Gini Nelson\’s Engaging Conflicts

May 16, 2007

Web 2.0 –The Machine Is Us/ing Us — EngagingConflicts.Com

Filed under: Wikis and Podcasts and Blogs, Oh My! — Gini @ 3:40 am

Kansas State University cultural anthropology professor Michael Wesch created a popular video explaining concepts of “Web 2.0 in just under 5 minutes.” He placed it on YouTube in February 2007, where it was viewed 1.8 million times in six weeks. This is his final version, slightly revised and cleaned up:


April 23, 2007

LAST CROSSPOST — PLEASE GO TO WWW.ENGAGINGCONFLICTS.COM: Transformational Mediation, and Science, Ethics, and Spirit In Santa Fe, Sept. 24 – 28, 2007

Filed under: Ethics,Health, Conflict and Stress — Gini @ 10:59 am

intricate-wooden-carving-against-turquise-sky.jpg“Save the date” for my September 26 – 28, 2007 SES (Science, Ethics and Spirit) Conference in Santa Fe. There will also be a two-day pre-conference Transformational Mediation Training by the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation (ISCT), a national think-tank supported by a consortium of universities including the University of North Dakota, Hofstra Law School, Temple University, and James Madison University. Kristine Paranica, the Administrative Director and Fellow of the Institute, and Director of University of North Dakota’s Conflict Resolution Center, will then present two workshops at the SES conference: one on transformational mediation, and one on the use of transformative principles in conflict communication. Both the pre-conference Transformational Mediation Training and the SES Conference will take place at the Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, NM with the opportunity to interact with the Center’s diverse residential community of monks and lay people. I expect that both CEU and CLE credits will be available for both. I’ll post more details over the next couple of weeks, so please check over at the new website: Please note that I will no longer be cross posting here at the site — I will only be posting at the site. See you there!

April 9, 2007

We Still Need Psychology-They Study Different Things —

Filed under: Theory To Practice — Gini @ 5:03 am

istock_000001894194medium.jpg Psychology studies behavior, and neuroscience studies the nervous system. They overlap in studying what is commonly called “the mind.”

ScienceBlogs reinitiated a revised “Ask a ScienceBlogger” feature, wherein an expert will respond to readers’ questions. This week they responded to this question:

What’s the difference between psychology and neuroscience? Is psychology still relevant as we learn more about the brain and how it works?

They conclude that studying both psychology and neuroscience is the best way to understand it all: behavior, the nervous system, the mind.

Remember, please move your bookmark to

April 7, 2007

Do You Have A Question About An Ethical Issue In Mediation? —

Filed under: Ethics — Gini @ 5:25 am

 red-face dial phoneNot just for attorneys — do you have a question about an ethical issue pertaining to mediation? The ABA’s Section of Dispute Resolution has formed a committee to provide advisory responses to ethical questions. From the Section’s website:

Our Committee on Mediator Ethical Guidance is now ready to accept your inquiries and provide advisory responses to your requests. Section Chair John Bickerman is pleased to announce this important project for the Section and the field: “There is no greater way for consumers to have confidence in the services that mediators provide them then to know that mediators are following the ethical duties of their profession. As the leader in policy and practice in the field of dispute resolution, the DR Section is pleased to be able to provide guidance to mediators, the parties and lawyers who use their services.”

The current scope of the Committee is limited to the consideration of ethical issues pertaining to mediation. The Committee may accept an inquiry from an ABA member, an individual who is not an ABA member, an organization or may consider an issue on its own initiative. While it may draw on other sources of authority, such as opinions or other guidance issued by state ethics authorities, its focus will be on interpreting the American Bar Association Model Standards of Conduct for Mediators (2005) and applying them to the issue presented.

Here’s their intake form.

Here’s the link to the full ABA announcement.

Thanks to Geoff Sharp, a New Zealander attorney, mediator, and blogger for this!

Remember to move your bookmark to

April 6, 2007

“It’s Rough, Being the Easter Bunny” —

Filed under: Tips, Treats, and Tools — Gini @ 4:57 am

easter-bunny1.png This is not original to me, but it’s funny and timely, what with Easter so soon upon us. Thanks to Science Blogs for this post! Happy Spring!

Please remember to move your bookmark to the new site:

April 5, 2007

“Thinking Ethics” Games —

Filed under: Ethics,Tips, Treats, and Tools — Gini @ 7:54 am

istock_000001978461small.jpgI like the Thinking Ethics blog, and only wish it were easier to link to direct posts on the site-you can navigate to the categories and specific posts from within the site, but it seems to only give the home page http: address. Here’s about some ethical computer games, posted Monday, April 2:

Role playing

Here are three intresting ethical computer games:

You can help stop the crisis in Darfur as you role play in a refugee camp in

You can see what it is like to live in poverty and try to stay healthy in Haiti in the Unicef Voices of Youth game Ayiti: The Cost of Life

You can save and rebuild an island in the World Food Program’s Food Force.

Here’s a post about another source of ethical games and puzzles (from March 9) :

Games and puzzles

ERC, the Ethics Resource Center, a site devoted to organizational ethics in the US, has a selection of ethical games and puzzles (mostly crosswods). link here

And another (from Feb. 6):

Ethics Games

In case you want to practice – new computer game that is “sweeping the Federal Agencies…”, the US Office of Government Ethics proudly presents… here

Also the Institute of Business Ethics in the UK has some great teaching material – the business cases can be found here.

