Friday, July 27, 2007

Resistance fighters: how newcomers can speak up and not get put down by the rest of the crowd

Study shows that newcomers must relinquish ties to old group to be accepted by current oneRaising criticisms or concerns can often be a heroic act, even within a group whose members know each other well (a reality familiar to anyone who has tried to offer constructive feedback to a sensitive family member or friend.) Pity then the group's newcomer, who can expect even brilliant suggestions to meet harsh resistance.

So how to counter that resistance? What's a newcomer to do to gain greater influence in a group?

The Situationist reports on a newly published study that has some recommendations for newcomers seeking to gain acceptance of ideas:
When they criticized their current group, newcomers who distanced themselves from their previous group won over more agreement for their criticisms than did newcomers who embraced their previous group. This effect emerged regardless of how long participants themselves had been members of the group. Consistent with predictions, where there was a positive effect of distancing from the old group, it came about because the distancing strategy was successful in increasing perceptions that the critic was psychologically attached to his or her current group identity.
The report can be downloaded for a brief time only in PDF. Link good at time of posting.

Concepts of religion, civic responsibility promote cooperation, according to study

Religious concepts promote cooperationCanadian psychologists have found that when people are primed with religious concepts they behave in more altruistic ways.

Secular humanists need not fear--the same results were produced when participants were instead primed with concepts relating to civic responsibility. Researchers used word games to surreptitiously introduce these concepts to their subjects. Interestingly enough, exit interviews revealed that participants were unaware that they had been primed.

What I find fascinating about the study is the extent to which human behavior can be so readily influenced. And it certainly raises intriguing possibilities for the mediator's opening statement, already important for the extent to which it can shape the negotiations to follow, as attorney-mediator Christopher Annunziata discussed recently at CKA Mediation & Arbitration Blog. All the more reason for mediators to carefully consider the words they choose to frame the conversation.

(Via Boing Boing.)

Friday, July 13, 2007

Nothing but the truth: Radical Honesty movement proposes a world without deception

The truth will set you freeThey say that honesty is the best policy.

But given the lengths to which people will go to avoid confrontation or tough conversations, honesty may be the first casualty in human interaction.

Besides, is lying really always wrong? What if it serves noble ends? Isn't deception just a social lubricant, allowing us to get along? Shouldn't we lie to prevent harm to another? If lying is always wrong, then are studies in human behavior ethically indefensible? What about undercover police work? Or the bluffing, puffery, and lowballing that can characterize negotiations? (And let's not even get started on deception in mediation.) Despite what we tell our children about lies, deception may be indispensable.

But a movement known as Radical Honesty proposes instead that the truth will set us free: it calls for no-holds-barred, "direct, open and honest conversation" as the best way to build meaningful relationships.

Journalist A.J. Jacobs recently took up the challenge. In "I Think You're Fat", an article from the July issue of Esquire, he describes his experiment in Radical Honesty and its impact on his work and personal life. Jacobs discovers one upside: "One of the best parts of Radical Honesty is that I'm saving a whole lot of time. It's a cut-to-the-chase way to live." The downside? Radical Honesty can be downright cruel. An acquaintance recovering from a recent tragic loss seeks Jacobs' professional advice on poetry he's written. Jacobs cannot bring himself to tell the truth: the poetry stinks. When faced with a choice between honesty or compassion, Jacobs opts for compassion.

Read Jacobs' essay and ask yourself what choices you might make yourself. It'll leave you thinking--and that's no lie.

Israel and Peru among countries now represented in World Directory of ADR Blogs

World Directory of ADR Blogs adds Israel and Peru to inventoryFour blogs have now joined the steadily growing inventory of the World Directory of ADR Blogs. They are:

better than misery. Written by a student studying mediation and living in Jerusalem, this blog, a kind of virtual notebook reflecting the thoughts of a mediator-to-be, is the Directory's first from Israel.

LIMAMARC.REVISTA. Published by the LIMAMARC Center for Conflict Resolution in Lima, Peru, this alternative dispute resolution blog discusses negotiation, mediation, conciliation, and arbitration.

Conflictologos. Published in Valparaiso, Chile, by attorney and dispute resolution professional Juan Enrique Egaña G., Conflictologos examines social and organizational conflict.

Brains on Purpose™. Published by my friend Stephanie West Allen, JD, who has already gained a reputation for blogging excellence with Idealawg, in collaboration with Jeffrey M. Schwartz, MD, Brains on Purpose™ covers the crossroads of neuroscience and conflict resolution.

If you publish or know of a blog that should be added to the World Directory, please let me know. It's a commercial-free site, and there is no cost to be listed. The Directory has information on submitting your blog and some simple submission guidelines.