About Me

Meredith Richardson, Esq., is a conflict management specialist.  She works as a Mediator, Facilitator, Trainer, and Conflict Coach in Maine and New Hampshire.  Follow her on facebook as Meredith Mediates: http://www.facebook.com/MeredithMediates.  To receive monthly tips on conflict and upcoming events and retreats, email her at meredithmediates@aol.com.

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Moving Through Change At Different Speeds

My husband and I process change in different ways.

I am, in many instances, an early onset change adopter.  I love change.  I love to learn from it.  I enjoy stepping into the chaos and finding my way to navigate through it.

My husband, on the other hand, hates change.  He backs into it, kicking and screaming.  He likes routine.  He will always choose the devil he knows over the devil he does not know.

We are currently in the process of moving.  We have sold our condo, moved to an apartment, and are looking for our next home to own.  This change is a big one and has triggered many conversations about how we process change.

As the early onset adopter of change, I have had to abandon my timetable.  I have found a vast number of potential options for us, none of which have been acceptable to my husband.  There is a lot that, for me, can be good enough.

As the person who hates change, he has had to abandon his timetable.  Things have happened very quickly as far as he is concerned.  He has found us a couple of options.  Each seems tied to the past in some fashion - there is something about each of the places that is a link to a devil we know, rather than one we do not, and I have nixed each one.

When you are in a relationship and processing change at different speeds, it can be very challenging.  You need to keep the lines of communication open.  You will likely each need to abandon your view of how it should happen, and instead focus on how it can happen.  How can you move forward as a couple through the change?  

If you are the earlier adopter of change,  what can you do to assuage the fears of the other person around change?  Do you even know what those fears are?  Have you asked how you can help with them?

If you are the person who is resistant to change, what can you do to take one small step forward?  Just one step.  And then another.  Your partner will want to be assured that you can move through this change, and may have some fears that you will become stuck somewhere in the process.  What can you do to assuage your partner's fears in that regard?



How to Navigate Conflict as a Human, Not as a Reptile

On Tuesday, June 9, 2015, I will be presenting, "How to Navigate Conflict as a Human, Not as a Reptile," to the Human Resources Association of Southern Maine.  Come join me!  Click here to register.


Why Don't Rational People Behave Rationally?


We like to believe that we are rational beings who make rational decisions.  Sometimes, we are.  And sometimes, we are not.

We each have our own beliefs about how the world works and how we function in it.  When we are faced with information that contradicts our beliefs, it can be almost impossible to remain open to this new information.  Our brain shuts down, doing the equivalent of, "La, la, la, can't hear you," until this disquieting information goes away.  In the alternative, we may listen only to the extent necessary to retrieve information from our memory to refute everything that is being said.  All of this can make it quite difficult to have a constructive, productive disagreement with someone else.  

The problem is two-fold:

1. Your brain loves to put things into categories.  Once something is neatly categorized, once a decision has been made, your brain can relax. It no longer has to think about this topic.  This topic can now be handled on autopilot.

2. Once your brain has made a decision about something, it is very invested in that being the correct decision.  The time to weigh all the evidence was before the decision was made.  After the decision has been made, it is, of course, the correct decision, because your brain only makes correct decisions. Your brain will actively seek out support for its decision.  It will also discredit, minimize, and ignore information that would go against its decision.

So, what can you do?

1. Wait to make a decision until you have as many facts as possible.  The longer you wait, the longer your brain remains open to all possibilities.  Talk about the situation with a wide variety of people.  Abraham Lincoln didn't surrounded himself with yes men.  He actively sought advice from people who had been his staunch opponents.  When you're faced with a tough decision, don't just talk to the people you know will agree with you or say what you want to hear.

2. Don't let the conversation turn ugly.  It turns out that venting in anger actually hurts more than it helps. When you treat someone badly, your brain must justify why it was necessary to do so.  The focus then turns to demonizing the other person so that the only logical response would be to react as your brain did.  If the conversation is about to get ugly, take a break. 

3. Take some time, privately, to put yourself in the other person's shoes.  Think about the disagreement only from the perspective of the other person.  If you were that person, why would you hold that belief?  Your brain will try to tell you that it's only because the other person is a jerk or a stupid jerk or a stupid, biased jerk.  You need to go deeper than that.  What are the cares and concerns for the other person?  What are the other person's core beliefs?  How are they shaping that person's reaction?

4. We are tribal.  Find a way to be a part of the other person's tribe.   

You can be part of the same tribe based on gender, religious beliefs, political affiliations, family, similar interests, and so much more.  Once you are part of the same tribe, you get extra bonus points just by being part of the tribe.  And, you give extra bonus points to other tribe members as well.

Research has shown that Democrats will support a restrictive welfare policy if they believe it to be from the Democratic Party (even if it looks like a stereotypical Republican policy).  The same is true in reverse:  Republicans will support a generous welfare policy if they believe it to be from the Republican Party (and not the Democrats).  

If you make this person part of your tribe, not only is the other person going to be more receptive to what you are saying, you will also be more receptive to what the other person has to say.

All of this will help you to be what your brain already knows you are -- a rational human being who makes rational, correct decisions based upon the information at hand, and who, when presented with new information, rationally evaluates it, and forms new, correct decisions based on all of the information at hand.  One can hope, anyway. ;-)


Couples Retreat August 30-September 2, 2015

Are you at a crossroads in your relationship? Are you having problems with communication, connection, and conflict? Please join Susan Lager, a fabulous couples therapist and friend, and myself at Star Island August 30 - September 2 for our annual Couples Retreat. We can help you to move toward better connection, improved communication, and decreased dysfunction in conflict. You can register here. (Yes, we changed the date from June, and the website hasn't caught up yet.)

If you've tried couples therapy or mediation before, then you know both the cost and the value of having a professional present to help you to discuss and move through tough issues.  You may also have experienced frustration in trying to do this work an hour or two at a time in the course of your already full lives.

The retreat allows you the time that you need as a couple to truly work on and through the tough issues you face as a couple.  It gives you days of access to two professionals who have helped thousands of people to move through situations similar to yours.  It provides for all of this to happen at Star Island, a rustic island miles from the mainland, which soothes your body and soul toward relaxation. 

If you register by June 15, we will give you $100 off.  This is our gift to you for registering early.

Will you give this gift to yourselves?




Join me at the Association for Consulting Expertise

On May 15, 2015, join me in Brunswick, ME, for a short workshop, "Why is Conflict So Hard?"  We will do a quick exercise to explore what each of us bring to the table in terms of conflict.  There will also be some helpful hints to help you navigate conflict more successfully.  You can register here.