Category Archives: Posts


Conflict Resolution Training

Conflict Resolution Training


January 29, 2016

Conflict Resolution Training Opportunity at Mediation Services of Adams County

A football team trains regularly to handle the pressure of a game situation. While the athletes may study tapes of their opponents to learn their strategies and tendencies, they cannot predict exactly what the other team will do in a game. Training helps a team to explore alternative plays so they understand how to act and to respond under pressure.

We all face pressure daily, some of which we cannot predict or prevent. Few pressures weigh more heavily on us than conflict with others. Sometimes the stress is easily and quickly handled. Other times, the problem continues day in and day out with no end on the horizon. The uncertainty of conclusion itself aggravates us. What do you do when you have tried everything you know to do and said everything that needs to be said?

Consider conflict resolution training. Classes taught by certified trainers guide the class through the different steps of conflict resolution, also called mediation. You will learn about different perspectives and conflict styles. One session teaches skills such as overcoming communication blocks or barriers, using listening skills and reframing statements for clarification.

Participants are taught to identify problems and mutual interests as well as how to evaluate problem-solving ideas. The classes also learn how to prepare a written agreement with specific, measurable steps for both sides of a dispute. Between the course sections are enjoyable and practical break out sessions and role-playing scenarios. Elly Cleaver, retired Federal Government Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist, will lead this year’s training.

When you complete the twenty-two hour course, you are a certified mediator. You will be surprised how often you use your negotiating skills in daily life. You will also have the option to volunteer your skills to Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC). As need arises, our intake coordinator contacts individuals on our mediation team to negotiate between parties that contact MSAC. We offer other opportunities to advance your negotiating skills through other training events.

Who would benefit from mediation training? Anyone involved in customer service, sales, management, teachers, volunteers in community service agencies and organizations, and local government officers would benefit especially. The conflict resolution principles also benefit couples and families. In short, if you deal with people daily, you would find great value in the training sessions. As a pastor, I would encourage church leaders at all levels to consider conflict resolution training. Peacemaking lies at the heart of church leadership, and training will equip you to bring peace to a situation in your ministry.

The next MSAC training classes will be held at Gettysburg College’s Glatfelter Hall on April 1 from 1-5 pm, April 2 from 9 am – 5 pm, April 8 from 1-5 pm, and April 9 from 9 am – 5 pm. A registration fee of $275 is due by March 18. We offer one $75 scholarship for each non-profit organization represented at the training. For further information, please visit us online or send an email to or call our helpline at (717) 334-7312.

Rev. Matthew Jury pastors Grace Bible Chapel in York Springs, PA and serves as a board member and certified mediator for MSAC.


Golden Opportunity in Mediation

Golden Opportunity in Conflict


Rev. Matthew Jury

September 2015

The Golden Opportunity in Conflict

Entrepreneurs Joe and Bill attend Rock Church. Both men occasionally do business with each other. Along the way, Joe refused to pay Bill for services rendered to the tune of several thousand dollars. Naturally, tensions rise between the men. Channels of communication close quickly. Before long, the two men sit on opposite sides of the church auditorium during worship services, pretending the other doesn’t even exist.

The problem festers, affecting the entire church. Some in the church refuse to take sides. Others throw themselves behind one or the other. The church leadership team says, “We’re not getting involved.” Ignoring the elephant in the room always creates more problems. Before long, the church finds itself divided over an issue it did not create.

Finally Joe stomps out of the church, taking some of his supporters with him, but the original problem remains unresolved. Both men sense disillusionment about church. Those who took sides lick wounds inflicted by others in the church family. Many wonder what happened to the church they love. The leadership team wonders what it could have done differently.

Conflicts arise everywhere, including at church. The author and apologist Francis Schaeffer wrote that churches should be distinctly different in the way they handle conflict. “It is in the midst of a difference that we have our golden opportunity,” writes Schaeffer. He further explains that there is nothing to see as long as the church meets in its “holy bundle.” Problems become a golden opportunity to show how the church ought to be different. Handling problems with Christian love reflects integrity of faith and practice.

The Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 5.17-19 that Christ became The Mediator, setting the pattern of mediation and giving us the responsibility to mediate. The church stands simultaneously as a witness and a symbol of mediation. Worshippers gather at church because they believe that mediation works and makes a difference in their lives.

Of all places, church ought to be a place to confront problems squarely in the middle of conflict, leaving one church for another does not ultimately solve the problem. For this reason, clergy and laymen alike must involve themselves in the mediation process. Helping people to reconcile with each other lies at the heart of the basic function of church leadership. To fall or to refuse to participate in the mediation process abdicates one of the most basic functions of church leadership.

Mediation Services of Adams County offers annual training equipping people of faith with practical tools and skills to address conflict in ways consistent with their creed. Trained mediators will guide the attendee through the mediation process, resulting in certification. The attendee may then use their skills to contribute to the harmony of their church.

Rev. Matthew Jury, pastors Grace Bible Chapel in York Springs, PA and serves as a board member certified mediator for MSAC. Please visit us online or contact us at (717) 334-7312, or by email at



Mediation ends Conflicts

Mediation ends Conflicts


December 9, 2015


Are you experiencing conflicts in the workplace? Is it difficult to communicate with a co-worker, a supervisor or manager? When you get ready for work, do you get that sick feeling in the pit of your stomach?   You are not alone. Conflict is inevitable and while it occurs in all aspects of life, workplace disputes often have a negative effect on productivity and work relationships.

Conflicts develop when our individual needs, wants, methods, goals, and values are different. A conflict is different from a disagreement because it is almost always accompanied by feelings of anger, frustration, and anxiety. Relationships fail or break down when the parties involved ignore or avoid the conflict, but in work situations, people normally have to continue to work together. Many employers recognize that managing conflict effectively is an essential skill for maintaining a cohesive and productive work environment.

As an employee there are some things you can do to deal with conflict more effectively. Conflict can be managed by learning and applying good communication skills and problem solving skills in your day-to-day interactions. In some conflicts, we become emotionally charged and our focus is on blame, fault, and responsibility (our positions). As we become entrenched in our positions, we unwittingly, “feed” the conflict by accusing, blaming or finding fault.

If we focus on individual needs and desires (our interests) and work with each other rather than against each other, we have a better chance for resolving the conflict. While uncovering the interests of each person in the conflict helps to pinpoint what triggered the conflict, problem solving techniques help us solve each issue the parties discussed. Most of us use problem-solving techniques at work every day. Unfortunately, we don’t realize that those same skills can be used to resolve conflicts.

If your attempts to solve the conflict are unsuccessful, then as an employee, you may use the traditional, formal systems available to you to settle a dispute such as the grievance process or Equal Employment Opportunity process. In recent years, mediation has increased in popularity because it is an informal problem solving process that saves time and is cost effective. The mediation process is designed to assist individuals in conflict with creating a mutual solution to their dispute.

Mediation is also helpful in improving communications and repairing relationships. Mediation differs from court processes because it is not designed to determine who is right or wrong. In mediation, the parties create their own agreement while the mediator acts as a facilitator. Unlike court proceedings where a judge decides the outcome, nothing is decided in mediation unless both parties agree to the terms.

If you elect to use a more formal process such as a grievance or other type of complaint process, someone else will decide the outcome for you. However, in the mediation process, you and the other person maintain control over the outcome. Which would you rather choose?

Elly Cleaver is MSAC Board Member and a retired Federal Government Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist.





Communication is key to dispute resolution


JULY 6, 2015


Have you ever wondered why it’s such a problem to communicate with some people more than others? Do you find yourself avoiding people because you don’t want to deal with them? Well, you are not alone and here’s why….

Robert Fisher, author of Getting to Yes, says it this way: “Poor communication can lead to misunderstanding, unhelpful emotions, distrust, sloppy thinking, and poor outcomes”.

As we look at the process of communication, it seems there is responsibility on both the person speaking and the listener. As speakers, we must communicate a clear message while the listener is responsible for ensuring that he/she clearly understands what is being said.  As listeners, one of the things we can do is try to understand what the other person is thinking or feeling. The use of active listening skills may help you to begin understanding the other person’s message.

