Tag: resolution

Navigating Conflict At Christmas

Starting way back with Halloween and extending all the way to Christmas, “the holiday season” is known as a time of joy and cheer. There’s a magic in the air, people seem more smiley in the stores, and the near-constant Christmas music helps encourage the “jolliness” of the season.

Certainly, this time of year can be full of fun and joy, but it can also be a time of great stress, resentment and even conflict as we give and receive gifts, host visitors, attend parties, hang lights, spend money and hustle here and there with a seemingly never-ending to-do list. Ironically, “the most wonderful time of the year” can end up being the most tense time of year for many.

But if there’s one thing we know at Prism (don’t worry— there’s way more than one!) it’s conflict management, because it’s what we do everyday. We walk with people through their own unique conflicts, we listen to their stories, and we help give them a map that they can use to find their way from where they are, to where they want to be.

The approach we use in the mediation room is no different than the approach we use at home when our spouse is upset that we still didn’t hang the lights like they asked. It’s no different than how we handle that spat about who “forgot” to tell us about the holiday party tonight or who “never mentioned” it. The attitude we have when we’re impatient with a member of a mediation is the same attitude we (try to) have when we’re impatient with a cashier. 

In short, the way we approach conflict in our work, is the same way we approach conflict in our lives: with care and respect.

As we experience the occasional Christmas Conflict with our spouses, kids, coworkers, neighbors, or the unbelievably slow customer in front of us in line, we extend the same care and respect that we use in our mediations.

Some things we try to practice in conflicts inside and outside of our work are:

  • truly listening to the other person’s story
    Whether it’s “true” or not, it is this person’s reality and it’s true for them. Listening and acknowledging their perspective is key.
    • “I would be upset too if a Christmas party was sprung on me at the last minute, too.”
  • validating feelings instead of trying to “logic” them away
    Spoiler alert: it’s not about the lights! It’s about the feeling. And no amount of logic is going to help that feeling go away.
    • “I’m sorry you feel alone in decorating the house. How can I help you?”
  • asking questions rather than giving demands
    Leading people to a solution is much more effective than telling them what they “should” do.
    • “Could you try to talk to your Mom about it so we don’t repeat last year?”

Although we hope your holiday is free of conflict and filled with that special Christmas joy and cheer, should you find yourself in a scuffle, we hope these thoughts come in handy, this season and after!

Happy Holidays to you and yours!

Efficiency vs. Effectiveness: Prism’s Mediation Approach

This month, Prism had the privilege of presenting about our mediation practice at the Louisiana Worker’s Compensation Seminar by Juge Napolitano. Because mediation is about so much more than just reaching a settlement, we thoroughly enjoy the opportunity to share some insights about our strategies and mindsets we use in the mediation room.

Among the many things we keep in mind is the idea of efficiency vs. effectiveness. 

Thanks to technology and the wonderful pandemic-inspired discovery of all that can be done remotely, the workplace is more and more geared towards efficiency. We not only want to get one thing done as quickly as possible, we also want to get 3 other things done at the same time.

While not an inherently negative aim, we often get distracted by efficiency and end up sacrificing effectiveness.

  • In mediation, this can look like rushing a case to closure, only to end up at a result that leaves parties feeling uninvolved in the outcome.
  • In our relationships, it can look like trying to engage in a meaningful discussion while one person is checking their email, which leaves both parties only 50% engaged in each task.
  • In our personal lives, it can look like taking a work call while we grill with a glass of wine and unwind after the day, which renders our efforts to relax quite ineffective.

Being efficient is great.

But being effective is often what matters more.

At Prism, we try to carry this mindset with us in mediations and in our lives outside of work, because we know that injured workers, insurance companies & businesses— like humans— ultimately want effective resolution. We can certainly be efficient and effective at the same time, but only if we’re cognizant of both and aim our efforts appropriately.

Alan & Sean at the Prism table in Dallas

The Path to Resolution: At Work, At Home & In The World


A participating party refuses to make concessions about their case, although the path to a smoother, less stressful tomorrow is obviously in contradiction to what they say they want. How can they not see this?

It’s week 3 of your spouse lamenting about their latest struggles at work, and no matter what you suggest, you’re met with resistance. Why aren’t they at least trying to solve the problem?

The other side” wants to handle the problem this way, but that’s clearly ridiculous and makes no sense. How could they think this way?

Everyday— in the mediation room, at home, in the world— we are confronted with choices, beliefs and actions of others that we may not understand or agree with. And when others think differently than we do, it’s easy to conclude that “they” are blind, ignorant, careless, foolish. This labeling creates a distance between “us” and “them,” one that feels good, initially, because it assures us that it is not us who are “stupid” or foolish, it is “them.” We are the smart ones, the right ones, the ones who see clearly. If only “they” could think like us.

In maintaining this distance, we also maintain the subconscious belief that if those who disagreed with us would only come over to our side, things would be better, the problem would be solved, and all would be right. The greater the distance between “us” and “them,” the easier it is to maintain this belief.

We at Prism Group, though, believe resolution happens when both parties are willing to bridge that gap, to close the distance between “our side” and “the other side.” We believe resolution happens— at work, at home & in the world—when each side has the courage to walk towards the other in efforts to understand them.

Walking towards “the other” requires us to put our Egos aside, however. When we choose resolution, we must also choose to abandon our position and seek to understand another. We must choose to forego being “right” in exchange for moving forward in resolution together. Prism’s path to resolution is not about what each side wants, it’s about what both sides want: resolution. We believe resolution begins with an effort to understand “the other side”— at work, at home & in the world.