Managing Conflict


Here is a link to my article on Othello and family violence published in The Conversation. I am presenting a paper at this week’s National Mediation Conference on a similar theme – Mediating King Lear:  Taking the Tragedy out of Shakespeare’s Greatest Tragedy. The bi-annual National Mediation Conference is the largest convention of mediators in Australia.  There are always great presentations of interest to lawyers and other negotiation professionals – as well as for mediators.


Here is an article by me from last Friday’s Sydney Morning Herald on the impact of Australia’s increasingly international population and possible child abductions – The article explains that six of the ten most common countries of origin of immigrants to Australia are not signatories to the Hague Convention on the International Abduction of Children.


On Monday 7 March I am appearing on a Law Society expert panel discussion of ethical, moral, legal and practical considerations arising in negotiations and dispute resolution practice. Other panel members include a Federal Court Judge, Barristers and Solicitors. Steve Lancken will facilitate a discussion of a hypothetical mediation from the entertainment industry involving moral, legal and behavioural dilemmas. Places in the audience are still available.  Here is a link to the Law Society website with further detail and online registration -


Collaborative Family Law Training Course

I am co-presenting a two day interdisciplinary collaborative family law course at Relationships Australia, Macquarie Park on Friday 4 March and Saturday 5 March 2016. The other presenters are: David Roberts who is a collaborative practice coach and established the first Relationships Australia collaborative practice group. Jackie Jones who is a collaborative lawyer and also teaches at UTS (where I also teach dispute resolution advocacy to law undergraduates). Bill Hewlett  who is a coach and child specialist from Relationships Australia. The course provides an introduction to interdisciplinary collaborative practice, and is designed for: Lawyers with no collaborative training, or those wanting to learn about multi-disciplinary teams. Financial professionals interested in becoming neutral financial experts in collaborative family law matters. Mental health professionals wanting to become coaches or child consultants in the collaborative process. If you are interested in attending, I attach a flyer for the course. Interdisciplinary Collaborative Practice Training 2016


LEADR-IAMA is one of the largest mediation organisations in Australasia with over 4000 members.  It holds a biannual Kongress which covers topics relevant not only to mediators, but also to lawyers and all professionals interested in negotiation and conflict resolution. In my presentation to this year's Kongress in Sydney, I shall explain how electronic communications such as email and text create misunderstandings and conflict.  I shall recommend ways in which professionals can assist others (and themselves) to avoid the traps of electronic communications that commonly arise in negotiations and dispute resolution. For a link to a short audio preview of my presentation (to be given on Monday 7 September 2015) as well as links to register - click here. I also spoke at the last Kongress in 2013 on lawyers at mediation.  For a link to my earlier paper click here.


I thought you might find this video interesting -  It features English teenagers talking about the separation of their parents.  As a family mediator and lawyer, the video made me reflect on: Even though the interviews occur around 6 years after separation, some of the teenagers are still hoping their parents might get back together. The teenagers spend a lot of time and energy thinking and worrying about their parents and their separation. The parents gave little and conflicting information to their children about the separation - perhaps explaining the above two points. The separations could have been made easier for the children (and probably the parents) by greater communication between the parents and clearer explanations about what is to happen being given to the children.  Mediation is a great way for parents to decide how to do this. I have been referring my mediation and legal clients to the video. You ...


Separating spouses have many issues to resolve - including choosing the most appropriate decision making process.  Early selection of the best process helps separating spouses reach the best possible agreements, save time and money, and minimise acrimony. I have developed the attached chart to help explain the four main process choices available to spouses - being mediation, collaborative practice, lawyer-to-lawyer negotiations and court.  I find the chart useful in helping clients select the most appropriate process for their family circumstances. You are welcome to use the chart to discuss this issue with your clients, friends or colleagues.  I would welcome your feedback. Click here for my Family Law Process Chart.


We all have to deal on occasions with difficult people who argue about everything with everyone.  Bill Eddy calls them “High Conflict People” (hereafter called HCPs). Bill Eddy is a Californian lawyer, mediator and therapist who has written extensively about managing HCPs, and gave a workshop earlier this month in Sydney. This blog summarises the aspects of Bill Eddy’s work which I have found most useful in dealing with difficult and high conflict people – both as a lawyer and as a mediator. It includes a list of Ten Ways to Deal More Effectively with High Conflict People. Characteristics of High Conflict People High conflict people: 1.           Lack self awareness of:   2.           Lack ability to change:  3.           Externalise responsibility for their problems:  Anger and conflictual behaviour of HCPs commonly arise from their grieving for an actual, perceived or anticipated loss.  For example, following separation, most spouses go through five stages of grieving (for the loss of the relationship, ...