Active listening involves two important components: 1) restating what you think you heard and 2) reflecting your understanding of the message back to the speaker. Speakers, on the other hand, may stop periodically and ask if anyone has questions or understands what he/she is communicating.

Another dynamic involved in our daily communications, is our body language or nonverbal language. Rolling our eyes, putting our hands on our hips, raising an eyebrow, smiling, and nodding are all forms of nonverbal communication and have a huge impact on our communications. Being aware of the impact body language has on our communications with others may help us become better communicators.

Some body language is encouraging such as smiling or nodding while others, like putting our hands on our hips or working on another task may be distracting or seem confrontational. “The most important thing in communication is hearing what isn’t said,” observes Peter Drucker.

Communication Style is another factor that impacts our communications with one another. Most of us tend to speak in either a direct or an indirect style. A direct communicator is straightforward in his/her communications; the goal is simply an exchange of information. If you use an indirect form of communication, your listeners may have to read between the lines. If preserving harmony and strengthening the relationship is very important, the use of an indirect communication style can be beneficial.

Direct or indirect communication styles are used in a variety of communication settings. For instance, direct communication is important in an emergency, while indirect communication may be preferred when discussing a sensitive matter. Most of us use both communication styles; however, some of us have a tendency toward one style or the other, and these differences may lead to conflict.

What can you do to improve your communications with others?

Elly Cleaver is MSAC Board Member and a retired Federal Government Alternative Dispute Resolution Specialist.





Mediation helps

Mediation helps


June 11, 2015


Not long ago, I came upon a quotation by Dr. Wayne W. Dyer (whoever he might be), but the truth of it struck me as saying a lot about mediation: “The ultimate ignorance is the rejection of something you know nothing about yet refuse to investigate.”

In many communities across the US, citizens know nothing about mediation, at least in part because the legal community rejects it. We are fortunate in Adams County in having a handful of lawyers who are trained in mediation and willing to practice it with their clients. But “handful” is the optimum word here.

Those of us who understand and practice true mediation, which has nothing to do with deciding the outcome of a dispute for the disputants, wonder why it’s not more popular as a method of conflict resolution. Are we so deep into the notion of winning and losing that we are afraid to try a method in which both parties win? Are we so in love with power that we would rather find a high-priced lawyer who will sue the other guy for big bucks, rather than schedule an inexpensive facilitation? Or are disputants so lazy that they want someone else to do the hard work of finding a solution?

“Just listen to us and decide.” That seems to be the attitude of many people who are embroiled in conflicts. Not too long ago, Mediation Services of Adams County had a human resources director take our Basic Conflict Resolution Training and discover that she was doing just that – failing to empower the disputants. In fact, police departments and corporations often talk about “taking a problem to mediation,” when they’re not doing any such thing. If the “mediator” listens and makes, the decision, that’s arbitration.  Mediation is a whole different ball game.

With its roots in the Bible, as well as Confucian and Native American thought, mediation involves forgiveness, reconciliation and community. The very act of coming together in the presence of a trained facilitator is a huge step in the direction of reconciliation. Agreeing to listen respectfully to each other — without interruption — means recognizing each other’s dignity and beginning to re-build trust. Working together, with help in thinking outside the box, is a lesson in how to create community. Although forgiveness doesn’t always happen, disputants nearly always hug or shake hands at the end of mediation, and often there is an apology.

The outcome of mediation is usually an agreement, but sometimes not. Or it may be a partial agreement, which disputants will take to a lawyer for further action, after having done much of the difficult work inexpensively, with the help of a mediator. But mediation offers some stunning by-products as well. Particularly for individuals who share the same workplace or have adjoining backyards, mediation may establish trust and strengthen relationships. Or if a relationship is being terminated, mediation can help to make that happen in a way that minimizes costs and emotional harm.

If you are in need of help with a conflict, do your homework. Find out more about mediation. Check out our website or e-mail us at

Janet M. Powers is MSAC Presiding Officer and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College.




