Scarcity and Abundance

Mediation, conflict resolution, dispute resolution, conflict engagement, interpersonal communication training, reputation /relationship management, counseling, therapy and legal services are all valuable skills to pay top dollar to get in the abundance economy.
Trainers, workshop presenters, facilitators and consultants in an abundant economy are consistently looking for the edge that will make them—and the services that they offer—“scarce.”
In a traditional, industrial based economic system, this wasn’t an issue, because brands advertised, salesmen sold, and certain professions didn’t have to advertise (i.e. lawyers, doctors, etc.) because everyone “knew” that the professional expertise was locked up in a crystal palace (to borrow from Seth Godin here of scarcity.
Scarcity based on access, knowledge, education, and resources.
But, in an economy where the Internet, social media, Google searches, blogs and a thousand other media content methods have leveled the playing field, how does a professional conflict engagement practitioner get the parties to pay?
By being the only one who can show up.
The mediation process is not scarce. It’s abundant.
More education, more exposure more publication of methods, practices, tactics and approaches ensures that when a client calls XYZ Mediation Service, they are going to get the only thing that they can’t get anywhere else:
XYZ mediator.
That’s scarcity in an abundance economy.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant

Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
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Technical Tango & Cash

Last week our principle conflict engagement consultant, Jesan Sorrells, was asked to speak at the Technical Career Connection Class at Suny-Broome Community College in Binghamton, NY.

This was a great opportunity to talk about the importance of marketing yourself as something more than a brand and about the exciting opportunities for development and growth that access gives us in the early 21stcentury.
As part of the “deal” the Technical Career Connections class awarded Jesan this very fine certificate and he agreed to answer questions emailed to him from the participants.
Below is a sample of some of the questions that were asked and some of the answers provided:
If someone isn’t technically sharp and doesn’t have a lot of time, what would you recommend them doing in regard to social media for professional outreach purposes?
We are the vanguard of an evolution in human communication, connection, development and society, just as important as anything that happened in the 60’s or 70’s and the difference between the people who will be left behind and the people who will be participating (remember the curve) will be thick.
Here’s a story to illustrate what I’m talking about: I was standing next to an older man at a retail store and he was telling me “I’m too old to learn new things. I can barely operate a flip phone.” I asked him “How old are you?” He said “I’m 58 years old.”
Confusion, disengagement and dismissal are luxuries that we won’t have time for 40-50 years from now, much less now. For a person who’s not technically sharp, there has never been a better time to be engaged and to get educated than now.
What are some tools that you feel people should know as they look for professional careers? 
Know how to navigate multiple social media platforms (or at least talk about them) and know how they can interface with the business you are aiming at.
Know how to be an entrepreneur and actively practice building an idea, a platform or a product that will protect you, create connection, relationship and revenue and allow you to pick yourself when the economy tanks again or you are “downsized” by either a robot or automation or globalization.
Know how to navigate the tools of the future, including mobile technology and wearable techs.
Do you feel social media will change people’s day to day interactions?
Yes. It already has. And if it hasn’t hit your friend circle yet, it will. Even the laggards and late adopters in the government are going to be impacted in their day-to-day interactions by social media.
Think about it: How often during the week do you get up and check Facebook, Twitter or whatever your favorite blog is? How often do you listen to a podcast or read a blog or get a personalized email and then tell someone about it? How often do you “share” a good song from Pandora or Spotify?
Do you think becoming depended on a social media site is a good thing?
I think that “becoming dependent” is neither good nor bad.
However, I think that taking time away, unplugging and living a disciplined life that allows for being around family, friends, other activities, etc., will keep you balanced and a person who will remain engaging, funny and interesting.
For me, I have “date night” with my wife and I try to always have dinner with my kids with no phones or electronics at the table as a family. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg for how we (and I) try to maintain balance. I also try to read at least four or five books a month that aren’t e-books or downloaded on my electronic device. It helps to remember that content wasn’t always on a screen.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

Know Your Role…

The traditional definition of being a “creative” is dead.

