[Advice] Re/Solution

What’s going to be on the test?

Is this going to work out?

What can we get here?

Who benefits?

All questions that revolve around what is commonly known as resolution. Some in psychology call it closure, but really it’s the mental and emotional process of getting a definitive answer that “ties off” any loose ends.

Narrative structures such as novels, films, short stories, all rely on an ending that is “settled.” Even when we talk about data and research—areas that should have nothing to do with a narrative, but are merely reflections of the world as we have objectively tested it—we use the phrase lately “the science is settled.

Yeah. Ok. So why are we still arguing?

The problem is not closure, an answer, an end to a narrative or even getting other parties to agree. The problem inherent in all of this phraseology and narrative structure around conflict is two-fold:

  • We are framing our arguments, negotiations, mediations, and litigations, in the language of closure and resolution, when in reality we are selfishly seeking a way for us to win, and for the other party to lose. Rather than chasing a “lose-lose” outcome, this is a corollary to the idea that we seek an answer—or a conclusion—that matches our worldview, which is the best one, or else it wouldn’t be our worldview.
  • We are seeking a manipulation, not of facts, but of other people whose ideas, positions, and interests we find to be distasteful, disagreeable, or just downright wrong. We seek to shut “the other” up, raise our own perspective up and devalue the other party, all in one fell rhetorical swoop.

When we seek to disconnect, rather than connect, and to ignore rather than understand; when we seek to replace the value already provided in an experience with the value we would rather the experience have; when we seek to judge rather than to educate; we aren’t looking to get to resolution.

We are merely seeking a solution.

Earbud_U, Season Four, Episode # 5 – Dana Caspersen

 [Podcast] Earbud_U, Season Four, Episode # 5 – Dana Caspersen, Dancer, Conflict Specialist, Author, Performance Facilitator



The results of our conflicts, disagreements, differences of opinion and more are manifest not only in our lives, but also are captured in our physical bodies.

Structural violence, social justice, and where is all of this exactly in the individual’s body?

Our guest today on the show, Dana Caspersen, is a conflict specialist, author, dancer, and performing artist.

Her work focuses on empowering people to transform conflict from the inside: changing the conversation by changing their own actions and approach.

Dance is not something that I know anything about. Sure, my daughter does dance. And I’ve done some dancing in the past. And my wife likes to go dancing.

But that’s just the rantings of a dilettante who knows nothing about the process of art. Kind of like a weekend painter or a casual sculpture.

Dana has written a book about all of this, including how implicit biases live in the way that the body moves. It’s the mind-body connection where a lot of the outcomes of conflict live at.

And we all do performances so that we don’t have to listen to each other, much less our own selves…

Here’s the thing though: Violence captured in bodies ends up leading to violent lives.

And even if there isn’t any overt physical violence, the toll that stress takes on a body in conflict is manifest in the ways that we walk, talk, and carry ourselves.

None of this is easy to talk about, much less recognize, which is why Dana does the work that she does, and why she wrote the book that she wrote.

Dance, movement, conflict, and systemic violence.

All elements that meet in a miasma of conflicting ideas that continuously crash around us.

Whether we are consciously aware of it…or not….

Connect with Dana through all the ways you can below:

Dana’s Tedx Talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WfQeH3092Sc

Dana Caspersen’s Website: http://danacaspersen.com/

Dana on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DanaCaspersen/

Dana on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/dana-caspersen-99243827

Dana on Twitter: https://twitter.com/danacaspersen

Dana Caspersen’s YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCCpuYD5HgcyW3MxvPxNL5YA

Knotunknot Documentary: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJ39dpZMNmw

2 Reviews of Dana’s Book:

[Opinion] The Non-Negotiables

There are non-negotiable issues in a conflict.

But a lot of those issues are determined to be non-negotiable by the parties involved in the conflict.

If a party decides that their emotions are the only driver that matters, and that they aren’t going to put those emotions away, for the sake of getting to a deal, then that party’s emotions are non-negotiable.

If a party decides that other parties who aren’t at the table (i.e. outsiders, colleagues, an audience, etc.,) are the ones that are going to control how the negotiation goes, then those outside actors become non-negotiable elements.

If a party decides that their current mood (which can change, day-to-day, moment-to-moment) is the only mood that matters (because, well, it’s their mood) then that decision becomes non-negotiable.

