Conflict, Constructively: Damali Peterman on Managing Conflict

By Amy Foust

Commitment, communication, conflict resolution, and comradery: New York attorney Damali Peterman, founder and CEO of Breakthrough ADR, presented a Thursday, March 25, CPR-hosted discussion, “The 4 Cs to Managing Conflict in the Workplace Remotely.” 

Those “4 Cs,” she explained, establish or maintain comradery in a remote relationship. She discussed virtual coffee meetings, using the phone instead of Zoom, turning on cameras during Zoom calls to increase interactive communication, and introducing short icebreakers before getting to the substance of a meeting.  Damali modeled using “reactions” and the Zoom chat function to solicit audience involvement throughout her presentation.

Among other frameworks for understanding and preventing conflict, Damali reviewed the Thomas-Kilmann Conflict Mode Instrument’s communication styles and how they might appear in common workplace situations.  Understanding those styles, Damali said, can help in understanding behavior even if we do not know people well, as can happen in remote work relationships.  That understanding can also help us be aware of our own responses to conflict, avoiding defensiveness and adapting our response to the situation constructively.

Imagining conflict as an iceberg, Damali said that “only 10% of the iceberg is showing above the waterline.  We want to jump under that water line, and we want to see . . . more of the conflict, understand what happened and gather information.”

To gather information, she encouraged the use of the word “and.”  Rather than acknowledging other perspectives with “yes, but,” which tends to negate what came before, Damali encouraged the use of “yes, and,” which recognizes that there could be many valid perspectives.

In addition to Damali Peterman’s resources on the Breakthrough ADR website, a program of related interest will be “Yes, You Can!  Pathways to a Career in Conflict Prevention & Resolution,” a May 6 event presented by CPR’s Young Leaders in Alternative Dispute Resolution (Y-ADR) and the Metropolitan Black Bar Association’s Dispute Resolution Section.

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Author Amy Foust is an LLM candidate studying dispute resolution at the Straus Institute, Caruso School of Law at Malibu, Calif.’s Pepperdine University, and an intern with the CPR Institute through Spring 2021.

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