Want to enhance your career success in Dispute Resolution and Conflict Management? Try Change Management!

Original Blog Post by SMU DRCM Dr. Robert Barner

If you are in the DR program you already have a very credible knowledge base for helping others work through conflict. The only thing you lack is a structured set of tools for managing change.

So you are part way through the DR certificate or Master’s program and you are now starting to think about how you intend to apply your certificate or degree to your career. Are you planning to set up your own mediation or conflict management practice? Considering looking for a corporate job in HR, training, or a related field?

If you want to increase your chances for career success, perhaps it is time to consider broadening your tool belt a bit, starting by learning some skills in organizational change management. Let me explain.

For 30+ years I worked as a corporate executive in the HR sub-fields of organizational and leadership development. One of my big responsibilities in each of these positions was to help organizations think through the best way to manage change. In each of these situations another leader held the responsibility of being the project manager. These were the people who built the project plan, established milestones and cost estimates, and negotiated with vendors. But quite often these companies realized that change = conflict. Employees resist change when those changes are not clearly communicated, when there is little opportunity for employee input, and when there is no opportunity to coach leaders in how to effectively guide their teams through the change process. That is when they would approach me to offer suggestions and provide tools that would increase the chances that the organizational change might be successful.

And that’s where you come in. If you are in the DR program you already have a very credible knowledge base for helping others work through conflict. The only thing you lack is a structured set of tools for managing change.

Think about it this way…If you are setting up your own practice, you will probably be charging about $150 – 250/hour for your services, with a typical mediation service netting $400 -$800. A change management project typically takes 6 to 18 months, with a change manager contacted at a hefty rate to provide support at each stage of that project.

On the other hand, if you are NOT thinking about hanging out your shingle, you are probably considering exploring employment opportunities in HR or related professions. In this case, change management skills can be an invaluable means of separating you from the other job candidates. I know, because I operated at the VP level for the last 15 years of my corporate work experience, and hired many full-time and contract support professionals.

For all of these reasons I am inviting you to sign up for the next Organizational Change Management course I will be conducting through our program in the upcoming May Term 2018.

This course is only available only once a year, and the next course will be conducted in the weekends of May 11-13; 18-20 (with registration March 19-30). You can obtain additional information from Jessica Lunce, our Program Manager at jlunce@smu.edu.

The bottom line – don’t wait until you graduate to figure this out. If you have been wanting to expand your career horizons, then perhaps this is the “change” that you have been waiting for. Hope to see you there!

SMU Dispute Resolution students and guests share insights from Rwanda experience

SMU Dispute Resolution faculty, students and guests, in collaboration with ALARM (African Leadership and Reconciliation Ministries), recently traveled to Rwanda to deliver peacebuilding and peer mediation training. After returning to Texas, the group shares their individual experiences with the Rwandan people and insights on what we could all learn about peace.

SMU Group, in collaboration with ALARM, (Left to Right): Elizabeth Blake, Ben Voth, Chris Snyder, Betty Gilmore, Husain Abdullah, Sarah Davenport, Samreen Hooda, Ashley Aguilar, Lori Anne Shaw

Dr. Betty Gilmore, SMU Dispute Resolution Program Director
“I believe that we learned more from the Rwandan people than they learned from us. Despite unthinkable adversity, there are many areas in which the country is thriving. The entire nation has committed to sustainable peace.

What touched me most was the resilience of the human spirit and the ability of people who have caused such harm to each other to come together to rebuild a nation. I hope that we can all learn from the gift they have given us with their example. If a country learning to forgive under such extreme conditions can heal, why can’t we? We must put aside our differences, look for the things that unite us, and realize that we are better together.”

