About Me

Meredith Richardson, Esq., is a conflict management specialist.  She works as a Mediator, Facilitator, Trainer, Conflict Coach, and Collaborative Lawyer in Maine and New Hampshire.  Meredith will be providing a mediation training at Star Island September 7-11, 2014.  Follow her on facebook as Meredith Mediates: http://www.facebook.com/MeredithMediates

Meredith also creates retreats which help people to move through change and reconnect with their best selves.  In June, at Star Island, she is offering a Couples Retreat.  August 23-27, she will be leading her annual Midlife Retreat at Star Island.

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Does birth order influence how you handle conflict?

For all of us, what we learned as children can have a dramatic effect on what we do as adults.  

Most of what we do on a daily basis we do on autopilot, without even thinking about it.  We have developed rituals and routines and habits that enable us to use our thinking brain for the bigger stuff, while allowing our subconscious brain to handle brushing our teeth, showering, and the like.

So, what did you learn about conflict as a child that you're still using as an adult?

If you're the oldest child and/or the oldest boy child, you're likely to be the bossiest.  You will tend to believe that you know best.  As a child, you may have exercised the eldest's prerogative of "might makes right." While that doesn't have to carry over into adulthood, the idea that you know best and that you know best for everyone certainly can carry over.

It's not that you can't be caring and nurturing and wonderful.  You can be.  You just tend to do it in a parental way, providing guidance and direction for those around you (even if they aren't actually asking for it).

If you're a middle child, you had to find ways around your older sibling, but you still got to boss the younger one a little.  You may have learned to say you were sorry to the eldest, even when you weren't, just to keep the peace.  You may have felt a little invisible, with the eldest doing everything first and the youngest being the baby forever.  You may have used that invisibility cloak to your advantage, being a bit naughtier than your parents realized.  In the alternative, or in addition thereto, you may have become a bit of a button pusher, a rebel, just as a way to attract some attention your way.

You may find that you have less direct conflict in your life than the eldest does.  You look for ways around conflict.  You don't feel the need to deal directly with conflict.  You may be someone who always picks the relationship over being right.

At the same time, with your rebellious streak, you may find yourself doing some button pushing.  It could be playful conflict that you're engaging in.  You may also be a little passive-aggressive.

If you're the youngest child, the baby of the family, everyone felt entitled to boss you, so you had to find other ways to get your needs met.  You may have found that simply charming them worked quite nicely. You had it easier with your parents than your siblings did.  Your parents weren't as rigid with you; they had been worn down by your older siblings.  And you were the baby, so you were forever adorable (even when you weren't).

Where do you fall in terms of birth order?

Does your birth order affect how you are handling conflict as an adult?

Do these behaviors serve you now?


How can you get mediation and CLE credits and be on retreat?


Star Island

for education and relaxation

September 7-10, 2014!

It can be hard to transition from the easy days of summer to the work of fall.  I've put together a work and play retreat to help mediators and attorneys with that transition.

Unlike other educational events you may have attended, the focus here is on both relaxation and education.  The workshops are scheduled in the morning and late afternoon, giving you prime afternoon hours to explore Star Island and Smuttynose, row, kayak, swim, play tennis, or simply chat or read on the front porch.  It’s your choice how you spend your relaxation time.

We will discuss some of the famous and infamous residents of the Isles of Shoals, whose lives will be incorporated into the skills and ethics training portions of the materials. 

You will learn about some of the birds at the Isles of Shoals, who will be personified and incorporated into the training sessions.

You will also get an introduction to transformative mediation, a form of mediation in which the parties lead the mediator, rather than the other way around.

I will be applying for 14.0 hours of CE credit from CADRES and from the NH Marital Mediation Board, as well as for 14.0 hours of CLE credit from the Maine Overseers of the Bar.  (NH has changed their rules, so individuals must apply for NH CLE credits on their own.)

If you are an attorney who has no interest in ever being a mediator, can you come?  Absolutely.  You have great wisdom to offer.  Mediators can always learn from working with attorneys, and attorneys can always learn from working with mediators. 

Register  here.

Can you come late/leave early?  Probably, but it’s more complicated.  We will be on an island, after all. Contact me to make it happen:  meredithmediates@aol.com

I look forward to seeing you out there!


What can riding a Segway teach you about conflict?

Have you ever thought about what riding a Segway could teach you about conflict? I have!

Join me September 17 or 18 in downtown Portsmouth, NH, for a two-hour tour, followed by an hour discussion of how this applies to conflict. September 17 is for everyone, while the 18th is geared more toward mediation and legal professionals. To register, email me at meredithmediates@aol.com.


If you want people to like you, like them.

If you make it plain you like people, it’s hard for them to resist liking you back.  ~ Lois McMaster Bujold

Have you heard of mirror neurons?  When we see someone smile, mirror neurons in our brains fire as if we were smiling, too.  As a result, when we see someone smile, we often, inadvertently, smile back.  Simply by being kind, with a look or smile, we can encourage that same level of kindness in others as a result of mirror neurons.

It doesn’t work all the time, but it can help.

Have you ever met someone you found annoying?  Have you noticed that if the person is both mean and annoying, it’s easier to dislike the person than if the person is nice, but annoying?  It’s those mirror neurons at work again.  It’s harder to demonize someone who is nice, but annoying.  You feel conflicted:  because the person is nice, you want to like that person, but because the person is annoying, you just can’t get yourself to do so.  You end up feeling a little guilty.  You find yourself being nicer to the person than you want to be simply because the person is a nice person.

There are those who will resist your charms no matter how nice you are.  However, the majority of people will meet your liking them with them liking you, so you might as well set to liking as many of them as possible.


Relationships are Hard

Recently, I listened to a comedian talk about why he's still single.  He said that married people do a bad job of selling marriage to others.  You ask them how things are and they say things like, "So far, so good."  They tell you that marriage takes work.  Imagine that you went into a car dealership and you asked about a car and you were told that if you bought it, it was going to take work to keep it.

The truth is, though, whether it's a car or a person, there is a little work involved.  You might be able to delegate most of the work to others when it comes to your car, but you'll pay for it one way or another.

My husband and I moved in together for the first time 18 years ago.

Soon after we moved in together, we had our first big almost break up.

My husband had left his styrofoam cup of coffee on the mantle before heading off to work.  That was unacceptable to me.

I called my husband at work and let him know that we needed to break up.  Over a coffee cup.  And he came right home to talk me out of it.

Before you judge me too harshly, let me explain why this was a trigger for me.  My father has a lot of wonderful qualities, but tidiness isn't one of them.  I've seen a lot of styrofoam coffee cups left behind in my day.  And I didn't plan to be the one to have a lifetime of cleaning them up.  

Anyway, on the day in question, my husband told me that over the course of our time together, we would go through much bigger things than a coffee cup being left behind on a mantle.  I'm not sure why that was comforting, but it was.  And he was right, we have gone through much, much bigger things than that.

It has been incredibly hard sometimes.  And we did break up at one point - over something much bigger than a coffee cup.

When we were broken up, we did what we could to make the best of a bad situation.  We had difficult, painful conversations.  We also had good conversations.  He made time for me to see his children, my stepchildren, recognizing that relationship was important to myself and the children.  

We each dated other people.  We didn't interfere with it for the other person, and we also didn't rub each other's noses in it.  

And two years after the break up, we started dating each other again.  Three years after the break up, we were living together.

What can I tell you about that coffee cup incident?  It was a sign -- a sign that my husband is not the most tidy man I could have married, but more importantly, that he is willing to be there and put the work into the relationship, that he will give me his best, whatever that may be.

And, really, isn't that what's most important?