August 13, 2015


When we are in conflict with another person, or even moving in that direction, most of us have a tendency to begin to find fault with that person. We might say to ourselves or to others that he or she is “getting on our nerves.” The next step is for us to find negative motives in the other person’s behavior. Then avoidance kicks in. We may stay away from that person or show the emotions we are feeling in various unpleasant ways. We might actually begin to view him or her as a “pain in the neck.”

This sort of pain does not call for a chiropractor because it’s not physical. And it’s not limited to individuals. We may come to regard an organization or even another country in much the same way. But why the neck? It’s an idiom, of course, a more polite way of saying “pain in the kiester,” a German –based expression for pain in one’s nether regions. But pain in the neck suggests that the head is also involved. It’s hard to hold up one’s head confidently when carrying the burden of conflict.

The source of the pain, which we attribute to another person who has annoyed us or hurt us in some way, may actually be oneself. Asking some hard questions might in fact help to relieve that pain in the neck. What did the other person do or say that led you to think of him/her as a pain in the neck? Can you describe in more detail what that pain feels like? How is this pain different from a physical pain? Can it be healed, by retracing the emotional steps that brought you to this point?

If a physical pain is severe, we would take steps to mend it: making an appointment to see a doctor or picking up a prescription for medication. Likewise, if a conflict does not resolve itself with time or thoughtful reflection, then it’s probably time to seek outside help. Mediation is a simple, low-cost approach to solving conflicts that will result in a win-win solution. If you call the MSAC help line, you will be connected with an intake coordinator who can listen to your problem and offer to set up a mediation session with that person who is such a pain in the neck.

Of course some people would rather continue in a cycle of pain rather than doing something about it. Maybe it gives them something to complain about. Bad-mouthing another person allows them the satisfaction of feeling superior. But that’s a cheap fix, at best. If your “pain” is someone who lives nearby or shares your workplace, it’s far better to sit down and talk over the issues that get in the way of a normal relationship. However, few of us can do that without the help of an impartial third party who will keep us on track and stop us from interrupting each other.

For assistance with a pain in the neck, call 717-334-7312 or e-mail MSAC at More information about mediation is available on our website.

Janet M Powers is MSAC Presiding Officer and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College.






Mediation coach at work with Trainees


October 8, 2015


In many parts of our lives, we need experts to guide us in the right direction or help handle a problem that seems to have no solution. Thanks to a grant from the Adams County Community Foundation, Mediation Services of Adams County was able to send two experienced mediators for training in Conflict Coaching with the Good Shepherd Community Mediation Center in Philadelphia.

Rosie Bolen, a professor at Mount St. Mary’s University, and Bob Smith, a retired business executive, have both had practical experience in working with individual and community conflicts. With their expertise, Mediation Services is pleased to offer Conflict Coaching as a service for the community.

Who needs a conflict coach? For starters, if you would like to mediate but you think the other party might not, or will not, come to the table, a conflict coach can help you figure out what to do next, including the pros and cons of seeking legal counsel.

Conflict coaching is also useful for someone who is considering mediation but is unsure what it involves. Or maybe someone has asked you to mediate and you don’t want to, but you would like some help in taking the next step. Perhaps you think that counseling would be helpful but you’re not sure. If you want to take someone to court but aren’t sure about expenses, a conflict coach can help. Let’s say you want to help someone else through a bad situation but don’t have all the answers   — time to find a coach!

A conflict coach can help anyone with a difficult problem to figure out the next step. However, conflict coaching should not be confused with counseling as in behavioral health. Conflict coaches cannot mend broken marriages, resolve long-standing family arguments, or help someone find a way out of depression. Coaches can, however, provide a sounding board for someone who is baffled by alternatives or needs to find clarity concerning conflict. A coach can help you explore options and think through the advantages and disadvantages of each.

You may decide to pursue the legal route after meeting with a conflict coach. You might opt to press charges through a district justice or hire a lawyer to help solve the problem. Others may elect to pursue some other form of alternative conflict resolution, such as arbitration, family group decision-making, or just “talking things over” with the other party. The point is that a conflict coach, while understanding the ins and outs of disputes, also has a good knowledge of community resources and can make much-needed referrals.

