Archive for June, 2010

Collaborative Approach to Conflict Management

June 26, 2010

I read an interesting article a few months ago about a new “Collaborative S tyle” of conflict management. This involves finding a solution that completely satisfies the concerns of both parties (not just one)  in a conflict.

To explain further what this means all the various  conflict styles will be described. They are:-

1. Competing – assertive and uncooperative. You satisfy your own concerns at the expense of the other. Win/Lose.

2 Accommodating – unassertive and co-operative. You sacrifice your own concern’s to satisfy the other party.Lose/Win

3. Compromising – partially assertive and partially co-operative. You look for an acceptable settlement that only partially satisfies your own and the other party. 1/2 Lose/ 1/2 Win   //    1/2Lose / 1/2 Win

4. Avoiding – unassertive and uncooperative. You try to sidestep or postpone the conflict, satisfying neither you concerns or the others. Lose/Lose

5. Collaborative – assertive and co-operative. You try to problem solve to find a solution that completely satisfies both your concerns and the others’.
Win / Win

Many people maybe surprised that a Collaborative outcome can be possible.  What makes this different to the other styles,  is that everyone involved is listening to the others’ views,  not just focusing on their own needs and trying to incorporate the former into sound decisions.

It is important that people recognize which style they tend towards, before learning to adapt another style.  Also one must learn to identify which style is most appropriate or productive for each given situation.

Research shows that a Collaborative Style of conflict resolution leads to superior decisions especially for complex and non routine issues eg. negotiation over resources.   It is better at combining diverse insights into more accurate understandings leading to more innovative solutions.  It also enhances communication learning and builds trust.

Another key to implementing this mode is to distinguish between “Positions” and “Concerns”.   Concerns are the things people in a conflict care about.  For instance, miners wish to ensure that their industry remains competitive and that they have enough profits to invest for future growth and new projects.  The Government wishes to ensure that they can raise more funds in order to provide important services and infrastructure which is needed for the community and help pay off the budget deficit which occurred due to the Global Financial Crisis.

Positions on the other hand are the solutions that each party recommends as a way of satisfying their concerns.  Eg.  Miners hold a position they do not want a super profits tax introduced whereas the Government does see the need for this.

In finding out the Concerns of each party (and not just their positions),  there is a much greater possibility of finding other innovative or alternative solutions (or positions) which may end up satisfying the needs of both parties.   This is where brainstorming and creative problem solving can come into play.

Naturally this style will be more successful if both parties learn to adopt these Collaborative techniques on an equal level.   It is important that such discussions also do not erupt into personality conflicts and clashes which can be highly destructive.   Both parties involved would need to be very secure in themselves to implement such a mature and advanced conflict resolution style, since it can often require a greater openness  as to personal concerns behind positions that people hold.   To reach collaborative solutions can take much longer.  Also views expressed can still be quite passionate.  However the time taken to achieve collaborative solutions can often lead to better outcomes for all concerned in the long term.

Perhaps managers,  top executives and leaders in power need to learn to adopt collaborative techniques in a greater measure so that more satisfactory solutions and outcomes may be achieved for all parties concerned.

These ideas were taken from a White Paper entitled “Making Conflict Management a Strategic Advantage”  by Kenneth W Thomas  Ph. D


Give The Man A Chance……

June 22, 2010

Kevin Rudd

I felt the need to express my views about the present political climate that is leading up to the upcoming federal election.  Basically I feel really sorry for Kevin Rudd that he is taking such a beating from the media and the general public as a whole.

Yes it is true after nearly three years of closer scrutiny of our present leader we have discovered that he is human and imperfect.   It is true he has not totally delivered successfully (yet) all of the things that we wanted him or he promised to do.  All I can say is – welcome to the real world.  What did people expect ?  A wizard who can just wave a magic wand and allow perfect bills to be passed at his own whim?  (eg.  for climate change).   If people expect magnanimous reforms (that have never been accomplished before)  to be performed in such a short time,  then those people better may need to choose a more a communist or totalitarian regime to live under.   If people want to get used to living in a democracy they had better open their eyes and realise  things cannot just materialise overnight at the beck and call ( spontaneous criticism) of the general public.

Climate Change Bill

Take the climate change bill for example.  After 3 times it was presented to the Senate it kept on getting knocked back because it was not yet “perfected” in the eyes of numerous green and liberal senators.   Then there was Copenhagen where the rest of the  world especially the major continents like China and the USA were not ready to commit to such huge reductions in green house gas emissions.    After this continuous series of ” brick walls”   anyone  would probably feel they needed  a break from this uphill battle.   This does not  signify that major reform for climate change will not come.  It’s just that it does not come overnight or easily because we live in a real world with many other influencing factors.  eg.  like the global financial crisis.

