Dispute Resolution Symposium provides negotiation and communication strategies

Thursday, May 3, 2018
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Photo Credit: Cameron Woodcock
Triad Consulting Group founder Douglas Stone delivers the 2018 Dispute Resolution Symposium keynote address.

Following a successful first year, the Second Annual Dispute Resolution Symposium drew a near 50-person turnout and convened several thought leaders at Suffolk University Law School on May 2.

The conference was attended by a diverse range of professionals, namely users, practitioners, researchers and academics, all of whom learned useful negotiation and communication strategies to apply to their own cases.

Triad Consulting Group founder Douglas Stone delivered this year’s keynote address, during which he spoke from his years of experience as a mediation specialist for many large organizations, including Honda, HP, IBM, Microsoft, Shell and the Boston Rape Crisis Center. 

As part of his remarks, Stone touted the advantages of the “third story” approach to dispute resolution, in which both parties describe their disagreement in neutral, agreed-upon language that also “doesn’t obscure that there’s a conflict.” Generally speaking, Stone said mediators should encourage candor from their clients, but also be proactive about rephrasing loaded questions in favor of more constructive alternatives. 

In one exercise, Stone asked conference participants to recall a time when they dealt with someone entirely unwilling to consider another point of view, try to pinpoint the root cause of the person’s behavior, and then devise a strategy that could have mitigated the situation.

“Difficult conversations are not about facts,” said Stone, who co-authored the New York Times bestsellers "Difficult Conversations" and "Thanks for the Feedback." “They’re not about ‘what does the contract say?’ They’re about ‘what does the contract mean?’”

The symposium was sponsored by the MBA’s Dispute Resolution Section, and co-chaired by Brian R. Jerome, Esq., of Massachusetts Dispute Resolution Services; and Sarah E. Worley, Esq., of Sarah E. Worley Conflict Resolution PC.