When Crisis Hits…

Hey, it’s Kira the Conflict Coach, with a 2-Minute Conflict Coaching Soundbite. Today I’m talking about one thing that you can do when you’re feeling very tense and stressed out, due to a lot of change or crisis going on in your life. See, oftentimes when there is a lot of change or you’re in a crisis mode, your body is very very tense you may be releasing dangerous hormones like cortisol and you also will start to ruminate and replay in your mind over and over all of the difficult things that are happening and that you’re facing. So, […]

Coronavirus & Conflict: When Anxiety Leads to Outbursts

For the past few weeks, and increasingly over the past few days, Mary Ellen* hasn’t been able to get much work done. She’s been irritable, edgy, and has a growing sense of panic. She can’t seem to focus — her mind is racing in ways that are uncomfortable. And the more she thinks about her lack of focus, the more anxious she gets. The last few days have been even worse. She’s been working from home, and her kids now have school closures. Her husband has been distant, not pitching in as much as she’d like — the house is […]

The Emerging Frontier in Consulting: Heart-Driven Leadership

Years ago, I first met and took my first training session with the noted mediator, author, and trainer Ken Cloke. To meet him, get to know him a little and receive training from him, coupled with complementary training and life experience for me at the same time, really helped open the doors to my whole orientation to the field. This exposure truly expanded my life, in general. Without knowing it, Ken helped give me permission to dive into my heart as deeply as I could in mediation, consulting, coaching, and even in dealing with my associates in the construction business […]

20/20 Perspective in 2020

Our new initiative: #2020Perspectivein2020 As we enter this new decade in 2020, the Harmony Strategies Group is excited to share a new initiative with our readers, followers, and clients: 20/20 Perspective in 2020! Each month this year, we will be publishing articles, quotes, video links around a specific theme or idea, for you to ponder and apply in your daily lives. We highlight specific themes and issues that typically arise during or affect conflict, along with tools for better communicating and handling the challenges. Our goal is to enrich your conflict management and communication skills, leading to more meaningful and […]

What I Learned at NYC-SHRM

Last Friday, I introduced Harmony Circles to a packed room of Human Resource professionals from all across New York City. I had been invited to speak at the NYC-SHRM conference, to introduce some key concepts from the world of ADR (alternative dispute resolution), as they apply to business settings. ADR has been gaining attention and impact in many spheres of American life, and I was excited to contribute to its application in the business world, by way of discussing a unique application in the workspace. A few hours before I spoke, Johnny C. Taylor Jr. challenged the crowd with a fascinating […]

The 3 Most Important Communication Skills for Business Leaders

As a Conflict & Communication Consultant, I am often asked my opinion on the most important skills that a manager needs, in order to inspire and lead effectively. Since each individual company and team will have its own flavor and style, you might think it nearly impossible to come up with skills that hold across industries, across teams, and across cultures. But in my experience, there are three skills that any manager would need, no matter which company, location, or industry she is in. These skills are what leaders require in order to be truly effective and drive innovation, collaboration, […]

The Magic of Harmony Circles

I came upon the idea of Harmony Circles* by chance. I hadn’t expected Harmony Circles to take over my practice and become my passion-project. I thought it was just another hippie idea, the newest fad. But once I witnessed and experienced a few Circles, it was clear that there was no denying the fact: Harmony Circles are the most effective, efficient, and flat-out enjoyable way to create a sense of community, responsibility, and belongingness. They foster healthy listening and compassionate relationships overnight. They can be applied to enhance employee relations, boost innovation, or build trust to get past conflicts. They […]

The Most Important 4 Words

Most of us coast through life – get an education, have a career, get together with friends and family, get old and pass on. We enjoy ups and downs, achievements and failures. It’s normal. It’s human. Life is beautiful and sad and rich. And some of us have especially difficult challenges along our journey – we face illnesses, unemployment, addictions, and crises that we had never imagined. No matter what your journey looks like, there are 4 special words that will get you and those you love to a richer, deeper life experience. These words will shape your character, define […]

The Secret to Networking (That Gets Results!)