Abolition of the Slave Trade Bill

Take for example the Bill to end slavery which was presented for the first time by William Wilberforce in 1789.  This cause was an even greater “moral challenge of our time” then climate change.  However due to constant and vehement attack   by the opposition party  it was continually rejected.  It was only 18 years later, after Wilberforce almost ruined his  physical health,  that the bill was finally passed in 1807.

Abolition of the White Australia Policy

The abolition of the White Australia Policy is another example of major reform being a long and drawn out process.  This policy was first introduced in the early 1850’s and it was only in 1973 that the Whitlam Government took steps to remove race as a factor in deciding immigration.   This was finally cemented when a larger portion of  non European migrants were permitted to enter Australia under the Fraser Government in 1975.  This sensitive reform took a period of 25 years to achieve.  (See

However, from the example of the Abolition of the Slave Trade Bill and the Abolition of the White Australia Policy,  it is  evident that major reform often  takes a long time.   In the light of this fact,  is it realistic for the (quick to criticise )  public and media, to expect that a new Climate Change Bill will be successfully passed at the public’s whim,  within only the first term of a new government?   If so, it’s time that people started getting  in the real world.   Also does the public think that giving the present government the “flick” will actually improve Australia’s chances of progressing in climate change reform?  I don’t think so.  Half of the Liberal Coalition either don’t believe Climate Change exists or don’t believe it is serious enough to warrant discussion.  Also do people really think that a Greens vote will accomplish anything?  This will only probably produce another “Hung Parliament” as in Tasmania where it will probably take 3 months after the election to decide who is going to lead the country (let alone renew climate change policy).

Another factor I would like to add in this discussion is that it is better to have some climate change policy (even if it only cuts emissions by a lower target than anticipated) rather than have nothing at all.   This is the problem with the continual rebuttal of the Rudd’s original Bill.   To accept a climate change policy even though it has a lower target, can be easier and less costly for the business community as a whole.  The reason is that once a new carbon tax is put in place, it will initially take time and extra cost for businesses to administer –  just like the GST first did.     After this teething process has passed and businesses have learnt to factor this tax into their every day operations,  then the target levels  could be gradually increased.  This would then lessen the huge burden that could be suddenly thrust upon businesses.  Instead it could spread the cost of the tax and it’s administration over a longer period of time.

Global Financial Crisis

Also in having a break from pushing the Climate Change Bill,  Rudd is also giving financial breathing space to ordinary working families, by holding off this increasing cost.  It would be harder on working families to introduce this new tax during the middle of the  global financial crisis,  since many people may be laid off work during this volatile period of time.

It is important to note that the Rudd government is not saying they will completely abandon their original Climate Change Policy or promises they  originally made.  Instead they are saying they are waiting for the right time in the future when the Senate are ready to accept it and when the businesses and the general public can afford to  pay for it.  However his main critics are saying that he has not achieved this soon enough and hence it is probably time to give him the “boot” in the next federal election.

Insulation Scheme

However the proof that the Government was greatly concerned about the environment and climate change was their action taken in providing insulation to all homes that were eligible.  Yes there were shortcomings in how this was administered – this was because there were shonky dealers who wanted to make a quick buck and rort the whole system.  (My heart does still go out to those families who lost loved ones).    However these faults probably occurred because they wanted to take action quickly and be seen as a government who will actually do something instead of just giving lip service during election times.     Hence it would appear that the government is damned if they try to do something quickly and damned if they don’t do something quickly.

Health  Care Reform

My sympathies  go out to Mr Rudd because I believe he is genuinely trying to do something about the great holes and needs in the health care system through his national hospital reforms.    Again it is not claiming to have the funds to be able to fix every single aspect of the system eg.  including aged care,  mental health etc,  but at least he and his team are trying to make a start .  eg.  to do something about the shortage of nurses and beds in certain hospitals.

North West Rail LinkKristine Kenealy

It is evident that the Rudd Federal Government and Kenealy NSW State Governments are doing their best to provide the necessary infrastructure for the future growth of Australia as a whole.  This includes the upgrades to the present health care system,  schools and transport .    One of the reasons the Metro project was scrapped is that those funds are needed to provide the much needed train line to alleviate the traffic congestion for workers travelling from North Western Sydney to the city,  and other parts of the Sydney Metropolitan area.    There are already frequently running buses every 10 minutes or so in the city area as well as the mono rail so they do not need another Metro in this region.