Thank you, Thinking Ethics!

Remember, please move your bookmark to






March 29, 2007

Engaging Conflicts Celebrates First Anniversary, and Asks Us To Ask: Are Librarians Totally Obsolete? (The Answer Is No) —

Filed under: Wikis and Podcasts and Blogs, Oh My! — Gini @ 9:15 am

intricate-wooden-carving-against-turquise-sky.jpgI’m late writing this, both in terms of the hour of the day (it’s after 10 a.m. local time) and from when I found this article (that was on February 26th, and it was itself published on January 30th). But I want to post today, because today is the one year anniversary of the first Engaging Conflicts posts! (Here is the link to the first post: Why Speak of Spirit and Conflict In the Same Breath?  Thank you, all, very much for your kind support and appreciation and help. I appreciate your kindness.

And I wanted to post about the article Are Librarians Totally Obsolete? because they aren’t, and we need to be reminded of all the reasons why. To me, it’s about literacy, and critical thought, and being able to use the wonderful resources available on the net and elsewhere (like in libraries) without being unduly distracted or lost because of everything else (overwhelmingly) available on the net. I love the net, and I want people to know how to use it well, and to know where else to go.

Here are the highlights of the 33 Reasons Why Libraries and Librarians are Still Extremely Important in Will Sherman’s superb article, and his Conclusion:

1. Not everything is available on the internet

2. Digital libraries are not the internet

3. The internet isn’t free

4. The internet complements libraries, but it doesn’t replace them

5. School Libraries and Librarians Improve Student Test Scores

6. Digitization Doesn’t Mean Destruction

7. In fact, digitization means survival

8. Digitization is going to take a while. A long while.

9. Libraries aren’t just books

10. Mobile devices aren’t the end of books, or libraries

11. The hype might really just be hype

12. Library attendance isn’t falling – it’s just more virtual now

13. Like businesses, digital libraries still need human staffing

14. We just can’t count on physical libraries disappearing

15. Google Book Search “don’t work”

16. Physical libraries can adapt to cultural change

17. Physical libraries are adapting to cultural change

18. Eliminating libraries would cut short an important process of cultural evolution

19. The internet isn’t DIY

20. Wisdom of crowds is untrustworthy, because of the tipping point

21. Librarians are the irreplaceable counterparts to web moderators

22. Unlike moderators, librarians must straddle the line between libraries and the internety.

23. The internet is a mess

24. The internet is subject to manipulation

25. Libraries’ collections employ a well-formulated system of citation

26. It can be hard to isolate concise information on the internet

27. Libraries can preserve the book experience

28. Libraries are stable while the web is transient

29. Libraries can be surprisingly helpful for news collections and archives

30. Not everyone has access to the internet

31. Not everyone can afford books

32. Libraries are a stopgap to anti-intellectualism

33. Old books are valuable

Society is not ready to abandon the library, and it probably won’t ever be. Libraries can adapt to social and technological changes, but they can’t be replaced. While libraries are distinct from the internet, librarians are the most suited professionals to guide scholars and citizens toward a better understanding of how to find valuable information online. Indeed, a lot of information is online. But a lot is still on paper. Instead of regarding libraries as obsolete, state and federal governments should increase funding for improved staffing and technology. Rather than lope blindly through the digital age, guided only by the corporate interests of web economics, society should foster a culture of guides and guideposts. Today, more than ever, libraries and librarians are extremely important for the preservation and improvement of our culture.

 Bravo, Will! 

Please remember to change your bookmark to the new site:

March 26, 2007

Free Workshop On Applications of Psychological Type in Conflict Communication Offered at New Mexico Mediation Association’s Winter Convocation —

Filed under: Business,Theory To Practice,Tips, Treats, and Tools — Gini @ 10:50 am

easel.jpgThe New Mexico Mediation Association’s March 31st Winter Convocation at the UNM Law School offers two tracks of workshops with four free workshops within each track. I’m presenting Communicating with Psychological Type in Mind During Conflict. It’s based on Carl Jung’s principles of psychological type as measured by the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®), probably the most widely used assessment instrument of its kind (millions are administered annually in the US, and more in other countries around the world). I’ll overview applications in mediation and benefits to mediators and other conflict specialists in knowing and applying the principles, including assisting clients getting through misunderstandings based on type differences, identifying blind spots in the problem- solving process based on type, use of type to bridge cultural and gender differences based on type similarities, and the mediator’s own use of type to identify the kind of practice she wants. I’m a qualified administrator of the MBTI®, and greatly appreciate it as a tool.

Use of this psychological type analysis is better studied in the law practice field than in the mediation practice context. The most notable law-related works are University of Florida Law Professor Don Peters’ article, Forever Jung: Psychological Type Theory, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and Learning Negotiation, 42 DRAKE LAW REVIEW 1 (1993); and Florida Coastal School of Law Professor Susan Swaim Daicoff’s book, Lawyer, Know Theyself: A Psychological Analysis of Personality Strengths and Weaknesses, American Psychological Association (2004). Direct works are slowly showing up in the mediation practice context, most notably in Sondra S. VanSant’s Wired For Conflict: The Role of Personality in Resolving Differences, Center for Application of Psychological Type, Inc. (2003).