To read more about Dr. Gilmore’s experience, visit: http://www.smu.edu/News/2017/betty-gilmore-rwanda-18april2017 

Ashley Aguilar, MA Dispute Resolution, Class of 2017
“I have never witnessed selflessness like I did in Rwanda. This quality was exhibited by everyone I encountered. Every person was more concerned about the well being of those surrounding them, than that of themselves. I’ve seen people with this quality before, but never have a seen this in everyone surrounding me on such a large scale. The Rwandan people have shown me what it truly means to live selflessly. We could use selflessness to build peace here. If we could teach more people the benefits of perspective taking and vulnerability and shift the paradigm, then I think selfless acts and decisions could follow. Imagine living each day for something more than just yourself. I felt blessed to be a part of it.”

Elizabeth Blake, MA Dispute Resolution, Class of 2017
“The Forgiveness Villages in Rwanda in which victims and perpetrators of the 1994 genocide live and work together were by far the most bold and courageous systems of peace and reconciliation implemented in country. Our group was able to visit one of the Forgiveness Villages in Nyamata, Rwanda to hear testimony from victims and perpetrators. They use civil discourse processes as a means speak their truth, share their personal narratives, hear testimony of victims AND perpetrators, and work toward peaceful resolution, and ultimately forgiveness and repentance.

Americans generally do not participate in civil discourse as a means to understand other perspectives, and American media tends to promote political and social polarization. Hatred and division have become the norm in American culture. Civil discourse involves great courage, compassion, and desire to understand the other person. Rwandans have mandated conflict resolution curriculum in schools as a means to teach children from a young age how to listen for understanding, show compassion for the other, and resolve conflict in their families and communities. Imagine the compassion, tolerance, and cohesion the next generation of Americans would have if we started teaching them conflict resolution when they first start school. Imagine the possibilities!” Continue reading SMU Dispute Resolution students and guests share insights from Rwanda experience

How to recover from your own Oscars-worthy blunders

Dispute Resolution Professor John Potter offers tips on how to give an effective apology. 

Dallas Morning News by Leslie Barker Garcia

Few of us (and that’s being generous) will ever present an Academy Award for best picture. Even fewer will muddle the name on the top-secret card, as Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway did in Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony.

But we’ve all had plenty of mortifying moments we wish we could take back, or that make us wish we could slink out the door under the red (or shag; we don’t care) carpet. They’re part of life; they’re part of being human. We make mistakes that we can neither erase nor go back in time to do differently.

What we can do is apologize. But we need to do that correctly so we don’t find ourselves apologizing for the apology.

As an associate professor in dispute resolution and conflict management at Southern Methodist University, John Potter talks about apology a lot. So who better to turn to for insight on the apology factor in Sunday night’s show?

Continue reading How to recover from your own Oscars-worthy blunders

How to keep today’s tension from stealing our souls

Dispute Resolution Professor Angela Mitakidis offers conflict resolution tips to help ease tensions in our daily lives. 

Dallas Morning News by Leslie Barker

Originally Posted: February 2, 2017

Nearing the end of a recent morning run — one in which, weary of hearing news on the radio, I had pulled out my earbuds miles earlier — I saw my across-the-street neighbor Rick gazing intently upward.

With my ears now open to sound, I knew right away what he was doing: Seeking the source of the sonorous song filling the sweet, soft, morning air.

I had barely a tenth of a mile left to go, but instead of finishing, I stopped. How could I not? Rick turned his eyes toward me long enough to say hello, then, a few seconds later, got that  “Aha!” look on his face.

 “There it is!” he proclaimed, pointing to the upper branches of his all-but-bare tree. “Would you listen to that robin?!”

I squinted, but couldn’t see it. Truth to tell, I didn’t need to. That exchange, barely a minute long, reminded me of this:

Life is found in moments, especially in those that unite us. Not in snark, not in sniping, not in the uncertainty and fear and vitriol that taints our Twitter feeds and Facebook posts, but in those times we find a way to stop the torrents surrounding us.

