May Travels and Trainings (Whew!)
During the month of May, I spoke on 9 days in 7 states/provinces. But three of those days were by Skype, so a little less traveling than the month before. John Edwards did a training in Iowa for mediators and Georgi DiStefano taught a workplace seminar with me and then went to New York City to receive the award for our book It’s All Your Fault at Work (Axiom Best Business Books award in the Human Resources/Employee Training category). As the article in this month’s newsletter shows, I’m really into training these days. I want people to learn new skills and not just talk about conflict and how frustrating other people are. In New York, I gave a training in our New Ways for Mediation method – which is really a paradigm shift for most mediators, as we have restructured almost every step of mediation. At the start, we don’t ask for opening statements, concerns that brought you here or anything else that would open up the past. We really want to focus forward by asking “What are your thoughts and questions about the decisions you want to make?” This gives each person a chance to speak, but re-focuses them on the future and solving problems, rather than focusing on the past and blaming and complaining – as high conflict people often do.
Oh, and while I was at the New York State Council on Divorce Mediation conference, they gave me a Lifetime Achievement Award for my work in mediation! Two awards in one month! And (I hope) we’ve only just begun!
I gave three Skype-type trainings in May. The first was a Webinar for the organization PDAN (Personality Disorder Awareness Network), titled: “Key Skills for Coping with a High-Conflict Co-Parent.” It was recorded, so if you still want to see it, you can purchase it here. It was great to be able to share a lot of successful techniques (from BIFF Responses to Making Proposals and beyond) with parents, after spending most of my time teaching professionals. Reasonable parents can really use these methods these days, with so many high-conflict co-parents out there (borderlines, narcissists, antisocials, histrionics and paranoids – at least).
I also gave two New Ways for Families trainings by Skype to counselors and lawyers in Texas and Ontario. We now have people trained in over 20 cities in the New Ways for Families method, with courts ordering it in one form or another in five jurisdictions. This method also contains a lot of paradigm shifts, so that practice exercises are the way to go.
In mid-month I got to visit and speak in Victoria, BC and Seattle, Washington. Beautiful areas I must say. The family mediators in Victoria work with the Family Justice Division of the court system and they were very receptive to the new ideas for managing high-conflict families. They really liked the techniques and the paradigm shifts from the past to the future, and giving clients more responsibility and involvement in every step of the decision-making process in mediation, including jointly deciding topics, who goes first and in making numerous proposals. I also got to see many of my collaborative and mediation friends from prior visits, as well as meeting with Michael Lomax, one of our HCI speakers who lives there.
The Seattle presentation was to Guardians ad Litem who work with elders in need of care and supervision, and their family members. They seemed to appreciate the structured approach to setting up and running family meetings. With several family members discussing highly distressing issues, the chance for high-conflict behavior and emotions is very high. While I was in Seattle, I also got to visit with Mark Baumann, a family lawyer and another one of our occasional High Conflict Institute speakers.
Back in San Diego, Georgi DiStefano and I gave a training in managing high-conflict people in the workplace. We have just started doing this training and we expect it to grow as more and more people with high-conflict behavior show up at work. Sign us up for training now, while we’re available (and inexpensive). Everything that High Conflict Institute does seems to grow, as this issue continues to grow.
Last, but certainly not least, was four days in New Orleans for the AFCC Annual International Conference. Over 1100 people attended and there was the usual buzz of new ideas, old friends and lots of excitement. I got to give a new Pre-Conference Institute on “Client Engagement Skills for High-Conflict Families,” which included 6 specific skills that lawyers, counselors and others can teach their individual clients to engage them more effectively in problem-solving, making decisions and sticking with their decisions. Since parents follow court orders approximately half as frequently as their own decisions, there’s a lot of value in helping them learn how to make their own decisions – as much as safely possible. I also got to meet with several key people from our New Ways for Families team (see photo).
While this session was for individual professionals working with individual clients, the next day I gave a report on our 3 years of research on the success of our New Ways for Families programs in Medicine Hat and Calgary, in Alberta Canada. Stay tuned for more on that in the coming months. (Hint: About 80% of high-conflict families ordered into the program are settling their cases out of court.)
Now for a vacation! Have a good month!
Bill Eddy is a lawyer, therapist, and mediator. He is the co-founder and Training Director of the High Conflict Institute, a training and consultation firm that trains professionals to deal with high-conflict people and situations. He is the author of several books and methods for handling high conflict personalities and high conflict disputes with the most difficult people.