Mindfulness in the Digital Age

In my October Newsletter I wrote about the concept of mindfulness, that moment-by-moment awareness of your surroundings, thoughts, and feelings. A sense of presence and acceptance, which can help a mediator facilitate between parties whose perceptions are blocked by the difficulties of conflict.

Once a conflict takes root it might indeed be necessary to call in a third party to provide a new perspective – but before that happens, our own mindfulness practices can reduce the chances that we will get caught up in an escalating torrent of emotions and reactions in the first place.

After reading this article about the popularity of mindfulness in the tech industry, however, I was reminded that we are living in a world which constantly discourages this positive behavior. Mindfulness is often referred to as the practice of being present: living openly in the moment without projecting yourself constantly into the future, the past, or now in the case of globalization, to the other side of the world. In the digital age we are encouraged to respond constantly to stimuli that remove us from our immediate surroundings. This post is about pausing for a moment to recognize the challenges to mindfulness in our digital lives, and using that awareness to make better choices for mindfulness practice and conflict management.


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Building Trust: Listening With No Agenda

In May, Adam Bryant interviewed Joel Peterson of JetBlue for the Corner Office column in the New York Times. Peterson stated that one of the main attributes that propelled him to top leadership positions at a young age was the ability to cultivate the trust of those around him. When Bryant asked him to describe that process, Peterson explained that those trusting relationships come as a “byproduct” of his habit of good listening.

“I’m a really good listener. It’s not a technique — I’m really interested in what people have to say… If you’re authentic, open, you call things as they are, you really are direct and you listen well, that develops trust.”

‘Good listening skills’ is a trope that enters most of our lives in our very first years of school and, as Peterson points out, an overly technical approach to this topic can give it a shallow cliché feel. But Peterson is also testifying to the fact that the art of listening is truly one of the foundational elements of building and maintaining relationships, as well as exercising leadership. Every day we make choices about how we embody this essential activity, and unquestionably those decisions have an impact on our personal and professional lives. In this blog post I want to briefly explore one aspect of listening that Peterson highlights his interview: “listening without an agenda.” [Read more…]

Nonviolent Communication: a Model, a Strategy, a Lifestyle

In a number of past posts and newsletters I’ve referred to “nonviolent communication” as an important and effective strategy for dealing with difficult conflict scenarios, or for working towards conflict transformation. Much more than just an abstract notion, nonviolent communication is a core concept couched in a strong theoretical base. Not only is it a powerful tool in mediation or formal conflict resolution, it is a holistic process and a lens through which an individual can come to see all relations and communication. At its most potent level, nonviolent communication can ultimately embody a spiritual or worldview. I wanted to take a post to focus on this extraordinary technique, and perhaps make it more accessible for readers in their daily lives.

What is Nonviolent Communication?

What is widely recognized today as the core theory of nonviolent communication (NVC) was spearheaded by the psychologist and PhD. Marshall Rosenberg in the 1960s.  With questions about communication and violence originating from childhood run-ins with anti-Semitism and violent race relations in Detroit, Rosenberg began to develop his model during his activities in the civil rights movement. He sought to better understand how entrenched patterns of communication kept humans from expressing their needs to one another without violent escalation, and how he and others could develop the ability to surpass those patterns.

The idea of NVC is founded on some basic assumptions about human beings and their mutual interactions. [Read more…]

Inquiry and Reflective Listening: Lessons for Leaders

We’ve been writing about the importance of developing mediator qualities in today’s leaders. In earlier editions of this newsletter we’ve discussed leadership presence (April), integral vision and systems thinking (March), and leadership style (February). The 21st century leader must step back from the intense heat of the conflict and look out over it, like a climber who summits a peak. Today’s article discusses inquiry and it’s partner reflective listening.
Inquiry: Asking Curious Questions

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