Bellevue, Washington - High Conflict Mediation Seminar

On Tuesday March 29, I did a seminar with about 35 mediators in Bellevue, Washington (just outside of Seattle). It was just an evening, but we really delved into the issues of High Conflict Mediation – my theme for March it seems. It’s becoming clearer to me how much the mediator (or anyone) can influence which conflict resolution approach people use in dealing with a dispute: their “defensive brain” (associated more with the right brain’s fast protective action) or their “problem-solving” brain (associated more with the left brain’s logical analysis). They each have a specialty with conflict resolution, so that defensive action shuts down logical analysis, so that you can engage in fight, flight or freeze in a matter of seconds.  But logical thinking doesn’t prevent sudden defensiveness. Over and over again we are all tempted to get angry with high conflict people in an effort to get them to be logical. But when we’re angry or frustrated with them, it just plops them right back into their right brain defensiveness and they often get stuck there. Therefore, the goal is to communicate with them in “right brain” language: calm tone of voice and reassurance that you will deal with them with Empathy, Attention and Respect. It really works, and in practice exercises the “clients” said they could feel themselves being calmed down by their mediators very quickly.

Ask Clients to Make a Proposal Putting an emphasis on asking clients to make proposals also seemed to work in these practice exercises (see more about that in earlier blogs). As one of the “clients” said: “It stopped me in my tracks from blaming, when I realized that I had to come up with a solution.” And having to think of solutions and proposals (instead of being criticized) seems to put upset people right back into their left brain problem-solving.

It was a great, although brief, experience for me. Next was my 2-full-day training in Vancouver on the same subject. With the experience from Victoria a couple weeks ago and last month in Bellevue, I think it was a rewarding 2 days. I feel excited and very fortunate to be learning and teaching with so many very experienced dispute resolvers, who are so committed to really helping families and others facing high conflict situations. I look forward to sharing with you what we learn next!


High Conflict Institute provides training and consultations, as well and books, DVDs and CDsregarding dealing with High Conflict People (HCPs) in legal, workplace, educational, and healthcare disputes. Bill Eddy is the President of the High Conflict Institute and the author of It’s All Your Fault!, Splitting, BIFF: Quick Responses to High Conflict People, Their Hostile Emails, Personal Attacks and Social Media Meltdowns and Don’t Alienate the Kids! He is an author, attorney, mediator, and therapist. Bill has presented seminars to attorneys, judges, mediators, ombudspersons, human resource professionals, employee assistance professionals, managers, and administrators in 25 states, several provinces in Canada, France, Sweden, and Australia. For more information about High Conflict Institute, our seminars and consultations, Bill Eddy or to purchase a book, CD or DVD,