your family conflict.

By Yvette Watson Jenkins

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

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Forgive NOW or you’ll pay for it LATER

GrudgeAre you one who finds it hard to forgive someone that has done you wrong?  OR are you one who holds grudges for weeks, months, or even years? If you answered YES to either of the questions LISTEN UP – According to WebMD, Holding a grudge can be bad for your health: 

·         Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, PhD, lead researcher in the study believes that failure to forgive can weaken a person’s health.

·         When people think about their offenders in unforgiving ways, they tend to experience stronger negative emotions and greater [physiological] stress responses,” Charlotte vanOyen Witvliet, PhD,

·         “When I treated patients with cardiovascular disease, I was struck by how many were bitter, angry, and depressed,” Joseph Neumann, PhD.

·         Subjects imagining incidents where they didn’t forgive someone perspired more and had faster heart rates, higher blood pressures, and more distressed facial gestures than forgivers did.

·         Others are finding that bitterness affects the healing rates of cardiovascular patients and their overall sense of wellness

Not only does holding a grudge take a toll on your health but it also can affect your mood.  One can display the following behaviors: anger, resentment, rage, bitterness, revenge, regret, sorrow, shame, remorse, or disappointment.  

Say goodbye to grudges and hello to Forgiveness.  Forgiveness is “a decision to let go of resentment and thoughts of revenge. The act that hurt or offended you might always remain a part of your life, but forgiveness can lessen its grip on you and help you focus on other, positive parts of your life. Forgiveness can even lead to feelings of understanding, empathy and compassion for the one who hurt you”.  Forgiveness can release you from bondage.  When you forgive not only are you able to possibly live a care-free life, but the one whom hurt you can do the same. 

For additional information on how to create a better you by forgiveness check out Dr. LaVena Wilkin’s talk on Forgiveness: The Gift You Give Yourself.

By Yvette Watson Jenkins           

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

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The Potion to Happiness

 “Happiness is not something ready-made.  It comes from your own actions.”  Dalai Lama

Happiness-is..What is happiness and why are some people always happy while others are not?  Do the individuals whom are happy know something the rest of us do not?  I did some research and gathered a few ideas:

Let’s start with the definition of Happiness – “the state of being happy”.  Happiness is an internal feeling one can achieve by having control.  What I mean by this is that usually when one has ‘control’ over a situation i.e. choosing to walk away from a conflicting situation or  intervening  in a dispute as a third party one can say they might feel  empowered.  Empowerment therefore leads us to the feeling of ownership of our lives.  Because of this ownership or self-control of our lives, one is able to achieve happiness internally.   Below is a list of my personal opinions of the secret potion to achieving happiness. 

 ·       Practice gratitude – be grateful for the challenges you have overcome and the things you have.  There is always someone less fortunate than you.  If you find gratitude in the small things it should help one to appreciate the things life has to offer.

·         Do something good for someone else – sometimes assisting someone ‘just because’ can put a smile on your face as well as theirs.

·         Be patient – good things come to those that wait.  Don’t be hasty, but do everything in moderation.   This should help to relieve stress.

·         Supportive network – surround yourself with positive people who make you feel good.

·         Have fun – always take time out for yourself.  Do something adventurous, try a new food, visit an old friend, etc.

·         Be true to yourself – know and be comfortable with who you are.

Now that I have shared my list, what things have you done to achieve happiness?

To learn more about Happiness, check out Psychology Today, an online magazine where psychologists, academics, psychiatrists and authors contribute their thoughts and ideas about different topics relating to oneself.

 By Yvette Watson Jenkins

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

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Are You a Target of Workplace Bullying? The Dos and Don’ts

In my prior blog post,  UnderstanWORKPLACE-BULLYING3ding Workplace Bullying: Are you a member of the 28% of Americans who are not aware of workplace bullying?, I provided insight on how to identify bullying in the workplace and its effects on employees.  Through my research, I found many articles suggesting what one might do if this occurs to them or if they witness such an event.  Various articles suggested jotting down each instance as it occurs, evaluating the situation before speaking up, confronting the individual demonstrating bully behaviors, evaluating what you might be doing to provoke the co-worker, rallying witnesses, etc.  Expert or not, your gut instinct might provide insight on some of the dos and don’ts of the situation.