We often think of everything as being negotiable, which is not the same sentiment as “Everyone has a price” or “Everyone can be bought.” Many things, issues, positions, and interests are indeed negotiable. But the problem is, each party decides what’s on the table—and what isn’t.

What makes this decision particularly sticky is that moods, emotions, relationships with other parties not at the table, and many other non-negotiable elements of a negotiation process, involve recognizing the impact of identity, story, and meaning.

And who really wants to negotiate their identity, story, or meaning with a party, whom they automatically have framed as untrustworthy before the negotiation even began?

The skills of persuasion, evasion, coercion, facilitation, and active listening, are often discounted in the rush to close a deal. But those skills become crucial ones for negotiators to value and practice.

Honing the craft of negotiation is more than about sitting in a room and role-playing a case study. Honing the craft of negotiation is about developing intuition, patience, rapport, and caring along with those other skills, in order to get the best possible outcome.

Which usually just means, “The outcome that works best for me, right now.”

[Advice] Intentional Anchoring

The first sentence in a discussion anchors the rest of the conversation.

“I need him to shut up.”

“I don’t like what’s happening here.”

“She doesn’t know what she’s talking about.”

“The fact that we’re focusing on this issue is crazy.”

“They don’t know what they are talking about.”

“Who’s in charge here?”

“I’m in charge here.”

The first sentence of a blog post, the first sentence of an online status update, the first sentence of an email does the same thing.

In a negotiation, this tactic is called anchoring. It’s the process of putting an idea into another party’s mind about a topic of discussion, and then using that initial idea to push or pull the other party in a particular direction.

There is verbal and nonverbal anchoring. Anchoring occurs with signs and symbols. Anchoring happens when parties speak and when they are silent. Anchoring happens with body language.

People perform anchoring all the time, mostly unintentionally, but occasionally, someone “gets” it and intentionally chooses their words carefully and judiciously for maximum effect. And with the purpose of generating maximum conflict.

In any negotiation—along with management, facilitation, mediation, arbitration, or litigation—of a conflict, the person who establishes the anchor first has a greater chance to do better than the person who doesn’t. In this context “doing better” just means “getting an outcome that works for me.”

What outcome are you dropping an anchor for?

HIT Piece 9.27.2016

Conflict is the process of change.

No great change—not one—happens without conflict.

The key is not to fear conflict (which many of us do) but to manage it.

Many people are afraid in times of great change because they aren’t offered a vision for what the change will bring, nor are they offered the courage to look the change in the eye.

The role of statesmen, leaders, and even executives used to be to provide assurances to the masses of people that the conflict would be manageable, that the outcomes (or changes) would be beneficial, and that the future would be positive.

Those roles stand empty now, and thus it is up to us to choose individually: A past state of supposed peace we cannot return to, or a future state that we need courage, clarity, and candor to get to.

There are no more statesmen and leaders “over there” anymore.

Which is good.

Because, they’re right here.

[Strategy] On Truth and Reconciliation

There’s truth.

There’s reconciliation.

Rarely do you get both of them together.

This isn’t to say that parties seeking reconciliation are engaging in deceitful behavior or lying to gain an outcome that benefits them in a conflict process. But we are all selfish and no more so than when we can see the light at the end of the tunnel of conflict.

This isn’t also to say that parties seeking truth are engaging in behavior that will prolong conflicts and make them worse. But we are all myopic when our needs aren’t met around core values—like getting to the truth of a matter.

Just because you get the truth from the other party in conflict about their motives, their moods, their inner drives, or the outcomes they want, doesn’t mean that you’re going to get reconciliation.

And just like resolution, reconciliation may just be as hard to arrive at.

[Opinion] The Bigots Among Us

It is easy to dismiss ideas that we don’t agree with, that we find to be repulsive, or that downright offend us.

It is easy to dismiss ideas that we believe are damaging, could lead to cycles of violence, or that we believe are fearful.

It is easy to dismiss ideas that we think are regressive, oppressive, or not progressive enough for us to engage with based on our worldview.

And increasingly, and even more disturbingly, it is easier for us to dismiss the existence of people in the culture who hold these ideas.

But, as it turns out, the people holding ideas that make us afraid and angry, or that we think are stupid or retrograde, are the ones that work next to us sweeping floors, washing dishes, taking out the trash, and sometimes even counting our change back to us at the grocery store.

