- "When stakes are high, you can keep tension down by taking small steps toward the center. Let the other person make his argument first. Or let him win a few small points. It's a way of acknowledging his feelings and encouraging him to reciprocate. This can lead to what we call the transformative moment—when people are able to meet each other in deeper ways that allow for vulnerability."
— Barbara Tint, PhD, director of international and intercultural conflict resolution for the conflict resolution graduate program at Portland State University, Oregon
- "Discord hijacks rational thought and makes people take extreme stands. Think about an argument over Chinese versus Italian food for dinner. There are other choices; you're just too worked up to get to them. That's why it's so critical to look beneath the positions to what somebody else's real interests are. One person could say, 'I just had Chinese'; the other doesn't want the carbs from pasta. Now you can calm down enough to find the solution that meets both of your needs—steak, maybe. When a relationship is suffering, it's important to think, 'What is this person's story? Abuse? Betrayal? Fear of intimacy?' Once you shift your focus away from yourself and toward the others involved, you've made room for compassion."
— Eileen Borris-Dunchunstang, EdD, director of training at the Institute for Multi-Track Diplomacy and author of Finding Forgiveness (MCGraw-Hill)
- "I find it helps to compliment a person right away ('I really appreciate your passion for this…'). Next, to show that you're listening, occasionally pause and rephrase the other person's point ('It sounds like this is what you're saying'). That tones him down. Once he's cooled, make your point ('Here's my perspective; do you see where I'm at on this?'). Also, there's generally a grain of truth to any criticism—nod to that, and you've both reduced its power and built some goodwill. People think of conflict resolution as just finding the right compromise; but from our work, we know you can make it a win-win situation."
— Linda Woolf, PhD, past president of the American Psychological Association's peace psychology division