The other workshops offered Saturday are:


Journey into the Heart of Conflict: A Creative Exercise for Your Inner Author (Using Both Sides of Your Brain) presented by Cynthia Olson, with Wallace Ford


Mediation is the journey into the complexity of conflict, searching collaboratively for the links which can tie the elements of resolution and transformation. The mediator’s own journey and experience contributes to this adventure – we are where we’ve been. Come write a book about your personal journey, take the next step on your quest!



Cultural Competency for Mediators, presented by Tonya Covington


As the country becomes more diverse and the majority population prepares to become the minority, cultural competency is imperative. This is particularly true in New Mexico, where mediators are increasingly called upon to mediate inter-cultural disputes. Learn tips on mediating for other cultures and across cultures.



Engaging Reluctant Parties, presented by Stéphane Trustorff Luchini


Prospective participants in a conflict intervention process may initially indicate reluctance or resistance to participate when approached by a mediator or other intervenor. Such parties may be engaged to participate, and when they do, will likely report satisfaction with the process as do parties who initially readily agree to participate. For mediation and restorative justice that uses mediation to be widely accepted, mediators may have to be able to effectively engage initially reluctant or resistant prospective participants. Stéphane Trustorff Luchini will present research findings and practice applications, and facilitate an illicitive inquiry of this topic with workshop participants.



Building Your Mediation Business, presented by Debra Oliver


Are you one of those mediators and/or facilitators who would like to transform your volunteer practice into a paying proposition or quit your day job? If so, you won’t want to miss Debra Oliver as she talks about the importance of marketing yourself, thinking and acting like an entrepreneur. Debra will also talk about the importance of finding good mentors and the value of mentoring others.



Ethics and Power in Mediation, presented byWallace Ford


New Mexico Mediation Association has a statement of ethics to which all members agree, as does the Association for Conflict Resolution. This statement points the mediator toward the moral and spiritual foundations upon which our conflict resolution is built. This workshop will explore key moral and spiritual themes embedded in the mediation experience, distinguishing the frames-of-reference we use and identifying the metaphors of well-being which guide our work. Particular attention will also be paid on how reason-giving establishes the power dynamic of conflict and ways the mediator narrates balance.




Latino Families and Domestic Violence, presented by Mariana Montejano (Community outreach trainer, New Mexico Coalition Against Domestic Violence)


Domestic violence is a crucial issue for any mediator working with family and divorce mediation to be able to screen for and recognize. Cultural context shapes everyone’s life and domestic violence occurs in most if not all cultural contexts. This session will discuss domestic violence in the context of Latinas’ lives – daily experience, reality (“way of living”), and psyche (“way of thinking”) to better understand domestic violence within the Latino community. Come explore how to work specifically with this cultural group.



Thank you, New Mexico Mediation Association for sponsoring this event, and thank you, to all presenters for their volunteer efforts in enriching the practice of mediation!

March 15, 2007

Governor Bill Richardson Signs New Mexico Mediation Procedures Act Protecting Confidentiality For Mediation Communications —

Filed under: Attorneys and Mediators - No Conflict Here! — Gini @ 4:46 am

red-face dial phone

Governor Bill Richardson yesterday signed the New Mexico Mediation Procedures Act, establishing confidentiality for certain mediation communications. Mediation is broadly defined to include any process that facilitates communication and negotiation between mediation parties, or promotes reconciliation between mediation parties. Mediator is also broadly defined to include any individual who holds herself out as a mediator and who conducts a mediation.

The confidentiality protection is limited, however, to mediation pursuant to mandatory court- or other governmental proceedings, or to voluntary mediation pursuant to a written contract, and includes exceptions for administrative facts (such as when and for how long the mediation occurred), for communications that relate to preventing or correcting wrong-doings, or concerning professional misconduct or malpractice relating to the mediation itself, among other exceptions.

Congratulations to the hard working and persistent New Mexico mediation community for their work with legislators and other governmental officials to effectuate this!

Click here to open a pdf copy:


Please remember to move your bookmark to the new site: www.

March 12, 2007

The Power of Forgiveness To Air As Part of The Fetzer Institute’s Campaign for Love and Forgiveness —

Filed under: Tips, Treats, and Tools — Gini @ 9:47 am

easel.jpgMy thanks to one of Engaging Conflict’s  readers for forwarding me the links for this.  The Fetzer Institute is sponsoring The Campaign for Love & Forgiveness, a campaign extending from late 2006 into 2008 that:

combines public television programming, community activities and events, and on-line discussions to encourage contemplation and conversation about how love and forgiveness can effect meaningful change in individuals and society.

As I like film, I’m particularly interested in the PBS programming, which comprises the broadcast of three documentaries: The Mystery of Love, The Power of Forgiveness, and Unforgivable?

The Power of Forgiveness includes interviews with Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hanh, and Nobel Peace Laureate Elie Wiesel. Here’s a description:

This film examines the power of forgiveness in alleviating anger and grief caused by the most dramatic transgressions imaginable and those that are more commonplace. Among its subjects the film will feature families of victims from the tragedy of 9/11 and forgiveness education in Northern Ireland, where unforgiveness has been a way of life for generations.

You can check the film’s special, pre-PBS release screening schedule to see if it is coming to a city near you.

The Campaign’s website also includes Practices, and Resources, of love and forgiveness.