I recently attended a business networking event at which there was a palpable common thread: Nobody wanted to be there. I heard things like, “I hate networking events, but I figured I’d give it a shot,” and “I know this is how I’m supposed to market myself, so it’s a necessary evil.” One woman was an introvert and felt uncomfortable in crowds. Another expressed that she was exhausted at the end of a long day. So if no one wanted to be there, why did they come? Is it really the right way to get ahead? What do we get […]

What My Chemistry Teacher Taught Me About Conflict

In high school, I had a fantastic chemistry teacher, Mrs. B, who was driven to inspire us with a love of learning. We were a crowd of honors students, and she seemed to bare her soul to us, through her passion for chemistry. In her commitment to challenge us in our scientific growth, she served as a role model for what teaching can and should be. And it only occurred to me recently that although my career has little to do with chemistry (aside from interpersonal “chemistry,” as a metaphor for love relations), she imparted a wisdom that I use […]

Conflict Coaching for Breakthroughs

I love drama. When I was a child, I dreamt of being an actress – and I pursued that line until I found another way of engaging my flair and passion for drama: as a conflict and communication strategist. I tell friends that every time I mediate, it’s like Judge Judy meets Geraldo – I’m just waiting for somebody to pick up on this for a reality tv show. I’ve been in the room where people are suing each other essentially because one stopped sleeping with the other. I’ve seen divorced parents dispute who should pay their child’s medical expenses, […]

Centered Mindfulness

Getting Centered

About 15 years ago, I was headed to a life-changing event and was extremely anxious and nervous. I knew I had to be at peak-performance, and I turned to friends who were older and more experienced than me, for advice. One particular friend introduced me to a mindfulness/meditative practice that has been literally life-changing. I don’t think there’s a term for it, although it seems similar to the idea of a personal mantra. For the purposes of sharing the idea with others, let’s just call it a “Centering Word”. The idea behind the Centering Word is to find a term, […]

Problem Solving

How to (un)solve problems

We face many decisions, challenges, and problems every day. From choosing our clothes, to our deadlines, to our children’s meals, we have to make myriad decisions in our lives. Most of these decisions (nay, all of them, if you ask an anthropologist) are driven by, informed by, and/or affect those around us. We have to keep in mind everyone else’s interests, when we make our decisions. Those of us in leadership positions, from CEOs to parents, from non-profit lay leaders to board members, have even more decisions we need to make. And these decisions all involve many parties, affecting thousands […]

The Case for Mediating Small Claims

An elderly lady is screaming at her adversary across the table. She’s calling the defendant names, threatening him, pounding on the table, and otherwise acting clearly outraged. She brings up his character – he is a liar and a thief, and she hopes he will suffer greatly from his abuse of her. The final agreement, mutually agreed-upon in mediation, without a judge? A mere $100 to settle the dispute. Parties go home relatively satisfied and ready to move on. How is this possible? Was the entire scene necessary for just $100? Neither party appeared desperate for this money. So why […]

Managing the Difficult Task of Firing an Employee

Handling Difficult Conversations

A friend in human resources recently shared with me that the toughest part of her new job is when she has to fire/let go of an employee. She can handle long-hours, neurotic personalities, and even an angry or belittling comment, but being the “bad guy” and bearer of bad-news feels jarringly wrong. Unfortunately, this is an integral part of her job, so she reluctantly does what needs to be done. But she doesn’t enjoy it and wishes there were someone else, or another way, to do it. Human resource professionals primarily focus on the soft-side of business. They help train […]

Children Thinking Fast and Slow

Reading Thinking Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman is a game-changer for parents and caregivers. The book shares a radical way of conceiving how we process information, based on decades of psychological research conducted by the author and his partner. The key principle is this: we have two primary ways of thinking: fast and slow. • Fast thinking is based on schemas we have built in our minds: patterns of what we have experienced and therefore expect, without really “thinking” too much. Examples are: driving to a place we visit often (school, work, grocery store, etc.), brushing our teeth in […]