2001 Meets Planet of the Apes

Professionals and passionates in fields from nonprofit fundraising to sports celebrity, now describe themselves as being “creative.”
Being a “creative” has been co-opted by tech innovators and entrepreneurs.
The term has gradually transformed in meaning from defining those who toil at creating a sculpture, a painting, a drawing or a photograph to encompass anyone who is moderately skilled at being an outlier at what they are doing.
Marketers call themselves “creatives.” So do corporate executives.
Entertainers describe themselves as “creative” and even the RedBull Flutaug participants describe themselves as being a “creative” force for daring to do the impossible.
We might have made up that last part…
As a firm whose owner and founder has a background in the fine arts and who developed a former practice that involved design, color, line texture, emotional impact, subtlety and message, we wonder, here at Human Services Consulting and Training, how long will it take for everyone to describe themselves—and the work that they do—as “creative?”
We aren’t wondering to pick a fight or out of a pique, but instead are focused on a reality: In a world that is increasingly tolerant, supportive and mindful of the great impact of “the weird” (which is what being a “creative” used to be all about) where is the room for those who are in conflict with the “creative?”
What happens when the person who doesn’t view their role in an organization as being “creative” (but instead views it as being “just something I ‘do’ from 8-4 or 9-5 to pay my rent”) gets into a disagreement with those who view EVERY role as having the potential to be “creative?”
This is an expanded version of our article (link here) about who will hire the jerks and the bullies in a world where “the weird” is tolerable and the people who seek to limit or hold it back are socially (and sometimes legally) sanctioned.
How do you empower those who do not believe that their actions and lives have a drop of possibility of being “creative” in an organization, a society or a culture and give them the tools to describe themselves, their roles and their lives as “creative?”
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

Guest Blogger Ruth Gray: The Bigger Picture

In general, when we think about creative people, we often do not think about conflict. 
We sometimes assume that emotions in an artist are expressed through whatever medium they have chosen, and to a certain degree this may be true. However, conflict comes to the artist and creative as surely as it does to the executive and team leader. 

The fine artist Ruth Gray of Ruth Gray Images: Anything But Grey–has been among our followers via Twitter for the entire time that we have been building Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT). 

Her studio, Ruth Gray Images out of Derbyshire, United Kingdom ( focuses on landscape painting influenced by the landscapes of the United Kingdom as well as Australia.
We here at HSCT have a fondness for artists (after all, our principal conflict consultant, Jesan Sorrells has a background in printmaking and drawing) and we believe in a creative, collaborative approach to the conflicts in life. 
Please welcome our guest blogger, Ruth Gray.
Waiting for the Bus Market Place Ripley

Waiting for the Bus Market Place Ripley

My name is Ruth Gray I am a fine artist I have been painting for over ten years professionally and like any job, for being an artist is a job, I have to interact with many other businesses and contacts before I make that magical sale! Conflict is something you can encounter everyday as an artist and my way of dealing with conflict is to always think of the ‘bigger picture.’
The ‘bigger picture’ that I refer is the length you would like your career to be whether you are an artist like me trying to sell pictures or a newly set up retail business. You have to decide how you will handle each conflict. 
For example if a rival artist in your locality decides to change their modus operandi to be similar to yours and you feel it could have a knock on effect to your sales margins do you bad mouth that artist or think of ways of complimenting each other and collaborating? 
I know which I would do! Collaboration brings many more opportunities for future projects and opens doors you previously had no idea about how to unlock.  I am part of a few art associations and work alongside other artists at events and exhibitions and each decision I make is a big picture decision always thinking carefully about sharing and giving rather than taking and gaining.  
Projects currently:
Ruth Gray Images Fine Art Landscapes – Anything But Grey.
Flourish Exhibition airarts aid to wellbeing Royal Derby Hospital: Now until Feb 2014.
The Ripley Rattlers Exhibition: DH Lawrence Museum June 2014.


 -Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

Why So “Serious?”

Amid the theater and drama surrounding the very real conflict around the 2013 government shutdown, the Affordable Health Care Act implementation and other events in Washington DC, we are a little surprised here at HSCT to hear one word fall consistently from our government leaders’ lips:



As in, “I won’t negotiate without serious reform on the table.”


“I won’t talk to [Insert name of politician/political party here] until they make a serious offer for change.”

Now, part of our role here at HSCT is to teach people how to negotiate. We teach how to navigate stonewalling, interests, judgments about the future, risk tolerance, and time preference. In addition, we cover lessons around framing, communication and the use of deceptive tactics.

We’re also not naïve to the whims and modes of American political history and realize that there have been “budget battles” in Washington DC that looked intractable, but that eventually produced workable compromises between governing parties.

However, nowhere in our training or in our experiences, were we ever taught to not negotiate until the other party became “serious” and made an offer we could live with before beginning the bargaining process.

This all kind of puts us in mind of The Joker in The Dark Night .

He didn’t want to negotiate until Batman was “serious” either. And yet, somehow, negotiations (such as it were in the film) moved forward anyway.

And that’s what has us so surprised.