March 9, 2007

Women in Science and International Women’s Day —

Filed under: Theory To Practice — Gini @ 7:40 am

dramatic womanBelated Happy International Women’s Day (it was yesterday)! Omni Brain at Science Blogs used the day to highlight the 4000 Years of Women in Science site, and the Women in Science site. Omni Brain’s post contrasted these women’s real achievements with:

Louann Brizendine, author of best-selling book The Female Brain, which Nature described as “riddled with scientific errors”. In an NPR Fresh Air radio broadcast, linguist Geoff Nunberg announced that Brizendine was the unanimous winner of the first annual Becky Award for “the single most ridiculous or misleading bit of linguistic nonsense that somebody manages to put over in the media.”

Mark Liberman of Language Log disproved her claim that women use 20,000 words per day, and speak faster, compared to men averaging 7,000. (Turns out she referenced a 1970s self-help guru who simply made it up.) But despite his efforts and the bestowing of the 2006 Becky Award, the stereotyped fictitious claims are still being propagated: Elle Magazine wrote about it in their February issue.

EngagingConflicts previously posted about Brizendine’s book here.

Note: Please change your bookmarks to the new site:

March 7, 2007

Colorado Ethics Committee Concludes Collaborative Law Per Se Unethical, Cooperative Law Not —

Filed under: Ethics — Gini @ 6:29 am

blue record disk As previously posted in EngagingConflicts here, there is a significant ethical critique of Collaborative Law, and a growing movement for the practice of Cooperative Law. The main issue is Collaborative Law’s requirement of mandatory attorney disqualification if the process is unsuccessful. Cooperative Law is defined in the Colorado Ethics Committee’s Opinion as identical to Collaborative Law, but without the mandatory attorney disqualification agreement.

This is the Conclusion from Ethics Opinion 115: Ethical Considerations in the Collaborative and Cooperative Law Contexts (Adopted February 24, 2006)(note: date is probably a typo, as this Opinion has just been released):

The Colorado Rules of Professional Conduct prohibit a lawyer from participating in Collaborative Law so long as a contractual obligation exists between the lawyer and the opposing party whereby the lawyer agrees to terminate the representation of the client. Absent such a contractual obligation, a lawyer may participate in the process referred to as Cooperative Law provided that the lawyer complies with all of the Rules of Professional Conduct.

The Opinion lays out the Committee’s analysis, and also provides an extensive discussion of the “myriad potential ethical pitfalls” in a Cooperative Law practice, which include provisions relating to terminating the attorney-client relationship; communications with the client (concerning the applicable range of alternative courses of action in the client’s case); considerations of whether the client is under a disability (particularly if there is a history of domestic abuse in the family law context); and Cooperative Law organizations (as possibly impermissible referral services). These issues are also potentially relevant in jurisdictions where a Collaborative Law practice is not per se unethical.

Colorado does not have a mandatory bar association, and the Committee’s opinion is not per se binding on attorneys. However, it is a powerful statement about the practice of Collaborative (and Cooperative) Law in Colorado, and of the potential issues everywhere.

This is how the Colorado Ethics Committee describes itself (from its website):

The Colorado Bar Association Ethics Committee is a standing committee of the Colorado Bar Association, staffed by approximately 90 Colorado attorneys, existing for the purpose of giving ethics advice to Colorado attorneys. The Committee will answer written requests for ethics advice subject to certain exceptions such as those listed below. The Committee will issue Formal Ethics Opinions concerning topics of general interest. . . .

The Ethics Committee is NOT associated with the Colorado Supreme Court, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, the Attorney Regulation Committee, or the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel. Committee Opinions, whether informal written opinions or published formal Ethics Opinions, are issued for advisory purposes only and are not in any way binding on the Colorado Supreme Court, the Presiding Disciplinary Judge, the Attorney Regulation Committee, Attorney Regulation Counsel, or the Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel and do not provide protection against disciplinary actions.

The opinion is not yet posted at its website. If you would like a copy, please send an email to, with “Opinion” in the subject line, and I’ll send back a copy.

Be sure to bookmark the new location of this blog:

March 6, 2007

Collaborative Law Established, Cooperative Law Now Growing —

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 6:08 am

blue record diskTHE GROWING TREND OF COLLABORATIVE LAW: “Not for all, but a growing trend, and here to stay.”

So I said when I published my first article on collaborative law in the Los Alamos Monitor in July 2002. Indeed, it has continued to grow, and, from it, Cooperative Law, both topics in Engaging Conflicts, with leading Guest Bloggers starting soon. I posted earlier about John Lande’s work in Cooperative Law — John is one of the upcoming Guest Bloggers — but some people would like a basic introduction to Collaborative Law concepts as part of learning more about Cooperative Law. Thus, I’m republishing my article.

Collaborative Law is a form of lawyering that is, to some degree, a hybrid of an unbundled practice approach that uses a mediative negotiation style. It seeks to integrate non-adversarial and cooperative strategies, and relies heavily on the empowerment of the clients as informed decision-makers.

Lawyers who commit to being collaborative lawyers agree that they will never go to court in a particular case if settlement negotiations fail; and they meet in four-way meetings in which the clients are empowered to play a major role.

The clients themselves may conduct the settlement negotiations, with their lawyers there to assure there is also legal protection. Thus, collaborative family practice, where it is established, can become the third primary dispute resolution option for families in divorce and/or separation, together with mediation and litigation.