Continue reading How to keep today’s tension from stealing our souls

SMU Conflict Resolution Author Series Presents Dr. Robert Barner

SMU Conflict Resolution Author Series presents
“Building Collaboration from the Ground Up: Team building tools for everyone”

You’re invited to attend the SMU Conflict Resolution Author Series featuring SMU Dispute Resolution Lecturer, Dr. Robert Barner, and his book, Building Better Teams.

bobcoverbuildingbetterteamsEVENT INFORMATION
Free Lecture & Book Signing
December 14 at 6:30 p.m.
SMU-in-Plano, Great Room
5228 Tennyson Parkway

RSVP to drcm@smu.edu

ABOUT THE PRESENTATION
Today almost everyone is faced with situations in which they have to get things done through teams. Whether it is the project team you are leading at work or your local PTA organization, at some point in your life you will find that you are working in a team that tests your skills in team collaboration.

For many people, the term “team building” leaves a bad taste in their mouth. If you have ever been to a team building session that either didn’t work or even made matters worse, you are not alone. In this talk the author will explain event why good leaders and good teams can experience difficulties in collaborating, and why team building often fails. You will then be introduced to a simple approach you can use for getting teams quickly back on track. By the end of the session you will walk away with five different techniques you can use for building collaboration in your teams, and you will have the opportunity to talk with the author about any difficult team building challenges that you are currently facing.

Continue reading SMU Conflict Resolution Author Series Presents Dr. Robert Barner

SMU DRCM Prof. Tom Hartsell on How To Talk Politics Without Blowing Your Lid

D Magazine by S. Holland Murphy

Originally Posted: October 14, 2016

There’s a deep political divide among my Facebook friends: On one side, the conservative suburbanites whom I grew up with, and, on the other, the liberal artists and urbanites I have befriended since college. The election is bringing out the worst in all of them, and the dogmatic social media posts have now hit a fever pitch.

It may be bringing out the worst in me, as well. I’ve never been a fan of political discussions—the result of being raised by a lawyer whose sport of choice is heated debate—but this week’s political theatrics compelled me to leave an incendiary comment on a relative’s Facebook post, and I started to wonder whether some of my relationships could survive this election cycle.

All of this led me to email Tom Hartsell, a lawyer and mediator who teaches in the Department of Dispute Resolution and Counseling at SMU. I asked him if he had any thoughts on how I could make it to November 8th without having to sever ties with people I otherwise love and respect. He wrote back with an essay about his own experience. It’s worth sharing:

“Like most Americans I can’t wait for the presidential election to be over with.  My spouse and I have been coexisting on opposite sides of the political divide since we got married over 20 years ago. Every four years the tension begins to ramp up around the presidential election.  What we have learned is that we do best when we avoid discussion of the election and candidates. We spent years debating and arguing and trying to persuade and change each other’s views without success.

The old saying love the person, abhor the sin is applicable, but in a marriage it is best not to let on how much you abhor your spouse’s chosen candidate. For the sake of the greater good—the relationship—we had to agree to disagree and discontinue political debate. 

As an educator and professional involved in conflict resolution for most of my professional career, you would think I would have had more success in navigating political disagreements with my spouse and keep them from becoming contentious. My spouse and I were unable to keep our emotions from getting hijacked which caused bad feelings. In other words, we would get nasty with each other. Not the kind of heat you want in the marital bed. Fortunately, time has given us perspective. Guess what America, the country survives whoever gets to set up shop in the oval office. The emotional upset political disagreements generated was physically draining for my spouse and I, and would temporarily blind us as to how we truly felt about each other. 

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SMU DRCM Prof. Angela Mitakidis featured on FOX 4Ward for tips on conflict resolution

Fox 4 News

Originally Posted: January 25, 2016

SMU DRCM faculty member Angela Mitakidis sits down with FOX 4’s Dan Godwin to share simple, but effective techniques to keep disputes from escalating.

[youtube width=”560″ height=”315″]https://youtu.be/8g1tb-qaMIQ[/youtube]

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