This is a real problem, because there’s no way to eliminate all the people who think differently than we do. There’s no real way to completely and categorically scrub every idea that we find offensive from the public square. The only option really, is to socially sanction the people with the ideas enough so that they shut up…and go away.


Those people are still going to have children.

Those people are still going to have houses.

Those people are still going to have to pay the bills.

Those people are still going to want to contribute to society and culture.

Those people are still going to work.

And when a culture links holding a preferred set of ideas to advancing economically, socially, and culturally in that culture; and, when there are some people who just think differently, that culture is not long for freedom, and is approaching a soft form of tyranny.

Which has always hardened in the not-so-distant historical past.

[Strategy] Facilitating-as-a-Sales Process

The skills required to facilitate training for an audience with content that wasn’t developed by the facilitator, are the same skills sale people practice every day:

Persuasion: Since a facilitator doesn’t create the presentation content (or product) they are facilitating (just like the sales person doesn’t create the product they sell door-to-door), the skills of persuasion through using influence in the room, is critical for success. The facilitator must use all the skills of persuasion their fingertips to get the “customer” to buy the product. Yes, the audience already “bought” the product by being there physically. But just like children in school, you have to “re-earn” their attention caring and awareness, rather than taking it for granted.

Body language: Sales people know that confidence, body language, and silence combined with active listening (more on this one below), can help close the sale in a face-to-face encounter. Facilitators need to keep this in mind. Particularly, when facilitating content with which they are not familiar. A facilitator with none of those traits, just like a sale person with none of those traits, can stumble and fall in the room.

Active listening: Facilitators should listen more that they talk. This is easy when the facilitator has developed the product they are facilitating. It’s hard when facilitators haven’t developed the product they are facilitating. The problems compound when they don’t believe the content itself. The first person to listen and react to the content should be the facilitator. But not in the room. Not in front of the audience. And not when the audience pushes back and disagrees, asserts themselves, or engages in conflict with the content.

With all this being said, the facilitator should remember, above all else, that the work is on the line in the room, not the facilitator as a sales person.

[Advice] Self-Awareness, Altruism, and Critical Reasoning

As people choose the messages that they will receive and believe, does self-awareness, critical reasoning, and altruism matter?

  • There are people in the United States who have no idea that conflicts between police and African American communities are raging.
  • There are people in the United States who have no idea who’s running for President, or why, even as November 8th approaches.
  • There are people who are unaware that there are celebrity divorces going on, sports controversies, and other, seemingly ‘low-level’ and ‘unimportant’ cultural conflicts going on right now.
  • There are people who are unaware of the presence of wars (and rumors of wars) in the world today.

When mass media falls apart at scale, and when the historical, cultural, political, and social forces that used to bind disparate populations in the United States together in the last century and a half, no longer matter, can altruism, critical reasoning, and self-awareness matter?

Or, are we returning to a smaller, localized, conflict-ridden past that may be out of our historical memory, but that hews closer to the way people have always interacted?

And the sub-question: Cui bono? Who benefits the most from this seeming cultural return to a baseline we don’t remember?

HIT Piece 9.20.2016

Technology changes are comparatively easy to predict.

The computer.

The fax machine.

The interstellar rocket.

The airplane.

The cell phone.

The drones.

The lie detector.

The biometric scan.

The electric car.

The driverless car.

The internet.

These are just some of the technologies that were developed, conceived, proposed, or prototyped in early to middle part of the last century and now have come to full commercial fruition in our time.

Societal changes based in changing behavior and ideas (economic, social, political, etc.) are less easy to predict.

The rise and fall of cigarette smoking.

Women in the workplace.

Gay marriage.

Minority civil rights.

The illegalization of drug use.

The end of child labor.


The move of manufacturing away from the US.

The rise of globalism.

Mass genocide.

Mass immigration movement.

The rise of religious based radicalism.

The fall of the British Empire.

The rise and fall of Soviet Communism.

Until we can predict how people will use the technology they now have (i.e. Twitter) in conjunction with behavioral changes at the societal level (i.e. Black Lives Matter) to create a future where half of that equation stubbornly refuses to be examined (behavioral changes at the societal level) we will remain blind to future changes, surprised by black swans, and bound to hindsight biases.

And we’ll get no closer to being able to predict the future than we are now.