Inside Out Washington
October 2020 – February 2021
[Our clients] annoy us, exasperate us, drive us as crazy as they drive each other. We judge them, fear them, dread seeing them again. Or we find that we’re naturally siding with one of them and worry that our feelings are blinding us. And when we don’t yet know how to use these feelings for the Clients’ benefit, we often try to slam the door shut and pretend they’re not there. We spend our attention not on the client but on trying to be in control, struggling to “act professional” and stay cool, hoping to steer away from the
emotional minefield altogether.
Many of us are drawn to Collaborative Practice and/or Mediation because we are burnt out by the personal toll that litigation and the conflictual relationships of traditional practice have taken on us. All of us joined the ranks of consensual conflict resolution professionals as lawyers, mental health practitioners, or financial analysts at least in part because we wanted to help people. For many of us we made this choice to improve our own quality of life. Transitioning to working as a neutral or Collaborative Professional seemed like the answer.
The reality, however, is that sitting in a room with folks in conflict can be an even harder, toll-taking job, as clients face head-on the emotional traps that are at the heart of their conflict. This conflict is filled with difficult, often explosive emotions—emotions that are at the core of the conflict or the impasse to reaching agreement.
We recognize that it’s never only about the money or the item on the agenda and that these emotions would have gone unacknowledged in the traditional legal system. We want to be calm neutral professionals to peacefully guide our clients through those emotions to resolution, but the reality is the turmoil in the room affects us as well as our clients, and we have our own reactions and strong feelings—judgment, anger, the desire to control—often against the very people who we are there to help.
Gary Friedman, one of the pioneers in Mediation, has spent over 40 years developing and honing a dispute resolution practice based on “Understanding in Conflict”, by integrating meditative principles into the practice of law. In his seminal book, Inside Out: How Conflict Professionals Can use Self-Reflection to Help Their Clients, he sets forth a course of action to help us grapple with and move through these emotions to the benefit of ourselves and our clients.
He teaches us that the reactions that we have matter. If we can be honest and human, and not shy away from our fears and reactions, we can help others do the same. Understanding our own inner life by acknowledging the emotions within ourselves, as well as within our clients, helps us to tap into our intuition and use it as a powerful tool to create openings for our clients to bridge the gap between what is happening between the inside and the outside. Gary writes:
Our challenge as professionals is to help [our clients] do both: understand the emotional and practical dimensions of the situation and see the relationship between the two. When the internal and external worlds line, up we can find a way of working together that leads to a solution grounded in what is most important to people—and that also reflects results that will be practicable and workable.
This program is a book-club-in-action. We will explore and hone a skill set that can help us help our clients open a path to deeper understanding of the issues and find genuinely satisfying solutions.
Monthly readings will be put into action as we unpack what understanding in conflict means and learn to recognize and work with the barriers to that understanding. Our Zoom gatherings will include:
- Instruction and practice in self-reflection and journaling
- Discussion about how to integrate the inner experience and outer action
- Skill building by using the actual real-life experiences of the participants
- Peer support through buddy relationships between our Zoom meetings
This 6-month program will culminate in the opportunity to go even deeper with that understanding by participating in a 2-day workshop with Gary Friedman, to be held in person if Covid allows or otherwise through a dynamic program on Zoom.
Join us for an opportunity to change your practice—to change your life.
Check out this link to a video of the first Inside Out Groups’ experience (called a “SCPI” group b Gary, short for Self-Reflection for Conflict Professionals Intensive)
Learn more about Kim Gordon
Agenda: Agenda_Inside Out
Date/Time: 9 am until noon on the following days.
- October 15
- November 5
- December 3
- January 7
- January 28
- February 25
CLE Credits: approved for 16.5 WA CLE credits
Questions: Please contact Nancy Retsinas