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The Game of Dialogue and How it Is Won

Why Are We in This Dialogue?

Not that there is a step-by-step approach on how to conduct every dialogue, but if there was, I believe it would start with asking yourself, “Why are we in this dialogue?”. It may seem strange to say it in such a way, but if nothing else, let us be sure to give critical thought to our intentions, and determine if they support our personal set of values. If our actions support our personal set of values, then we can begin to reasonably consider the intentions of others.

In the business context, it would only be rational for us to ask competing and cooperative forces to communicate their intentions, even if that intention is apparently in opposition of our own. Furthermore, and again, in a business and “real-world” context, we must understand what is truly at stake before choosing to identify others or parties as opposing factors.

Are You Willing to Treat Opposition as Your Friend?

We must know that dialogue can and will foster conflict; and that’s sort of the point if we desire community progress. Would we imagine that Thomas Edison invented the light bulb only on positions that were apparently supporting his own? I do not.

What I’m trying to communicate is that our dialogue and resulting conflicts, may perhaps be the key to our success. In my experience, while listening to apparently opposing points, I recognize that such points are not opposing, but rather in compliment to mine. Furthermore, considering other viewpoints allows us to consider if perhaps we were wrong, which in my opinion, isn’t always a big deal (Until it is, right?).

Thankfully, I have been wrong many times in my life; and many of those times, a seemingly oppositional viewpoint from people that I trust has helped me develop a stronger foundation of what truth really is.

Equity-Based Compromise is the Win (For Stability’s Sake)

My belief is that commonly accepted truth is best found when we are critical of our position within society, and how our actions influence others. Truths can be discovered through dialogue which has the intention of what I call equity-based compromise. These shared truths are the key to stability among opposing factions.

Equity-Based Compromise is a phenomenon in which everyone receives their maximum utility by considering both justice and equality; thus, allowing both parties to demonstrate authentic fairness, or equity, driven by an inherently altruistic sense of utility. By this I mean that fairness is what gives leaders satisfaction! However, I must include that this disputes a world view rejecting the fact that we are interconnected, which I believe all people are. Even though we do not rely on each other, we do influence one another. When we choose equity (authentic fairness) in dialogues, we are creating a world where everyone experiences stability that is provided through cooperation. Of course, some people will exclaim that selfishness and competition is how the natural world works, and I agree. But my truth is that we can work together for a common good, that through dialogue, will be discovered.


A Final Reflection for Conflict Resolution and Dialogue

  • We should consider our motives and intentions
  • We should rejoice in an apparently opposing view for the sake of progress
  • We should continue to consider how our actions influences others
  • We can work together to be agents of stability


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By: Beth Flynn, Wednesday, January 04th, 2023

Happy New Year!  Take a few moments to reflect on the questions posed below.  You have the opportunity to change your life and the impact you have on others.  

  1. “Am I content with my life right now?
  2. Am I happy with the direction I am going?
  3. Do I belong to a meaningful organization?
  4. Am I contributing in a positive way to society?
  5. Am I in meaningful relationships?
  6. Do I contribute to my relationships in a positive way and for the betterment of others?
  7. Have I been successful with my life so far?
  8. Do I have a sense of purpose?
  9. Do I look forward to the future?
  10. Do I feel ashamed in any of the areas listed in the above questions?
  11. Can I be completely open and honest with those around me?
  12. Am I vulnerable and transparent in my closest relationships?
  13. Am I presenting a false self to others?
  14. Do I feel the tendency to wear masks around others?
  15. Are there things I hide from others?
  16. Am I afraid of something in my life coming out into the open?
  17. Are there things in my life I am choosing not to deal with?
  18. Are there things in my life I need to change or get rid of?
  19. Do I feel the need to impress others?
  20. Do I worry about or am I overly concerned with what people think about me (p. 136-137).”

From: Causey, C. (2021). Candor: the secret to succeeding at tough conversations. (e-book edition). Chicago: Northfield Publishing.

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Let's start by defining the term. Dialogue: A discussion between representatives of parties to a conflict that is aimed at resolution” [1]

Maybe we disagree about dinner, how to tie our shoes, or whether the sky is even blue! Regardless of the strife, my mother always remedied any difficult situation among my siblings by urging us to simply “work it out”.

Work it out? How would we do that? With a good ol’ fashioned dialogue!

The discipline of dialogue, as with most behaviors, requires continual practice for improvement. Just like working out at the gym, running, or even stacking hay bales, it gets easier the more you try doing it.