After all of the bluffing, deception, and everything else, we are absolutely sure that the debt ceiling, the government shutdown and the Affordable Health Care Act implementation will be resolved one way or another.

But, when people in power harden their positions—as do their followers, the pundits and the casual observers—the chances that, to paraphrase from The Joker “everything burns,” become that much more possible.

Why then, is there such emphasis on “serious?”

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

Creativity Flows

6:30 am: The alarm goes off announcing the beginning of a new day. I roll over and hit “dismiss” and try to gain a few more winks. But I’m winking in vain.

Chinese Proverb

6:45 am: The legs swing off the bed and I wrap myself in a blanket and head to my prayer closet for an hour. Get The One perspective on the day before putting in any other perspectives.
7:30 am: The wife rolls over and wakes up. We talk for fifteen minutes about the day ahead, how much we love each other and then she jumps up to put the kid on the bus.
7:45 am: The shower is hot, the shaving razor’s cold and it stings. This is the time when the Android begins to shake, vibrate and blip at me with incoming messages. The world is waking up.
8:15 am: Go downstairs and start coffee. Have an apple while passing through the office to boot up the computer.
8:30 am: The coffee starts to make me vibrate as the email, texting, Tweeting, Facebooking, LinkedIn connecting and other nonsense starts in earnest on my end. I also begin my “to-do” list for the day.
9:45 am: Content creation, workshop preparation and research, speech writing begins. This will go in fits and starts, intermittently with checking email and responding to LinkedIn posts and comments, throughout the day.
11:45 am: Go to the radio and hit the POWER button. Start the talk radio going. It makes the day pass by and I get all these different perspectives from what I’m intermittently reading on Drudgereport.
1:45 pm: Lunch. And keep working on projects. Phone calls begin now. Always call in the afternoon because I hate to be bothered in the morning as a business owner and I project my neuroses on others. Monday and Wednesday, cold calling; Tuesday and Thursday, warm calling; Friday no calling.
3:45 pm: Kids start walking in the door. Whole day now enters “Swiss Cheese” mode, pockmarked by homework requests, TV requests, videogame requests, food/snack requests, wife requests, calls back from potential clients (if I’m lucky) or more work on content creation for the next day.
5:45 pm: Time to think about fixing dinner.
6:30 pm: Fix dinner because the two people under four feet tall are about to eat each other and the taller peoples above four feet tall are about to eat each other.
7:15 pm: Dinner hour. Welcome to the goat rodeo:  The one time of the day where I’m a conflict consultant, mediator, father, disciplinarian, husband, Tweeter, and cook’s helper (or, depending on the day, the cook) all at the same time. And at the dinner table.
8:00 pm: Bedtime for those under four feet tall. Let the wrangling into showers, pull-ups, pajamas, beds and cribs begin.
9:15 pm: Go to the gym on Mondays, Wednesdays and maybe Fridays. Or, start to catch up on what was missed during the last two hours on social media, answer late emails, create content for tomorrow and talk to my wife as she sits next to me editing.
11:30 pm: Hit the sack. Set the alarm to do it all again tomorrow.
This is a summary of a day as a conflict consultant.
The days are also randomly broken up when there are meetings to go to, clients to meet, trainings, workshops or speaking engagements to run, deadlines to follow, or crises to address.
Backing up my wife and kids becomes the most important thing above everything and sometimes this leads to nights that stretch into 1am.
Also,  if there is a class, outside employment or another factor to be addressed during the day (for instance, I have to go to work at a retail store as an employee for 4, 6, or 8 hours of the day) then everything shifts back or up.
No day is the “same.”
No day is “normal.”
No day is “average.”
Creativity flows when there is no routine, but no routine.
As the principal conflict consultant here at Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT) I believe in picking yourself as a conflict professional first before a client picks you.
That way you can decide the best client to fit into your routine. Not the other way around.
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:
Facebook: page on Facebook