Like mediation, it isn’t the best choice for everyone, but, also like mediation, it can be well worth considering if some or all of the following are true for both parties:

a. You want a civilized, respectful resolution of the issues.

b. You would like to keep open the possibility of friendship with your partner down the road.

c. You and your partner will be co-parenting children together and you want the best co-parenting relationship possible.

d. You want to protect your children from the harm associated with litigated dispute-resolution between parents.

e. You and your partner have a circle of friends and extended family in common that you both want to remain connected to.

f. You have ethical or spiritual beliefs that place high value on taking personal responsibility for handling conflicts with integrity.

g. You value privacy in your personal affairs and do not want details of your family restructuring to be available in the public court record.

h. You value control and autonomous decisionmaking and do not want to hand over decisions about restructuring your financial and/or child-rearing arrangements to a stranger (i.e., a judge).

i. You recognize the restricted range of outcomes and “rough justice” generally available in the public court system, and want a more creative and individualized range of choices available to you and your spouse or partner for resolving your issues.

j. You place as much or more value on the relationships that will exist in your restructured family situation as you place on obtaining the maximum possible amount of money for yourself.

k. You understand that conflict resolution with integrity involves achieving not only your own goals but finding a way to achieve the reasonable goals of the other person.

Pauline H. Teschler, Esq., Collaborative Law FAQs, [from a site available in 2002, but no longer available. Note: Ms. Teschler, a pioneer in speaking, writing and training in this area, published Collaborative Law, in 2001, and, in 2006, Collaborative Divorce, with Peggy Thompson].

It is different from mediation, in that the mediator is neutral, and cannot advise one side or advocate for one side over the other. While parties in mediation may have attorneys, the attorneys are seldom at the mediation sessions. In a collaborative law process, each party has their own attorney, at their side, to advise them and advocate for them, if necessary, throughout.

Not for all, but a growing trend, and here to stay.

Note: please move your bookmarks to the new site:

March 1, 2007

World Peace Conference In Santa Fe —

Filed under: Tips, Treats, and Tools — Gini @ 8:14 am

easel.jpgThis from a friend here in Santa Fe:

Dear Friends of Peace,
You are cordially invited to attend the Building a Culture of Peace global conference on May 16-17 2007 in Santa Fe, New Mexico.  The conference will be held at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Santa Fe.  Registration and further information is at
This working conference will call together 500 local, national and global leaders for inquiry and strategic thinking on the question, “What would it take to transform the current culture of violence in our societies to a true culture of peace?”

Prominent peace leaders who will address us in plenary session are Arun Gandhi, and Nobel Peace Laureates Rigoberta Menchu Tum and Jody Williams, with H.H. the Dalai Lama joining the conference by video.  The rest of our time will be structured around five Peace Councils:
– Our Youth, Our Promise:
– Demilitarization and a Peace Economy
– Knowing the Others as Ourselves
– The Living Spirit of Peace
– The Politics of Peace

Using an “Open Space” technology that allows for all participants to consider the issues they are passionate about, each Council will spend two days exploring the leading-edge questions related to their Council and our overall topic.  They will be encouraged to identify best practices, share information and resources, build alliances and partnerships and explore (and commit to) strategic action steps.

The output from the conference – the plenary talks, data from the national leaders working with each Council and interviews – will be collected and made available online, as a next step towards a larger process of further galvanizing the global culture of peace movement.

Please join us, by registering at, where you can also find more details on the Councils and the conference theme. Register early as places are limited and the registration price of $45 goes to $65 on April 1.   We have a group rate of 20% off, for prepaid registrations of 5 people or more – contact <> for details.

If you are involved in an organization promoting peace, consider also promoting your work and ideas by taking a table ($25) at the Peace Fair, which will take place during the conference.

Please pass this email along to all your friends, colleagues and networks, so that those who choose peace as the path for our times will know about this rich and rare opportunity.

February 23, 2007

Transformative Learning, Adult Development, and Adult Complexity Of Mind, Part Five —

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 4:10 am

sheep looking into camera
This post continues the series on adult development and complexity of mind (here are the links for Parts One, Two, Three), and Four), by exploring Carl Jung’s concepts of the midlife development of psychological type. The discussion in Parts Four and Five comes originally from articles by Catherine Fitzgerald, and Gae Walters, in Executive Coaching: Practices & Perspectives, Catherine Fitzgerald, Jennifer Garvey Berger, eds., Davies-Black Publishing, an imprint of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2002, and has been expanded since my initial Los Alamos Monitor column publication.


I overviewed Carl Jung’s psychological type concepts in Part Four of this series. Jung also concluded that the natural preferences that people develop and practice up through the first half of their lives are challenged at midlife (the late thirties and beyond). At that time, the “less developed, less refined, and more unconscious” functions intrude, demanding much more attention.

The person, Jung believed, wants to be more fully developed and may have a need (whether conscious or not) to pursue a search for personal meaning that includes exploring and developing less-used aspects of her personality. An Intuitive type (whose perception relies on insights, patterns and hunches) may be drawn at times to “staying present moment-to-moment in the real world, rather than focusing on associations and the future.” A Feeling type (who makes decisions based on subjective and personal ways of deciding) may separate from others and assert his own interests and needs even when in conflict with others he cares about.

These psychological and emotional demands of midlife often conflict with an individual’s long-standing family and work patterns based on the preferred dimensions which developed through the first half of life. Fitzgerald, in her book Executive Coaching, sees three stages of midlife for executives, which presumably could hold true for any of us: (1) getting inklings of the new reactions and desires (which surprise and disorient); (2) going underground (working on the new reactions and desires privately); and (3) bringing the new, larger self out into the world.