Here a few strategies that I have not yet mastered but have found helpful when engaging in crucial or difficult conversations related to conflict resolution.


Think of the last time you were mad at somebody. So mad that your heart began to race, your ears went red, and your thoughts became crowded with assumptions about the other person. We’re often reluctant to listen to the age-old wisdom of calming the brain with focused breathing, but research shows that even just a few deep breaths can reduce blood pressure, heart rate, and anxiety [2] while increasing your concentration and ability to have a respectful conversation.

Use “I Statements”

A component of respectful conversation is using “I” statements which acknowledge how we are feeling when speaking with someone else; Even if we are talking about how the other person’s actions or behaviors have affected us. An example of this would be “I don’t feel like you are seeing my perspective” as opposed to “you aren’t seeing my perspective”. When using “I” statements, we refrain from making accusations and harness our self-control to confront conflict in a way that is beneficial for everyone involved.

These are simply two strategies that I’ve garnered throughout the years, and like I said, I’m still working on it! An effective leader knows that we always will be. Stay tuned for more conflict resolution dialogue practices!


[1] Merriam-Webster. (n.d.). Definition of dialogue. Retrieved December 13, 2022, from

[2] Magnon, V., Dutheil, F., & Vallet, G. T. (2021). Benefits from one session of deep and slow breathing on vagal tone and anxiety in young and older adults. Scientific Reports, 11(1), 19267.

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The First Steps

So, you’re in a conflict? Is that okay? YES! Because conflict is the precursor of resolution.

There are multiple denotations of “conflict” and “resolution” but for context, I am speaking of one of the Merriam-Webster’s [1][2] definitions provided for conflict and resolution which is that conflict is a “mental struggle resulting from incompatible or opposing needs, drives, wishes, or external or internal demands” and resolution is “to deal with successfully : clear up.”

When seeking resolution, we must have the emotional intelligence to recognize when a conflict arises, and that conflict can lead to negative outcomes which you may or may not have control over.

We control:

  • Our actions
  • Our words
  • Our attitude
  • Our reactions
  • Our volume
  • Our emotions

We do not control:

  • Their actions
  • Their words
  • Their attitude
  • Their reactions
  • Their volume
  • Their emotions

One thing I am learning, is that there is a time and place for finding resolution, and furthermore, we can reduce the number of negative consequences coming from conflict if we evaluate the situation to objectively address the significance of your conflict and the relationship we have with the other person.

That leads to another lesson I’ve learned, and I don’t want to seem contradictive, but sometimes the best resolution to a conflict is letting go of the issue and your pride because at the end of the day, some things just aren’t worth arguing over. Well, that is unless the other people disagree and believes it is worth arguing over. Messy stuff right! 

Source: LinkedInAs shown in the diagram provided by LinkedIn, compromise is the heart of resolution. Compromise being “to come to agreement by mutual concession”. [3] Furthermore, the figure shows that resolution occurs when you ask yourself, “How important is this problem and how much consideration am I giving the other person?” which is required for a successful dialogue between two conflicting parties.

A few of my personal takeaways from this discussion:

  • Recognize when conflict arises
  • Identify how you are responsible for controlling your behavior
  • Before engaging in dialogue ask yourself, “Is this worth it?”


Image Source: LinkedIn

[1]  Definition of conflict. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2022, from

[2] Definition of resolution. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2022, from

[3] Definition of compromise. (n.d.). Retrieved December 1, 2022, from



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Effective mentors are not passive relationship builders, but rather make mentee relationship building an explicit priority. Our best mentors are servant leaders in the way that performance, or occupational objectives, are second to building a legitimate connection with the mentee. [1] A mentor of mine, Minister Aaron from the South Side of Columbus, builds a relationship with me as we spend an equivalent amount of time talking about my personal and career interests. Min. Aaron is a high efficacy example of a mentor because in addition to showing his authentic leadership, he now has pivotal information that can be used when giving future career directions. Think about how our friends can take the role of a mentor when we ask for advice on a topic of common interest. Friends are more equipped to give well-rounded advice because they are aware of our well-rounded self and it’s because of an existing relationship. The same goes for our mentors. Even if the mentor and mentee are not “close friends”, mentee growth is maximized when a mentor makes a legitimate effort to build a relationship with the mentee in question. [2] 

Effective mentors typically have a higher sense of emotional intelligence and are looking to serve the needs of the mentee before their own. [3][4] Moreover, mentors should have a greater focus on the well-being of the mentee. Not just in the sense of well-being in career, but also psychological and physical well-being. Anyone with a greater sense of emotional intelligence will know that individuals such as mentees will not see progress if they are simply “unwell”. A mentor can improve mentee well-being by building a healthy relationship and including comfortable personal subjects and questions into the regularly scheduled dialogue. [1] In fact, this should be a priority, as an increased sense of well-being is an outcome for both mentee and mentor. [5] 

The point: build a relationship with mentees and find mentors to build a relationship with.  


