By Michele Straube
It’s class prep time in academia, and I’ve been looking through my “new topics” collection to update my Conflict Management lesson plans. It quickly became apparent that there are a few blogs and listservs that are my “go-to” reading on communication, negotiation and conflict management skills, and collaborative process best practices. I’ll share the top ones with you (in alphabetical order).
Consensus Building Institute blog: They don’t post entries often, but when they do, it’s always a great case study of effective collaborative problem-solving. The examples range from US issues (e.g., seven benchmarks to reach consensus on a groundwater sustainability agency) to international challenges (e.g., natural resources on indigenous lands and the growing transparency movement). Publishing equally infrequently, collaboration guru Larry Susskind shares his wisdom in blog posts about good public process and effective negotiation.
Tammy Lenski blog: Tammy Lenski is a mediator whose blog entries are clear, to the point, and filled with examples of how to put the conflict management principles into action. Past blog entries are organized by topic on her website: keeping your balance, dealing with difficult behaviors, getting conflict unstuck, conflict resolution skills. And many of them are available in audio as well.
National Coalition for Deliberation & Dialogue (NCDD): An active listserv in which one member poses a question and others send thoughtful responses. I am continually amazed at how helpful and forthcoming this group is with sharing resources. What’s been most helpful to me is lists and descriptions of different dialogue processes, and the range of process approaches to specific public policy issues. The membership is geek-heavy, so there is also a lot of good information about using technology to promote dialogue and public participation.
The Negotiation Insider, published by the Harvard Project on Negotiation: Daily short articles about negotiation strategies that work (e.g., how to deal with threats, is your negotiation style holding you back?), more detailed reports on specific topics (e.g., dealing with difficult behaviors), and a Sunday Minute email that shares an effective strategy in a few short paragraphs (usually on a topic that just came up in my previous week as a student or stakeholder question).
The Public Leadership blog, published by the University of North Carolina School of Government: Focuses more on leadership development than conflict management, this blog often has thought-provoking entries that help me approach some of my project challenges from a broader perspective. Recent entries that have particularly intrigued me include one on bias (what? me biased?) and one on the role of local government leaders as conveners (wicked problems: what can leaders do?).
Turning Conflict Into Consensus, published by Alternative Resolutions: Ellen Kandell is a mediator who presents research and practical solutions to conflict dilemmas in easy-to-read articles. Some recent posts focused on using team conflict as the basis for effective leadership (e.g., nurture the positive, contain the negative) and developing our emotional intelligence to prevent conflict.
And, of course, our own EDR Blog, focusing more specifically on conflict management around environmental and natural resource issues. But you’re already here! If you haven’t done so yet, sign up to get email notices of our bi-weekly posts.
I’d love to hear what conflict management-related blogs you would add to the list (email me). I have a lot more to learn …
Michele Straube is Director of the Environmental Dispute Resolution (EDR) Program at the Wallace Stegner Center, S.J. Quinney College of Law, University of Utah; she teaches two courses in alternating years: Conflict Management and Environmental Conflict Resolution.