Are you tired of cleaning up the aftermath of destructive interpersonal conflict in your organization? Do you long to be free from the stress and desperation of conflict avoidance? Are you doing your best to make progress in diversity but just can't find the road to real inclusion? If so, Difficult Dialogues Consulting, LLC, can help by providing your team with the skills, knowledge, and attitudes of conflict competence.
Conflict competence workshops
And, if you're experiencing acute destructive conflict or progress-hindering conflict avoidance in a workplace, church, or community organization setting, we can provide third-party non-judicial mediation. Please note that this type of mediation is a formal process whereby we facilitate communication between individuals to assist them in constructing mutually-acceptable agreements that move them beyond the impasse they've reached. We are NOT lawyers, we do NOT provide binding arbitration services, and we are NOT counselors (i.e., we do not offer any advice on the substantive details of the dispute).
The service we provide is the management of a communication process that can bring willing individuals to the table and keep them there long enough to identify and overcome the obstacles that are impeding their ability to work together. In simplest terms, we do not solve people's problems -- we facilitate a communication process that helps people solve their own problems.
We believe we're unique because we don't tell people what to think about difficult topics; instead, we teach them how to think together about difficult topics.
What is your company description and what makes your company unique?
How did you get into entrepreneurship?
After years of participating in a wide variety of organizational change efforts, my colleagues and I have realized that the key to positive organizational change (especially in the area of diversity) is healthy conflict. We've also realized that most individuals (ourselves included) are naturally conflict incompetent -- i.e., when perspectives collide, we typically engage in destructive conflict, or worse, conflict avoidance.
So we've spent the past few years researching the dynamics of constructive conflict, which pioneer social and organizational analyst Mary Parker Follett described as "a normal process by which socially valuable differences register themselves for the enrichment of all concerned." We love the phrase "for the enrichment of all concerned," and we created Difficult Dialogues Consulting, LLC, for the purpose of empowering people to consistently engage in conflict that enriches everyone involved.
Why do you do what you do?
Here are three really important facts that help explain why we do what we do:
1. We are Christians.
2. We aren’t trying to convert anybody to Christianity.
3. Our principles of conflict competence transcend religious, philosophical, and with few exceptions, even cultural boundaries. They're the product of years of research on cooperative/collaborative learning and intercultural communication competence.
Here’s the upshot of these three vitally important facts: We believe there is a God, and we believe that this God wants human beings to treat each other with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience (we got that list from the Bible, in the book of Colossians, chapter 3, verse 12). We also believe that when people treat each other this way, their families, organizations, and societies thrive.
We believe that this thriving is beautifully expressed by the Hebrew word for peace – shalom – which is conceptually far more than just tranquility or repose. We believe the word is best translated as “interconnected flourishing,” and we also believe that rather than the absence of conflict, it describes the presence of constructive conflict. And finally, we firmly believe that you don’t have to belong to any faith community to benefit from developing the skills, knowledge, and attitudes of conflict competence.
What tools, resources or books have you used to start and/or grow your business?
We've done extensive research on intercultural competence, organizational change, and especially diversity initiatives; web access to academic and other professional resources has made most of this research possible.
Our initial marketing has been aimed at Christian mission organizations, and our personal contacts and presentations at professional conferences are currently our main effort. We also have a Google-hosted website and are looking forward to optimizing our online presence using Google Analytics as we grow.
Why did you choose to locate your business in Florida?
My business colleagues and I all live in Florida. Their careers brought them here. For me, I landed in Florida through active duty at US Central Command Headquarters, MacDill AFB Tampa immediately after the 9/11 attacks. After serving multiple tours between 2001 and my retirement in 2012, we chose to remain in Florida to be near my wife's family in Tampa.
We live in Citrus County because outdoor recreation is a huge part of our lives, and this area offers so many magnificent hiking, biking, and kayaking opportunities, and it's only an hour away from Tampa. I have also enjoyed the simplicity of setting up an LLC in Florida; the Florida Department of State website makes it very easy to do.
What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs?
We are still at the very beginning of the Difficult Dialogues Consulting journey, so I just have to keep reminding myself that Rome wasn't built in a day.
How can other entrepreneurs help you?
Send people to our website to see who we are and what we have to offer.