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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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?


What's Your Body Saying In Conflict?

In a Board meeting, I noticed one of the members putting her arm over and around her head as the conflict escalated.  It was as if she were physically trying to shield herself from the conflict.  

Did she realize she was doing it?  I doubt it.  Voices were raised, but there was no indication that anything would go flying anytime soon.

She was triggered.  The conflict was too much for her.

When you are in conflict, where do you feel it in your body?  Do you feel a tightening in your chest?  Do you want to cry?  Does your face scrunch or your lip curl in anger?  Do your fists clench?  Does your heart race, your face redden?  Do you need to escape, to walk away?

The next time you're in conflict, ask yourself, "Where do I feel it in my body?"  A lot of times, we are living so much in our heads that we don't have any idea what our body is experiencing.  If you take the time to tune in to your body, you will learn what your body needs when faced with conflict, as well as what your head needs.  You'll also find that you're less triggered -- by asking yourself that question, you've got your rational, human mind working again.


The Power of One Conference June 13-15, 2014 at Star Island

Have you made your plans yet for this weekend?  On Saturday, June 14, I'll be participating in the Power of One Conference at Star Island, off the coast of Maine and NH.  My workshop will, of course, be about conflict.  You can learn a little more about yourself, your conflict style, and the conflict styles of others.

The Power of One Conference is about so much more than just conflict, though.  In fact, you could go and not even come to my workshop (though that's not what I'm recommending).  

Roxie Zwicker, host of the TV show, The Power of One, has created this conference to allow participants to connect with some of the guests she has interviewed on her show.  As she describes it, "At the Power of One Conference, you can learn to conquer stress, discover empowering stories and exercises to live the life you've been dreaming of. Perhaps you'd like to know how to connect to your soul mate, work with the earth's energies, enjoy the mysteries of numerology, find that highly prized work-life balance or develop your intuition. Meet many of the guests that have shared their story and inspiration on the TV show The Power of One."

For more information or to register, check here:  https://www.facebook.com/events/574884595933010/ or here:  https://starisland.thankyou4caring.org/pages/power-of-one-conference


What we see depends mainly on what we look for.

What we see depends mainly on what we look for.  ~ John Lubbock

Last year, I was working together with attorney mediators and mental health professionals to create a workshop.  When we talked about what to charge, we each felt that it should cost less for people who registered early and more for people who registered late.  However, the way that we described this situation was vastly different.

It may not surprise you to hear that when it came to using the carrot or the stick approach, the mental health professionals opted for the carrot, while the lawyers opted for the stick.

We agreed on the basics.  Pay $100 by x date, or pay $110 thereafter.

The mental health professionals talked about early registrants being rewarded with a $10 discount.

Those trained as lawyers talked about late registrants being fined $10.

The end result was the same - pay $100 by x date, or pay $110 thereafter.  However, the way that it was seen and described was vastly different.  It was so different that the mental health professionals were a little horrified by the attorney approach, even though the end result was the same.

Think about how you look at the world.  Do you tend to see strengths or weaknesses in yourself and others?  Do you look to inspire yourself and others with a carrot or with a stick?  

What we see in ourself and others depends mainly on what we look for.  And how we react to it also depends on what we are looking for.

Be a little kinder with yourself and with others.  Use the carrot, not the stick.