On the Importance of “Niche-ing” Your Mediation Practice

In the connection economy, building mediation business is easier now than it ever has been before.
If you are a professional mediator, with years of experience, a degree and a healthy on (and off) line social network, you can begin the process of defining success for yourself in an upward direction.
It becomes a little tougher if you only have only one or two of those assets available to you, but the fact of the matter is, if you are starting out in the peace building world, there are any number of business models that you could follow to success.
So, what’s holding back professional mediators from establishing thriving private practices?
Dave Hilton has some ideas about why, and he’s started Rockstar Mediator (link here to get people going.
Neil Denny and Jason Dykstra also have some ideas, so they started Get Artisan (link here and they are doing dynamite work right now in both the US and Europe to get mediators going.
But, what separates them from the community mediation center volunteer or the professional lawyer just “doing mediations” on the side?
The answer is the same as in other industries: A lack of “niche-ing” a mediation practice.
This seems like an obvious step before starting a practice, and in a world where there are divorce, family, child, union, church, corporate, nonprofit, medical, education and even pet mediators, “niche-ing” shouldn’t be a problem.
However, we here at HSCT still run into many mediators starting their practices with the kiss of death statement of “I don’t want to turn away anybody. I think that my talents, skills and passions are for everybody.”
Unfortunately, this inability to say “no,” to fire a client who doesn’t follow through, or just to actively say in a brochure, on a website, or even in a blog, what you are for and what you will not tolerate, causes the failure rate of 95% in the first year for most professional mediators in private practice.
How do you “niche” successfully?
  • Say “no.”
  • Don’t accept just “any” client.
  • Be clear in contracts and follow through on the language.
  • Say “yes” to yourself before anyone else says “yes” to your services, approach, personality, etc.
  • Don’t do a job for free that would be charged for under your fee rates later.
Then, you too can be the next Kathleen Bartle (, Denise Coggiola (, or even Victoria Pynchon (

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

Time is the Problem…

…well, not really time, but our perception of time.

Which is generated from some pretty high level activity going on in separate spots in our cerebral cortex, cerebellum and basal ganglia.
So, getting back to the example of Sue, James and Harriet from Wednesday (here
) where James had what appeared to be a positive response, or consequence, to some pretty harsh comments that Sue said to Harriet.
Our perception of the passage of time colors our perception of events, because Harriet held onto her information before releasing it to James. Probably, based upon the actions of her suprachiasmatic nuclei, she thinks that she held on for “a while.”
Which is one of the reasons why gossip (which lies at the root of many conflicts generated by third party actions) is so corrosive: Holding onto it gives Harriet the feeling of power and the more time she holds onto it, the more power she may feel as though she has.
Now, for James, time works differently. In his mind, a lot (or a little) time has passed between what Sue said and when he heard it from Harriet. In his mind, a determination takes place, formulated as a question: “Has enough time passed between the making of the comments and the hearing of them that I do or don’t have to respond? And what should my response be?”
All because of time.
There is short time thinking (about something that just happened) and long time thinking (about family history) and the human brain does an excellent, though not really well understood, job of differentiating between the two.
In a conflict (or in a potential confrontation), time means everything:
  • NOW is a moment where a response can either happen immediately or not so much;
  • LATER is a moment to which a response may be delayed;
  • THEN is a moment that has already passed.
But the emotional residue that time exacerbates can serve to create more conflict, and more consequence, not less.
Thinking about how we think about time, consequences and whether to react or respond can help us avoid further conflict and help us generate actionable solutions.

-Peace Be With You All-

Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT:

Equal and Opposite

“If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” – Sir Isaac Newton
Newton’s third law of classical mechanics states: “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction to that of the first body.”
Standing on the Shoulders of Giants
For every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction.
Well, maybe in classical mechanics and physics. But in the world of personal and professional conflicts, consequences don’t work that way.
Case in point:

  • Sue talks about James behind his back to Harriet (action)
  • James never hears about it, because Harriet doesn’t think Sue’s analysis is on the ball.
  • Many years later, James hears about Sue’s comments from Harriet in the office and laughs (reaction).

Most of us would not characterize James’ response equal or opposite. 
We would call it mature and reasonable based upon where it occurs (in the office), or immature and dismissive (at a party); and the context under which it occurs, at a corporate meeting (while sober) versus at a private dinner party (while intoxicated). 
The thing that flummoxes us as people in conflict is the problem of our perspective on time.

Consequences (reactions) upon a body in classical mechanics occur, from the researchers’ perspective, almost immediately in the physical world.

However, in a conflict, minutes, hours, days, months, and even years can pass between the trigger of a conflict and the actual conflict scenario itself (reaction) in the abstract world.

Abstraction versus the physical: Both of them require appropriate preparation to address consequences of actions. 
However, understanding the others’ identity, the others’ perspective, the others’ worldview and the others’ response is incredibly important in responding to the consequences of a conflict regardless of whenthe consequence occurs.
Ok, so what do we do about time?
-Peace Be With You All-
Jesan Sorrells, MA
Principal Conflict Engagement Consultant
Human Services Consulting and Training (HSCT)
Email HSCT: