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From Hot Buttons to Hot Products: Conflict Pro Gift Guide

Got a peacemaker on your gift list or want to redecorate your office or yourself?  Look no further than this Conflict Pro Gift Guide.  Enough of neuroscience already, although you may want to check out my recent webinar on the brain and conflict at the ADRhub Werner Institute. Today, my neurons sparkle with the anticipation of the holidays.  I am very grateful to all of you, my dear readers, for your support and our mutual learning and sharing!  Thank you!  Let’s have a little bit of dopamine-inducing, conflict-reducing fun and indulge in these peacemakers’ picks for the holidays.

You have a big heart, don’t you?  Otherwise, you wouldn’t be in the peacemaking business. Perhaps, your home or office needs a heart too.  Check out this Driftwood Heart.  It can serve as a good conversation piece, whole-heartedness priming device, and an object of metaphorical exploration.

Driftwood HeartSugarcoating problems won’t solve them, but it will make them sticky.  A heart-felt, direct apology can go a long way, especially, if it is delivered on a fun notecard, like these “Sorry I Was So Prickly” cards.

Sorry I was Prickly
What are you grateful for this holiday season? These simple but elegant Thank You notes will help you express your gratitude to people that make your life happier and brighter.
Thank You NotesThere are many peacemaking tools out there, but kindness stands out from the crowd.  Kill Them With Kindness…or with this art print.

Kill Them With Kindness
Holidays can be joyful, and they can also be stressful. “There’s an Elephant in the Room Cards” were created to help people move with grace through difficult moments in their relationships.

You were right
If you want to master your relationships and be a peacemaker or know someone who could benefit from conflict management skills (and who wouldn’t?), the book “Conflict Management Coaching: The CINERGY™ Model” by Cinnie Noble will equip you with research-based and battle-tested tools to navigate interpersonal disputes.

Conflict Coaching

To borrow the title of Laurie Baker’s short story – “Go in Peace, Not in Pieces.” …Although the pieces from The Barber’s Daughters jewelry can certainly help you go in peace, like this “Breathe Peace” necklace.

Breathe PeaceI can’t wait for their Prayer Rings collection to come out. Spin the messages ‘peace begins with me’ or ‘one moment at a time’ on your finger.

Prayer Rings

Eat in peace and in style.  This Earth-friendly, non-toxic and safe White Peace Plate will remind little peacemakers to play nice.
Peace Plate
Your power lies in the questions you ask.  The answer is always closer than you think. Here’s a good question…“What good shall I do this day?”
What good shall I do this day?

This is your life. Live like you mean it. Be inspiring like this Holstee Manifesto Poster.

And above all, don’t forget to smile!  Happy holidays!

By | 2012-11-20T15:54:04+00:00 November 20th, 2012|Books, Communication, Conflict Management|0 Comments

Launching “The Golden Climate” of Your Online Presence

The Golden ClimateWe are all geographically unbound, mobile, and busier than ever. It is not surprising that a lot of our communication happens now long-distance or virtually – via the phone, Skype, email, texts, social media, etc.  The same applies to learning and sharing our knowledge and solutions with our clients and customers. The Internet is no longer just the cherry on top of our professional brands, it is one of the main ingredients.  Yet, online communication is not easy. Brains don’t just have to link, they also need to sync.

If you have ever thought about sharing your expertise online through information products or online courses or looked for ways to transcend virtual distance and understand how attention and emotions work in the cyberspace, I have some good news for you.  My friend and colleague of many years, back from our days at the graduate program in Linguistics, Dr. Marina Kostina and her co-author Dr. William LaGanza wrote a book, titled “The Golden Climate in Distance Learning: The Secrets of Immediate Connection, Engagement, Enjoyment, and Performance.” 

The book is a guide to your effective online presence as a teacher, trainer, and an educator. It shows you how to get learners’ attention, be genuine and present online, develop rapport and provide effective feedback, create the optimal learning environment, design effective presentations and use games to increase learner performance, and also how to manage your own time and enjoy your virtual classroom, among many other things.

This book is for serious online instructors and trainers. It is well researched and engaging. In fact, Dr. Marina Kostina’s Ph.D. dissertation was about that same topic of creating effective online engagement and learning experience.  She backs it up with her practical expertise of building distance learning programs in over 40 countries. Dr. William LaGanza publishes regularly in the areas of learner autonomy and distance learning.  His company has spearheaded many leadership and management development applications. In addition, the book includes a number of expert interviews from a variety of fields.  I am honored to be one of the professionals interviewed for the book on the topic on conflict management in virtual classrooms.

To be an effective online educator may require a shift from the traditional approaches and misconceptions about learning:

The Golden Climate therefore is not a substance that can be measuredby the amount of messages you post online, or by your time log. When you build relationships with others that support growth and autonomy while creating a sense of connection, i.e., when you build the Golden Climate, you must also be receptive to the intentions and dispositions of other people and negotiate your interactions based on these dynamics. Willing yourself to be a great teacher online will not get you to your goal. If you want to create a welcoming classroom, you must BE welcoming, not just apply welcoming strategies. If you want your students to feel comfortable sharing their ideas and thoughts online, you must BE the person who is comfortable with such sharing. If you want your students to enjoy your class, you must BE enjoying it too. Therefore, your role online changes from the giver of knowledge or “doing” to providing emotional support, building connections, and feeling the dynamics of the classroom: i.e., your role shifts to the realm of being. Certainly, if you have been teaching in a traditional way, where your role is to be authoritarian and detached and to transmit knowledge, this new way of seeing yourself requires a paradigm shift — a process that is not easily implemented and that takes time. The successful engagement, autonomy, enjoyment, and performance of your students depends on your making this shift.

We are doing the book launch on May 8, 2012 to spread the word. For more details on the book launch and how you can get a bonus e-book and have your name entered to win a Kindle, with the book purchase, click HERE.

[UPDATE] Well-deserved!

The Art of Adversity

“Difficulties are meant to rouse, not discourage. The human spirit is to grow strong by conflict.”
~ William Ellery Channing

As a young boy with a severe learning disability, Chuck Close was told not to even think about college. Nevertheless, he went on to get his MFA from Yale and became a world renowned artist.  Even though he has a condition called face blindness and can’t recognize faces in three dimensions, Chuck Close is known for his portraits and his unique technique of painting on a grid.

Artist Janet Echelman goes to India to exhibit her works and discovers that her paints went missing in route from the U.S. to India.  This experience forces her to learn a new art material.  Now, she makes monumental, fluidly moving sculpture for urban airspace that responds to the environmental forces of wind, water, and sunlight.

Dale Chihuly is a glass sculptor and entrepreneur.   His story is described in the book “Iconoclast:  A Neuroscientist Reveals How to Think Differently,” by Gregory Berns.   In 1976, while Chihuly was in England, he was involved in a head-on car accident during which he flew through the windshield. He was blinded in his left eye and has been wearing a black patch over the injured eye since then.  The loss of depth perception forced him to look at the traditional art of glassblowing differently.  Ultimately, he departed from the traditional symmetry standard, experimenting with asymmetric sculptures he is now known for.   A few years after the accident, Chihuly dislocated his arm while surfing.  Unable to blow glass himself, he hired a team of artists to work in the hotshop he supervised.  This change in the work process led to large-scale operations and his commercial success.

We often hear that we need to think outside the box to be creative.  Adversity can lead to innovation in art and life because it destroys the proverbial “box.” Adversity forces people to perceive the world differently.  Some get lost without the “box.”  Adversity can unleash a whirlwind of emotions and sweep people off their feet into the dark tunnel of fear, denial, blame, shame, surrender.   Some, however, are capable of emerging on the other side stronger, more resourceful, and more creative than before.  They go on to construct a new “box” – their new reality where they continue to develop, probe, and fine-tune their new identity and understanding of the world.  The brain needs the “box” as a mental pattern and a symbol of control over our environment.   The brain is a prediction machine and the “box” makes things predictable.  Sometimes, the act of building such a “box” out of a new fabric of beliefs, in a new place, with new tools, among new people becomes a creative process in itself.

By | 2011-06-22T15:41:27+00:00 June 22nd, 2011|Books, Change, Creativity, Perception|0 Comments

Fascinate your way through conflicts

“Fascinate?” you may wonder. In conflicts, people argue, fight, yell, accuse, threaten, push each other’s buttons…but fascinate? That doesn’t seem to fit into our typical paradigm of conflict behaviors.

Perhaps, it’s time for a mind shift. Triggers are not just those pesky things that we become all worked up about and that send our brains into the fight-or-flight response. According to Sally Hogshead, the author of “Fascinate: Your 7 Triggers to Persuasion and Captivation,” triggers can be fascinating. The triggers that Sally Hogshead identifies can help you grab attention and be more persuasive. They are:

  • Power
  • Trust
  • Mystique
  • Prestige
  • Alarm
  • Rebellion
  • Passion

Watch this TEDxAtlanta video in which Sally Hogshead explains how the seven triggers of fascination can help you get others to fall in love with your ideas.

We all have our preferred triggers of fascination that influence our relationships. You can take the F-score test to find out yours at http://sallyhogshead.com/fscoreq1/.