Many of us working in conflict professions see individuals who are undergoing personal, mid-life change that involves them in conflict with others. Jung’s theory tieing such changes to type development can be a useful tool for conflict specialists.

Please go to the new location:

Note: The books mentioned in this post are available at your local libraries and bookstores, of course, but you can also buy them online through my link in the right-hand sidebar at the new location to help support my blogging (and I will appreciate it, if you do!)

February 22, 2007

Transformative Learning, Adult Development, and Adult Complexity Of Mind, Part Four —

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 4:54 am

sheep looking into camera

This post continues the series on adult development and complexity of mind (here are the links for Parts One, Two, and Three), by exploring Carl Jungs concepts of psychological type. Part Five of the series will explore Jung’s concept of the differences between the first and second halves of life. This discussion comes originally from articles by Catherine Fitzgerald, and Gae Walters, in Executive Coaching: Practices & Perspectives, Catherine Fitzgerald, Jennifer Garvey Berger, eds., Davies-Black Publishing, an imprint of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2002, and has been expanded since my initial Los Alamos Monitor column publication.

Jungs theory of psychological type describes distinct personality characteristics that can help us understand common differences (and similarities) among people. Jung identified three dimensions of individual personality differences, each with two polar opposites: Extraversion-Introversion, SensingIntuition, and ThinkingFeeling. Jung’s work was later expanded into a tool often used in business and coaching settings to identify these preferences, the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator©, which added a fourth dimension, JudgingPerceiving. The MBTI© is probably the most widely used assessment instrument of its kind, with millions administered annually in the US, and more in other countries around the world. I personally am so persuaded of the value of its “theory to practice” applications that I became a qualified administrator of the instrument, and use it in my practice.

Jung felt that every person develops natural inclinations and preferences among these dimensions. Practitioners commonly use the analogy of “handedness” – whether you are born right-handed or left-handed. Regardless of your handedness, you can and do use both hands, and, similarly, whether you are born with a preference for Thinking or Feeling, for example, you can and do use both. However, as with your handedness, you will generally be more inclined to use the preference you were born with, and be more comfortable using it, and more skillful.

The terms have meanings quite different from how they are stereotypically understood. For example, the Extraversion-Introversion dimension is not about whether a person is loud at parties, or quiet and withdrawn. Rather, it describes how people derive their energy from the world. Extraverts draw their energy from action and interaction with the external world. They work best with people around them as they talk their way through to new ideas and decisions. Introverts draw their energy from reflection and contemplation within the internal world of thoughts and ideas. Ideas and clarity develop most readily when the Introvert is being quietly contemplative.”

The Sensing-Intuition dimension is how we take in information about the world, either with a preference for information immediately perceived by our senses, and on what “is,” or with a preference for drawing inferences from more or other, not immediately obvious sources, and on what “could be.”

The Thinking-Feeling dimension is how we evaluate what is most important in coming to decisions, either with a preference for rational, objective, universally applicable criteria, or with a preference for subjective applications taking into account the impact of decisions on individuals and social harmony. Note: Feeling, as used here, must not be confused with “emotions.”

The Judging–Perceiving dimension refers to an individual’s need for structure and closure. I sometimes describe it this way: a person with a Judging preference wants to solve the puzzle, while a person with a Perceiving preference wants to play with the puzzle.

Further work by psychological researchers confirms validity of these four dimensions, calling them factors of personality, and has identified a fifth factor, Neuroticism, which is not assessed by the instrument.

The MBTI© produces an assessment of personality based on the specific preferences among the four dimensions, e.g., identifying a person as an ENFP (Extraversion/Intuition/Feeling/Perceiving) personality type. (Note: N is used for Intuition, because I is already used for Introversion). Each of the sixteen types of this typology understands and acts in the world differently from another.

Theory to practice applications include Communicating With Type In Mind During Conflict, the subject and title of a workshop I’ll be presenting at the New Mexico Mediation Association’s Winter Convocation in Albuquerque, New Mexico on March 31, 2007. The program will overview applications in mediation and benefits to mediators and other conflict specialists in knowing and applying the principles. Applications include assisting clients in getting through misunderstandings based on type differences, identifying blind spots in the problem-solving process based on type, use of type to bridge cultural and gender differences based on type similarities, and the mediator’s own use of type to identify the kind of practice she wants.

Remember to go to the new site –

Note: The books mentioned in this post are available at your local libraries and bookstores, of course, but you can also buy them online through my link in the right-hand sidebar at the new location (and I will appreciate it, if you do!)

February 21, 2007

Transformative Learning, Adult Development, and Adult Complexity Of Mind, Part Three —

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 4:04 am

sheep looking into cameraThis post continues the series on adult development and adult complexity of mind, a relatively new field of study and application about how human thinking capacities evolve sequentially and how these theories can be practically applied in such fields as adult learning, professional development, and leadership development, all of which are relevant for attorneys, mediators and others working in conflict management and resolution. Part One, which overviewed transformational learning, as distinguished from informational learning, and Part Two, which introduced psychological theorist Robert Kegan’s theory of adult development of mind, are found here and here.

Most adults are at Kegan’s Third Order in his five staged orders of mind. They may live most or all of their lives in it. They perhaps strive to live good lives as defined by the norms and standards of their societal institutions, such as family, government, profession. These norms and standards have been internalized — they are “subjects,” that cannot easily be questioned. Adults at the Third Order are living something greater than narrow, self-centered interests — they can consider the impact of their actions on others, and choose, e.g., personal discomfort or risk in order to do what is right for their family. They have difficulty, however, when there are conflicts between important ideologies, institutions or people — they feel torn in two and have difficulty making decisions.

