The Wrong Jam

There is a pot of jam that has been in my fridge a very long time.  It’s delicious, Bonne Maman.  It’s full flavoured, blue black, firm and smooth.  Blackcurrant jelly.  So why haven't I eaten it? The problem is the label.  The label says it’s Gelée Framboises. There is no way this jam is made from raspberries.  I know I should be able to ignore the label and simply enjoy the taste but instead I find I’m suspicious. I’m not really sure I can trust it. I’ve noticed the same [...]

How to talk to difficult people No 3

I wrote some blogs a few weeks back on how to talk to the difficult people in your household, especially those who find you even more difficult.  I hope that’s been going well, but remember it does take practice. Today I’m going to give some examples of things we say when we mean to be helpful but which never seem to make things better.  I’m going to offer some alternatives. Sentences that start: Why don’t you … If only you would … All I ask is that … ...  hardly [...]

Active Listening in Difficult Times

If you've volunteered to be a listener through the NHS Scheme or locally through a Mutual Aid group, this video should might help you collect some tips up your sleeve for the more challenging calls. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=006KdNQrKog              

How to live with difficult people during a lockdown No 2

Continuing in my series on how to talk to difficult people, especially those who insist you are the difficult one: In the previous post I talked about the benefits of asking the difficult person how they’re feeling and the importance of listening to the answer; how to check and demonstrate you’ve understood them, and if you haven’t, to listen again until they know they’ve really been heard. All this time, though, you haven’t had a look in. Now it’s your turn. You can’t wait to launch in with your much [...]

How to live with difficult people during a lockdown:

Loads of us are finding ourselves stuck indoors with difficult people who are (most unreasonably) accusing us of being the difficult one.  This could go on for a long time, so over the next week or two I'm going to blog on ways to turn arguments into constructive communication and the difficult person into someone you can manage and even enjoy to be locked down with for as long as this process takes. Step one: asking how someone is feeling and listening to the answer: 1     Before you get [...]

Let’s Dance

I did my accounts yesterday.  It's a job made not only bearable but actually enjoyable by the addition of Spotify. I shuffled through a playlist called Classic Covers. Halfway into November’s expenses I found myself listening to something I couldn't at first place - deeply familiar and at the same time completely new. It took me a moment to recognise a ponderous version of Let's Dance, a slow voice accompanied by an acoustic guitar, a hesitant harmonica between verses. The tempo was different and the rhythm was new too. I [...]

A divorce is for life, not just for Christmas

I read in last Saturday’s Guardian that thirteen people filed for Divorce on Christmas Day. Christmas Day can be tough for a lot of people, but that’s a hell of a way to spend the afternoon. It’s my theory that these divorce petitions had little to do with wanting to end a marriage. They are more about hitting out from a place of pain; hurting someone who’s hurt you. And pretty effective, if that’s what you’re trying to do. That need to wound someone who’s hurt you – it’s an [...]

No such thing as a bully

Bullies have been on my mind lately.  A few weeks ago we had the headline in the Guardian about a ‘bullying culture’ in universities.  I work in this sector, so the story was both interesting and familiar and prompted me to a direct marketing campaign – I can help employers with this kind of problem. Next I conducted a mediation where both parties were complaining about being bullied by the other.  This isn’t as unusual as it sounds.  My job (successful in this case) was to help each party hear [...]

Talking too loudly on the bus

I am on a trip down the west coast of the US, taking in a few large cities and some smaller places.  It’s easy coming to the States, apart from the money.  Or not so much the money, but the tick I’ve developed whereby I can’t help comparing the notes to Monopoly.  It’s boring for anyone in the vicinity and I’m dealing with it.  The language is by and large the same; the culture is familiar from films and TV; America’s  political news was the world’s news even before Trump [...]

Apology – pearl or pup?

Mediators make much of the value of apology in dispute resolution, but what does sorry mean and what should a mediator do with it? Often, it is part of the training - a whole session on apology and how important it is to acknowledge it and make sure the other party has heard it.  Indeed, it’s not usual for one or both parties to enter a mediation insisting on an apology, so when the inexperienced mediator hears that, they think – bingo – my job’s done! I’ve always been [...]

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