[1] Firzly, N., Chamandy, M., Pelletier, L., & Lagacé, M. (2021). An examination of mentors’ interpersonal behaviors and mentees’ motivation, turnover intentions, engagement, and well-being. Journal of Career Development, 089484532110392. 

[2]Younginer, S. T., & Elledge, L. C. (2021). Mentor personality and attachment as correlates of youth mentoring relationship quality within a school‐based mentoring intervention: The moderating role of negative interactions. Journal of Community Psychology, 49(7), 2569–2589. 

[3] Jenkins, S. (2013). David Clutterbuck, mentoring and coaching. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 8(1), 139–153 

[4] David Clutterbuck. (2005). Establishing And Maintaining Mentoring Relationships: An Overview Of Mentor And Mentee Competencies. SA Journal of Human Resource Management, 3(3). 

[5] Elce, Y. (2021). The mentor-mentee relationship, addressing challenges in veterinary medicine together. Veterinary Clinics of North America: Small Animal Practice, 51(5), 1099–1109. 

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Simply put, mentorship occurs when someone of greater experience intentionally provides direction to a less experienced member of their profession or vocation. A mentor should not be mistaken for a coach as mentorship typically involves a relationship focusing on maximizing mentee career potential overall, wheras coaching focuses on a particular talent or skill. Moreover, the mentor-mentee relationship is typically long-term consisting of a series of dialogues, not just two to three brief interactions.

The duration of a mentoring relationship and the frequency of meetings is ultimately decided by participants involved but it is recommended that mentors and mentees meet no less than once a quarter and no more than three times a month [1]. David Clutterbuck, a prolific writer and researcher of mentorship divides the mentor relationship into five stages, which he has developed as a result of his longitudinal studies on mentorship. These stages being rapport building, direction setting, progress making, maturation and moving on [2]. Understanding these stages maximizes the benefit that both members receive through the partnership and should be explored as you pursue your own mentoring relationships. For example, if you are aware of the first stages being rapport building and direction setting, perhaps having an introductory meeting where you can discuss personal matters and goals with the mentee would be most beneficial. Additionally, knowing the current stage of a mentor relationship gives participants insight regarding how to further develop the relationship, or readjust to meet new goals.

 Clutterbuck also includes that it is the mentor’s responsibility to manage this relationship. In fact, Clutterbuck shares the acronym MENTOR in his first edition of “Everyone Needs a Mentor” to describe the responsibilities of a mentor. M is for managing the relationship. E is for encouraging the mentee. N is for nurturing an open environment for growth. T is for teaching the mentee. O is for offering mutual respect and R is for responding to mentee needs [3]. Simply put, this acronym is a job description for us and the mentors we pursue.

A preliminary investigation should show that mentors are servant leaders looking to develop a mentee via meaningful relationships and career experiences.

“Mentoring is a brain to pick, an ear to listen, and a push in the right direction” – John Crosby


[1] Williams, Z. M. ( 1 ), & Grant, A. ( 2 ). (2012). Be a good mentor. Education for Primary Care, 23(1), 56-58–58.

[2] Jenkins, S. (2013). David Clutterbuck, mentoring and coaching. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 8(1), 139–153

[3] David Clutterbuck. (2005). Establishing And Maintaining Mentoring Relationships: An Overview Of Mentor And Mentee Competencies. SA Journal of Human Resource Management, 3(3).

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Who comes to mind when you think about a mentor? A Parent? A coach? A teacher? Perhaps, a friend? Odds are, you’ve identified someone in your life that has given you seasoned guidance in a field you weren’t as experienced in. Personally, I have multiple mentors for the various facets of my life including both professional and personal endeavors. For example, Mrs. Sherisa Nailor, a rock star agriscience teacher in Cumberland County, Pennsylvania eagerly shares her perspective when I have thoughts, ideas, dreams, and/or concerns related to a potential career as a an agriscience educator. Whereas my friend, Mr. Isaac Brackbill, acts as a mentor when I seek his advice on how to improve my guitar playing capabilities.