However, according to Kegan, this level of adult development of mind does not give the adult what contemporary life so often demands — contemporary life often requires us to mediate between many conflicting important ideologies, institutions and key people. Therefore, according to Kegan, most adults are “in over their heads,” much of the time.

At the Fourth Order, adults have a sense of self that is independent of their family, government, profession. The norms and standards of those institutions can be examined, questioned — they have become “objects.” These adults are not torn apart by conflicting ideologies, institutions or people, because they have created their own norms and standards. They are self-guided, self-motivated, and self-evaluative. They also have empathy and consider other peoples’ needs and wishes when they make decisions.

According to Kegan, less than half of all adults are at the Fourth Order, even though this is the modern image of what adults are supposed to be like.

The Fifth Order never appears before midlife, and then, only rarely. Adults at this Order have the greatest complexity of mind. They understand and deal better with paradox, consider the broadest ranges of opinions and governing systems, and see similarities where previously they saw differences.

It is important to note that these theories do not say that any one order is better than another. Application of the theories may help us in our lives and in our careers look at the fit between the complexity of mind of a person and his or her role or environment, in order to better support the person in growth and/or constructive accommodation to the required tasks. If an adult at the Third Order is asked to do tasks better suited to someone at the Fourth Order, and vice versa, there will be internal and possibly institutional conflict.

In the work context, for example, an adult being asked to perform more complex tasks, such as may happen in moving from a well-defined job to one with a more ambiguous structure, may feel overwhelmed and inadequate this adult must not only be able to meet demands, but also identify and choose among conflicting demands. An adult asked to perform less complex tasks, such as may happen when the adult has outgrown a role or part of the organization, may feel underutilized and under-valued.

There are many analogous applications in our various practices as we engage conflicts. Kegan has also published an excellent book applying the principles to communication techniques that will best support transformation in individuals, titled How the Way We Talk Can Change the Way We Work (co-authored with Lisa Laskow).

Remember to go to the new site —

Note: The books in this post are available at your local libraries and bookstores, of course, but you can also buy them online through my link in the right-hand sidebar at the new location.

February 20, 2007

Transformative Learning, Adult Development, and Adult Complexity Of Mind, Part Two —

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 4:38 am

sheep looking into cameraThis post continues the series on adult development and adult complexity of mind, a relatively new field of study and application about how human thinking capacities evolve sequentially and how these theories can be practically applied in such fields as adult learning, professional development, and leadership development, all of which are relevant for attorneys, mediators and others working in conflict management and resolution. Part One is found here.


In Part One of this series on adult development and complexity of mind, I talked about transformational learning, defined as learning that leads to greater complexity of mind, that is, broader perspective taking. It is different from informational learning, which more simply adds knowledge to the mind, and does not itself develop the complexity of the mind. Understanding these complex and important ideas may help all of us think and act with the increased complexity necessary for sustained success in today’s world. Parts Two and Three will explore the basis of this theory in constructive-developmental psychology. Parts Four and Five will introduce Carl Jungs theoretical framework of mid-life as a natural epoch in human development.

Children and adults see vastly different worlds. To a small child, the view from an airplane is of miniature people and houses and cars, while an adult knows that they are full-sized objects that only look small from the perspective of the plane’s height. As the child grows and matures, she, too, comes to understand that an object remains the same size, whether it is seen close up or from afar, even though it looks bigger or smaller. This is an example of cognitive development. Just as children’s brains develop in complexity of thought, so, too, can an adult’s brain, according to constructive-developmental psychology theorist Robert Kegan.

Catherine Fitzgerald, in Executive Coaching discusses his theories as they apply to executive coaching, but they are applicable to many social and personal situations, including those with conflict. For more information, see Fitzgerald, Catherine and Garvey Berger, Jennifer, Leadership and Complexity of Mind: The Role of Executive Coaching, in Executive Coaching: Practices & Perspectives, Catherine Fitzgerald, Jennifer Garvey Berger, eds., Davies-Black Publishing, an imprint of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2002.

How do people make meaning of the world around them? Kegan discusses one particular aspect of transformational learning, the movement of something from Subject to Object. At one time, people believed that the world was flat, and that assumption (that the world was flat) was not questioned. An unquestioned assumption is as if it is part of the person, a subject.” It is not an object,” i.e., something outside of oneself that can be examined, considered, or evaluated from some different perspective.

When an assumption is a subject,” it both shapes how the world is understood, and it cannot be questioned. If the world is flat, you don’t sail too far towards the edge of the world, and you may attack people who say it is not flat. However, if you understand that the flatness of the world is an assumption, not a fact, you might consider what others say about it, and even sail towards the edge of the world to check it out.

To Kegan, the more assumptions about the world that are made Object instead of Subject, the more complex the mind, and the greater the ability of a person to see, reflect on, be responsible for, and shape her own world.

Fitzgerald gives these as examples of insights that involve a Subject-Object shift:

  • I was always the responsible one in my family and I guess I ended up controlling things. I’ve been talking about empowering staff, but I haven’t really been willing to give up control.

  • I was taught that being loyal to my boss and my company came first, but now I see that doing the right thing can be much more important than loyalty.