When someone seeks conflict coaching, the coach tries to understand the individual’s needs and goals. The individual and the coach may discuss the situation in question, how people behave in conflict situations, different approaches to conflict, and options to aid resolution. Each session lasts an hour and a half to two hours, depending on a party’s needs.

How can you make arrangements for conflict coaching? To speak to an intake coordinator, call 717-334-7213 or contact MSAC by e-mail: Conflict coaching is not expensive. We operate on a sliding scale according to income, with rates beginning at $10 and going up to $50 per session. Check us out!

Janet M. Powers is MSAC Presiding Officer and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College.






Bullying Can Expand Online

Parenting may be the most important job in our society, even though it is an unpaid position. It brings opportunities for parents to grow, learn new things, and develop wonderful relationships with their children; but it also brings challenges, frustrations, and fears for the safety and well-being of those children. These days, social media is extremely important in the lives of our children, especially teens. It is scary for parents because neither teens nor parents can control what happens on social media, and teens just do not understand all the possible consequences of what they post on social media sites.

The days when parents provided privacy for kids are history. Now teens can “webcam” friends right into the house. This allows them to interact live online with friends–and with strangers– without parental knowledge. It is startling to learn that hackers can use malware to get into your computer operating system and actually take pictures of you or your child, using the webcam on your computer, possibly without anyone knowing. Using this, someone could watch every action in front of the computer.

Cyberbullying is the repeated use of technology to harass, humiliate or threaten. This is done mostly by teenagers who are not fully aware of the consequences of their online actions. Regardless of actual behavior, others may post things online, labeling a girl as “slut” or “bitch,” or labeling a boy as “gay.” These actions are destructive, whether they are true or not.

Nearly every teen has a cellphone or small computer with a camera. Teens like to “capture the moment” without getting permission from the people involved. It is important to know that a file remains, even on websites that say the image will disappear. Like spoken words, they can’t be “put back into the tube” after they are posted.

Nothing breeds irresponsible behavior like anonymity. Thousands of applications (apps) are available for electronic devices; some promise anonymity. Teens are realizing that Facebook, Twitter and YouTube are public; parents and colleges can see what they post there, so they go to apps. Twitter has “subtweets” where teens can use codes only “insiders” know, making it difficult for adults to track. There are online sites “below the surface” that are harder to track. Students who are victims of this slander carry deep hurts that can be hard for adults to help. For more information see the article, “Exposed” in the spring, 2014 issue of Teaching Tolerance at

Abbreviations are important in online communication. Some that help young people hide what they are doing from parents are: CD9-Code 9, means parents are around; KPC-Keeping Parents Clueless; MOS-Mom Over Shoulder; P911-Parent Alert; PAW-Parents are watching; PIR-Parent in Room. You can find these and more at

A basic value of mediation is respect for people with whom we disagree. It is essential to respect people of all ages, cultures, creeds, and colors, and to model respect in our behavior and speech. Children, parents, teachers, and all other people deserve respect.

Mediation Services of Adams County (MSAC) has trained mediators available to help people work through strained family relationships, disputes with neighbors, contractors, landlords, and other conflicts for an economical fee based on income. If you would like more information about mediation, please contact Mediation Services of Adams County, 717-334-7312, on line, or the website, http: //

Mary Kay Turner is a teacher, who is a trainer, mediator, and board member of MSAC.


by Dennis R. McGough, Ph.D.

Have you ever left work at the end of a challenging day, got behind the wheel of your car and then after a time, found yourself in your driveway? You can’t remember the specifics of the drive home, but sure enough, you arrived safely. You might wonder, “How did I get here?” Experiences of this nature, while perhaps a little unnerving, demonstrate the power that habits can have in our lives. The drive home from work is repeated over and over again, to the point that we occasionally make the trip on “autopilot”.

In his excellent book, THE POWER OF HABIT, New York Times business writer Charles Duhigg explains that habits are formed through a psychological process called a habit loop. The habit loop has three parts, the cue or trigger, the habitual action, and the reward, something that our brain uses to help us remember the habit loop in the future. Once we have formed a habit, our brain uses the habit loop to determine what we will do in a particular situation.