Our mentors, including the ones I just mentioned serve us in various capacities and come in multiple forms. Nonetheless, the best of our mentors possesses certain characteristics. Over the next few weeks, we will explore the traits exhibited by premier mentors as I dive into expert information and provide you with context from my own life to act as support and evidence. The purpose behind such exploration is to develop a deeper understanding of first, what it takes to select a good mentor and secondly, be a good mentor.

Before continuing, I challenge you to revisit the question that I began this statement with. Who comes to mind when you think of a mentor? Moreover, what comes to mind when you think of a mentor? The most zealous of us will jot these answers on a piece of paper to compare findings. Stay tuned as I look forward to mapping out the methods of mentorship with you!

“A mentor is someone who allows you to see the hope inside yourself” -Oprah Winfrey

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By: Beth Flynn, Tuesday, March 02nd, 2021
  1. “Provides frequent feedback. Employees (especially younger ones) live in a world where most feedback is instantaneous. They expect it and will wilt and underperform without it.
  2. Generates opportunities for reality advice. We all have blind spots – weaknesses that we don’t see in ourselves – and reality advice helps your employees to grow in self-awareness.
  3. Offers encouragement. Strong leaders often forget to praise and encourage those who report to them. Coach and connect provides an opportunity to encourage your team.
  4. Builds relationships. Even though you may work together all day, you might not discuss the most important things that motivate your team members. 
  5. Fosters career advice and mentorship. Coach and Connect is the time when you can pass on what you’ve learned to someone else, helping them grow to be better employees and human beings (269-270).”

From: Throness, T. (2017). The power of people skills: how to eliminate 90% of your hr problems and dramatically increase team and company morale and performance. Wayne, NJ: Career Press.

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By: Beth Flynn, Tuesday, February 16th, 2021

“Paradoxically, in our age of constant communication, the raw material of conversation has actually disappeared: listening. Genuine, real listening is a rare commodity and a great gift, because you are giving to the person you are listening to your most valuable asset: your attention.

Here are a few suggestions of how to do it right, based on the communication technique ‘active listening’ devised by Carl Rogers and Richard Farson in 1957.

  • Listen, don’t talk. Resist talking about yourself. If they are talking about troubles they are having at work, don’t tell them you hate your job. It’s never the same. All experiences are individual. And, more importantly, it’s not about you.
  • Don’t finish the other person’s… Some people have a tendency of impatiently finishing the sentence or thought of the person they are talking to. Although very slow thinking and talking can be irritating, don’t interrupt, even if you think it might show empathy.
  • Your body language says a lot. Look the other person in the eye – but don’t stare. Nod – but only if you want to agree with what they are saying or show that you have understood something important.
  • Notice the little things. Listen out for details in what they are saying and pick up on these later. This makes it easier to ask questions (‘You mentioned that you spent a lot of time as a child at your grandmother’s – what kind of relationship did you have with her?’). And it lets the other person know that you were really listening.
  • Be a friend, not a judge. Resist the impulse of giving the other person advice – unless of course they specifically ask for it. Instead, take the conversation back to an exciting, important part of the story (p. 86-88).”

From: Krogerus, M., & Tschappeler, R. (2018). Translated by: Piening, J., & Jones, L. The communication book: 44 ideas for better conversations every day. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

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“We talk about the heart every day. It’s part of our natural vocabulary. For thousands of years, we have spoken of it as more than just a pump. But have you ever really thought about what it means? When we say somebody spoke from the heart, it means they spoke with meaning, insight, and sincerity. Or that the deeper reality of each of us is reflected when we’re following our heart.

That is why we say that the heart of the matter is always a matter of the heart, and that the four universal principles live within the heart, arranged in matching pairs above and below a central line. They are the deeper reality of our character, our thinking, and our behavior. They are a source of insight and clarity about how we each work, love, and live. Understanding what is happening in somebody else’s heart is how we feel compassion or empathy.

Love is our greatest need. Rejection is our greatest fear. We spend our lives seeking love and avoiding rejection. As John Lennon once said, ‘There are two basic motivating forces: fear and love. When we are in love, we open to all that life has to offer with passion, excitement, and acceptance.’ We feel these two drivers in our own behavior and recognize them in the behavior of others. If we can grasp this wisdom, it will guide us to effective life relationships and successful leadership (p. 57-58).”

From: Klemich, S. & Klemich, M. (2020). Above the line: living and leading with heart. New York: Harper Business

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