Id. at 30-31. These movements are very challenging, and insights learned often seem to disappear shortly after being gained. Kegan suggests these movements involve a psychological muscle that must be built and strengthened over time. These movements are the process of cognitive development.

The existence of five qualitatively different orders of mind” is another key aspect of Kegan’s constructive-developmental theory. Each is a different way of constructing reality (“seeing” the world), ranging from less to more complex. These are stages along the developmental journey. Each order preserves the complexity learned at the earlier orders.

According to Kegan, the First Order is made up almost totally of young children, and involves magical thinking. The Second Order is made up of older children and adolescents, and adults who still think like them. These adults are self-centered and see people as aids or obstacles to what they want. If they don’t break rules, it’s because they are afraid of being caught.

Tomorrow, I’ll discuss the other Orders of Mind.

Remember to go to the new site,


February 9, 2007

Transformative Learning, Adult Development, and Adult Complexity Of Mind, Part One —

Filed under: Uncategorized — Gini @ 8:18 am

sheep looking into cameraThis post marks the beginning of a series on adult development and adult complexity of mind, a relatively new field of study and application about how human thinking capacities evolve sequentially and how these theories can be practically applied in such fields as adult learning, professional development, and leadership development, all of which are relevant for attorneys, mediators and others working in conflict management and resolution. I previously published the series as part of a column I wrote in 2002 and 2003 for the print newspaper, the Los Alamos Monitor. The series will overview some of the leading theories and tools used in executive and leadership coaching: constructive-developmental psychology, Carl Jung’s theory framework of mid-life as a natural epoch in human development, and the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator© (MBTI©).

“Complexity of mind” is defined as broader perspective taking. The ability to take and keep broader, additional perspectives in mind is crucial to developing competencies “such as systemic thinking and the ability to develop collaboration among diverse constituents, create learning organizations, and question and evaluate existing systems and models in order to innovate and make long-range strategic decisions.” Goodman, Robert G., “The Use of Adult Developmental Theory as a Basis for Transformative Change,” Executive Coaching: Practices & Perspectives, [edited by] Catherine Fitzgerald, Jennifer Garvey Berger, Jennifer, eds., Davies-Black Publishing, an imprint of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2002.

Does it matter how broad a perspective we take? If we are responsible for solving problems, it does. For example, we are advised to look at “performance improvement” when we are evaluating performance problems in an organization. It’s a form of training that focuses on solving problems, instead of on building specific skills, the focus of traditional training. In addition to skill training, performance improvement considers whether the organization structure supports the work flow, and whether the environmental work conditions are appropriate. According to one source:
[c]lose to 80% of performance barriers are environment-related. Developing job skills will not improve these organizational issues:

  • Employee lacks necessary equipment
  • Job description does not match the job
  • Employee has wrong qualifications for the job
  • No incentives to improve
  • Employees are inadequately supervised
  • Job progress is not monitored for immediate feedback
  • Policies are out of step with expectations
  • Manager has a hidden agenda
  • Job procedures are out of date and do not support the process
  • Design of the organization thwarts productivity
  • Staff is not authorized to make related decisions
  • Lack of organizational leadership

Guide on the Side – A Model for Training and Improving Performance,” Marie Wallace, published at, one of the leading legal and technology resources on the internet.

Just as developing job skills will not help correct those organizational issues, so, too, will failure to evaluate and address a more subtle issue that may be present: failing to distinguish between informational learning and transformational learning. Informational learning has been defined as “new knowledge added to the current form of one’s mind,” and transformational learning, as “learning that changes the very form of one’s mind, making it more spacious, more complex, and more able to deal with multiple demands and with uncertainty.” Fitzgerald, Catherine and Garvey Berger, Jennifer, “Leadership and Complexity of Mind: The Role of Executive Coaching,” Executive Coaching: Practices & Perspectives, [edited by] Catherine Fitzgerald, Jennifer Garvey Berger, Jennifer, eds., Davies-Black Publishing, an imprint of Consulting Psychologists Press, Inc., 2002. In the next segment of the series, I’ll discuss this theory of constructive-developmental psychology.

February 5, 2007

Ethical Standards for Elder Mediation Symposium Registration Now Open —

Filed under: Ethics — Gini @ 11:40 am

Kristine Paranica of the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation (ISCT) just posted this announcement:
eye close up

You are invited to the First National Symposium on Ethical Standards for Elder Mediation, April 19-20, 2007 at Temple University’s James E. Beasley School of Law, Philadelphia, PA. Find all the details at

This exciting 2-day event will feature Harry “Rick” Moody, Nancy Neveloff Dubler, Robert Baruch Bush and distinguished panelists from the fields of mediation, elder law, bioethics, geriatric ethics, geriatric medicine and social work. The Symposium will tackle critical issues such as the impact of societal aging biases on the mediation process, capacity issues, and a mediator’s responsibility when the outcome of a mediation violates ethical and/or legal norms.

At this time, registration may be completed by mail and by check. On-line registration and credit card payment is available on our website at

Please note that space is limited to the first 100 registrants and that the super early bird fee of $325 that includes meals and the special Thursday evening dinner event is only good until February 15. Then regular and late fees apply. We expect to fill the Symposium to capacity, so please register early. You will receive confirmation of your admittance into the Symposium upon receipt of your registration and payment.

Please direct your questions to Kathryn Mariani at or (610) 277-8909.

We hope to see you this spring!

Kristine, thank you, and thanks to ISTC for sponsoring such programs!

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