Habits can be very useful. As detailed in the classic book, SEVEN HABITS OF HIGHLY EFFECTIVE PEOPLE, Dr. Stephen R. Covey, explains that habits allow us to deal with routine situations without having to think them through each time we face them. Habits can be good or bad. Most of us don’t have to think too long to come up with a few bad habits we would like to change.

Albert Einstein said that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. While insanity might be a rather harsh descriptor, it’s clear that in order to change a result of an interaction, we must find a different way to deal with the challenge.

Everyone faces conflicts in his or her life. Some are minor and quickly get resolved, like who will pick up the kids after basketball practice. Others, however, are more significant, and may remain unresolved because we use the same habitual approach to deal with the challenge. As Einstein pointed out, we can’t expect a different outcome unless we find a new way to deal with the problem.

Mediation can be a fresh, new way to deal with a conflict. People come together in a neutral environment and work face-to-face with a trained mediator to develop a mutually acceptable resolution to their differences. Mediation Services of Adams County, a non-profit organization, is dedicated to helping people resolve their disputes. MSCA provides trained mediators, whose goal is to help individuals develop acceptable solutions to conflict situations. To explore how mediation could help you, contact MSAC at 717-334-7312, online, or see our website at

Dennis R. McGough, Ph.D., is an MSAC board member, retired business executive and retired faculty member of the Masters in Industrial/Organizational Psychology Program, University of New Haven, West Haven, Connecticut.





We Can Work It Out

Recently NAFCM, the National Association for Community Mediation, queried members as to songs about finding peaceful solutions to difficult problems. A barrage of e-mails followed, generating an amazing list of song titles. Just to share a few, let me mention “Nobody Right, Nobody Wrong” by Michael Franti; “Healing River” from Pete Seeger’s “I Can See A New Day” album; “Imagine” by John Lennon; “ Hard to Say I’m Sorry” by Chicago; “We Can Work It Out” by the Beatles;” and “We Just Disagree” by Dave Mason.

I wondered whether we could use these songs in a Conflict Resolution Training course? Or could we produce a remix CD to hand out to parties who successfully come to agreement after multiple mediation sessions? Although neither of these ideas is about to take shape, the long list of song titles (and there are many more) suggests that the core idea of mediation is at the heart of human experience. Why else would so many people write songs about hurting each other and trying to make amends?

From time to time, we are all embroiled in conflicts, sometimes over big issues, sometimes over small ones. We have an innate need to end our conflicts, but often we don’t know how. Some people find it truly difficult to say, “I’m sorry.” I remember speaking to a group of family caregivers and hearing one of the women say firmly, “I will never be able to forgive.” At the time I was shocked, but since then I’ve come to understand that it takes enormous courage to admit human weakness. It also takes hard work to address a thorny problem and arrive at solutions that work for both sides.

Because we believe that mediation is a superior way of dealing with conflict, the MSAC Board of Directors and MSAC mediators devote time and energy to providing varied possibilities for alternative dispute resolution. We offer inexpensive mediation because we want the public to have every opportunity to experience this way of solving problems. We deliver Conflict Resolution Training to individuals and organizations, and even offer scholarships for participants from non-profit agencies and churches. We make available, free of charge, anti-bullying information to parents and educators because we see a connection between children learning how to respect each other and adults being able to work out problems in a constructive way.

All of these efforts require funding beyond modest amounts paid for mediation and training. Enter our pink flamingos, a fund-raising scheme that has raised a few hackles but also raised much-needed funds for MSAC. It’s September, and although the weather is still tropical, the Mediation flamingos will be winging their way south very shortly. Typically, we close our fund-raising year with their final appearance at the Adams County Heritage Festival. Phoenicopterus ruber plasticus will not be sighted again until May 2015 when this extraordinary bird will arrive unexpectedly on the lawns of Adams County citizens.

We would like to thank those supporters who donated generously by responding to the flamingo challenge or paying for “anti-flocking insurance.” You continue to help us to keep this vital effort of community mediation alive in Adams County, and we are grateful.

Janet M. Powers is Presiding Officer of Mediation Services of Adams County and Professor Emerita at Gettysburg College. Contact MSAC at