My primary trigger happens to be passion, characterized by “a warm and open style of interaction,” intuitive approach to information and decisions, and probably “a strong creative streak” among other things.  “Even when you mask your emotions, you feel passionately about your opinions.”  Now I know why I was inspired to write about “Boosting creativity through passion, novelty and pleasure.”

My secondary trigger is rebellion: “A personal sense of freedom is near and dear to your heart; anyone who tries to force you to play by the rules might just end up losing you.”

I wonder how the triggers of fascination play out in conflicts, or more specifically, how we can make a better use of the triggers of fascination to move beyond the predicable sequence of arguing into the state of creative dissonance where we can effectively leverage our differences and open our minds to creative solutions.

Will the passion trigger make me supersensitive and defensive in conflict or will it allow me to show the warmth and empathy needed to break through the impasse? Will my rebellious nature make me less compromising or more resourceful? What makes conflicts fascinating? What do you think?

By | 2011-06-01T18:31:51+00:00 June 1st, 2011|Books, Communication, Conflict Management|1 Comment

Boosting creativity through passion, novelty and pleasure

I’ve just returned from Chicago, where I had the pleasure to present my program “Rewire Your Brain to Speak Your Mind: Neuroscience Insights for Conflict Management” at the Association of Conflict Resolution Chicago Area Chapter. It was wonderful to connect with other conflict resolution professionals and tap into our collective brain power for new ideas and approaches. Later, I got a chance to catch up with my Chicago friends and attend an amazing skating show – Ice Dreams 2011.

While the swirl of events from this weekend in Chicago is still fresh in my mind, I am going to anchor my breath-taking and brain-captivating experiences with words as I reflect on how passion, novelty, and pleasure can help us become better solution-finders:

1.   Remember to nurture and pursue your life’s passions. Passions have the ability to dissolve fear, doubt, and hesitation. They can give you the voice to speak your truth. And it doesn’t really matter what your passions are as long as they help you embrace your own identity and live your life more fully. Passions can disrupt the perpetual circles of victimhood, blame, and excuses by shifting attention to more pleasant experiences.  According to neuro-psychologist Barbara Fredrickson, the author of “Positivity: Groundbreaking Research Reveals How to Embrace the Hidden Strength of Positive Emotions, Overcome Negativity, and Thrive,” positive emotions make us more creative and resourceful. They open the mind to new possibilities and new ways of dealing with old problems. So, get connected to your passions.

2.  Expand your synaptic connections through new places, people, and experiences. It will help you keep your brain plastic and able to build new pathways that can translate into new behaviors and new thinking patterns. Exposure to varying cultural experiences and views increases the pool of ideas to draw from and makes people more acceptable of differing opinions. Novelty tends to attract attention and boost cognitive energy. The brain is wired to make sense of the outside world so that we can feel more comfortable in it. Novel information puzzles the brain as it tries figure out how this new piece of information fits into our worldview. The brain is motivated by curiosity and the search for patterns. That’s how we learn. When the brain is busy searching for patterns and making predictions, it produces more neuromodulator dopamine, which is responsible for more pleasurable experience. You can stretch your brain and build up your transformational capacity by introducing small changes to your routine through travel, new activities, and new friends.

3.  Nourish your senses and savor your positive emotions. What you feed to your senses has a profound effect on how you perceive the world and make decisions. A recent study, for example, reveals that people stereotype more in disorderly areas than in the clean ones. According to another study, the mere presence of plants in an office setting boosts one’s ability to maintain attention. Beautiful and luxurious experiences create a perfect neurococktail to envelope your brain in a pleasant, dopamine-induced buzz.  The feeling of awe is transformative.

Positive psychologists have discovered that one way to increase our well-being is to savor our life experiences. Savoring is a form of mindfulness.  According to Fred Bryant, the author of “Savoring,” we can anticipate future events, appreciate the present, or reminisce positively about the past. All three forms of savoring are helpful in producing positive emotions.

Rich sensory experiences that appeal to your eyes, ears, your senses of smell and touch make savoring easy. Find what makes your senses happy and indulge. But remember that people tend to compensate for distress by overindulging. Our willpower and self-control diminish when we are in a bad mood, while our search for pleasure and comfort increases. So, it is better to schedule your harmless infusions of beauty and luxury periodically to cultivate a positive outlook in the long run.

On this note, I am off to reconnect with my positive emotions as I savor the memories of the past weekend, new professional connections, good times with friends, and the immersive experience of dancing lights and music, combined with the mastery, speed, and power of the blades.

By | 2011-05-03T23:32:48+00:00 May 3rd, 2011|Books, Brain, Creativity, Perception|3 Comments