Do Not…

Reach out to someone in authority (Supervisor/Human Resource/Ombuds)

Confront the individual with reactive or aggressive behaviors

Speak with a friend or family member

Isolate yourself

Jot down any and all instances as they occur

Sweep the situation under the rug

Know your company’s policies on incivility

Stay uninformed

Create boundaries with the with the supervisor or coworker who is using these types of behavior

Place blame on yourself or accept the abusive behaviors


By following these suggestions, you are empowered to take action and give yourself tools to manage the stress. By reaching out to those in authority, you are allowing the situation to be handled by an individual trained to handle workplace conflict and bullying behaviors. You are also passing the confident message that your voice will be heard without allowing the situation to get the best of you.

When taking the situation to a third party source, have a detailed notebook that includes: notes of the instance(s) as they occurred, time/place of occurrence, who was there or might have overheard the bullying behavior, and what was said or done.  Providing this information at the minimum will help your supervisor, human resource personnel, or Ombuds to more efficiently research and examine your claims. For additional information on what to do, visit workplacebullying.org.

If you are a witness to workplace bullying, encourage the target to confide in a Supervisor, Human Resource personnel, or Ombuds. You can also offer to help write up the incident you witnessed, and be a listening ear.  Hopefully these tips will help put a stop to workplace bullying.  For additional information on bullying/being a bystander, listen to Dr. Maureen Scully’s talk on Workplace Witnesses: How Bystanders Can Become Essential Allies in Tense Situations.


By Yvette Watson Jenkins

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



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Understanding Workplace Bullying

Bullying-StopAre you a member of the 28% of Americans who are not aware of workplace bullying?

 Do you know the signs of workplace bullying? Are you aware of the effect workplace bullying has on its target the workplace, or those who witness? Your questions to workplace bullying are answered here!

Workplace bullying takes place between one person or a group of people who single out another to taunt, harass, make fun of etc.  in the workplace. The key to identifying workplace bullying is that it is persistent and enduring over a period of months. This type of behavior can cause the individuals witnessing such behaviors to feel uncomfortable.  According to workplacebullying.org 27% of Americans have suffered abusive conduct at work.  This is an alarming number.  To prevent this number from increasing and to raise awareness, bullyingstatistics.org provides some ways to identify bullying:

Workplace bullying can take many forms:

  • Shouting or swearing at an employee or otherwise verbally abusing him or her
  • One employee being singled out for unjustified criticism or blame
  • An employee being excluded from company activities or having his or her work or contributions purposefully ignored
  • Language or actions that embarrass or humiliate an employee
  • Practical jokes, especially if they occur repeatedly to the same person

There are also some things that are usually Not considered workplace bullying:

·       A manager who shouts at or criticizes all of his or her employees. While this is a sign of a bad manager and makes a workplace unpleasant, it is not bullying unless only one or a few individuals are being unjustifiably singled out.

·        A co-worker who is critical of everything, always takes credit for successes and passes blame for mistakes, and/or frequently makes hurtful comments or jokes about others. Unless these actions are directed at one individual, they represent poor social skills, but not bullying.

·        Negative comments or actions that are based on a person’s gender, ethnicity, religion, or other legally protected status. This is considered harassment and, unlike bullying, is illegal in the United States and gives the victim legal rights to stop the behavior.

Workplace bullying can have serious negative effects on employees such as:

  • Stress
  • Absenteeism and low productivity
  • Lowered self-esteem and depression
  • Anxiety
  • Digestive upsets
  • High blood pressure
  • Insomnia
  • Isolation from co-workers
  • Trouble with relationships due to stress over work
  • Post traumatic stress disorder

Workplace bullying is a very serious matter and should not be taken lightly. Pay attention to the signs and the effects and be sure to educate those who are unaware to keeps the 28% number from increasing.  

Stayed tuned for next week’s blog for tips on what to do if you witness or become a target of workplace bullying.

By Yvette Watson Jenkins

Graduate Student

University of Baltimore – Negotiation and Conflict Management Program

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