Karyn Paluzzano

It is evident that the media loves to pounce on stories of MP corruption and misconduct in the ALP ranks.  Such behaviour indeed should not be tolerated in any level of leadership or government. She is now being investigated and dealt with accordingly as cases like this should be.    It is highly unfortunate when cases like this arise.    This occurs because each one of us are faced with personal choices each day –  whether to do right or wrong in every situation.  Do any of us have a perfectly sinless record in our past lives?  Only Jesus lived a totally sinless life on this earth.  Each one of us are open to temptation to go against God’s laws or our better judgment.    As Jesus said to his onlookers in John 8:7 ” Let he who is without sin,  cast the first stone”.

However, just because one MP is found guilty of misconduct does not  necessarily mean that this attitude applies to the whole  government department or party  as well.   To put it another way :-  if you owned a small business like a dress shop and you found that one of your employees were secretly stealing dresses and money from the till,  does this mean that your whole shop and your associated franchises are corrupt and dishonest as well?  Does it mean you being the boss are guilty as well?  Of course not.      In the same way,  the general public have to be more discerning in their judgement of what they see in the media and the inferences that can be implied from media reports.   Just because there is one bad egg does not necessarily mean that the whole carton is rotten.

As another example :  there is a famous Christian speaker who has a very reputable organisation for bible teaching.  She shared in her talks once that she found in her organisation of hundreds of staff,  there was one employee who was caught viewing pornography on the internet during work hours.   This was unacceptable conduct for her organisation, so eventually he had to find work elsewhere.  However this speaker who was the leader of her organisation took the appropriate disciplinary action.  Because there was one worker in her firm that was doing the wrong thing,  it did not necessarily reflect the character of her whole organisation;  herself as a leader or the strict policies and beliefs that her firm was built on.    The same thing can apply to the case of the former Penrith State Labor MP Karyn Paluzzano.  Just because she was guilty of misconduct does not mean that this also applies to the Premier or Prime Minister of her party.

Mining Tax

It can be said that Kevin Rudd can be a highly intelligent person in terms of his policies and ideas.  Being the former political adviser for Wayne Goss in Queensland,  Rudd was largely the brains behind this premier’s political victories in his day.  I believe Kevin Rudd also has a genuine desire to make life better for the Australian people,  especially the vulnerable and underprivileged in society.  He just needs more practice in trying to communicate these policies in a more simple and easy to understand way so that it will sound convincing to the general public.     Let’s face it no one is good at everything.   I believe the voting public need to give Rudd a chance to develop these other skills of negotiation,  communication and process,  so that his intelligent ideas  and desire to achieve ultimate good and betterment for the Australian people can be realised. This would be preferable to  endorsing someone who knows how to speak and sell in a clever self seeking way but whose policies are self seeking,  total crap or non existent.

Perhaps a large sector of the public are against the mining tax because they hold personal shares in mining and hence do not wish to see their value decrease.     However people need to realise that this tax is a means by which the government can raise funds to help pay the budget deficit, which occurred in order  to alleviate the global financial crisis.  Funds also need to be raised to   help pay for necessary infrastructure to fund important services for the Australian community eg.  the  hospital reforms,  disability and aged care services,  schools ,  transport etc.  Basically Rudd is just wanting the mining billionaires to “share some of the joy around” with the rest of us.  The fact is, ultimately greed does not make anyone happy in the long term.  Have we not yet learned our lesson from Wall Street recently?  See Luke  12:15-21 below:-

Luke 12:15-21

15Then he (Jesus) said to them, “Watch out! Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”

16And he told them this parable: “The ground of a certain rich man produced a good crop. 17He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’

18“Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store all my grain and my goods. 19And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.” ‘

20“But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’

21“This is how it will be with anyone who stores up things for himself but is not rich toward God.”


Also a problem with greed is that if a person is not content with what he or she already has, they still won’t necessarily be content with more – because once they get more – they will still want a bit more and a bit more after that.    The secret is not trying to attain more and acquire more wealth, but to first learn to be content with what you already have.  This then halts the vicious destructive cycle which can ultimately destroy us.     “Yet true godliness with contentment is itself great wealth.”  1 Timothy 6:6  (New Living Translation 2007).

No “Magic Pudding” Economics

With all the needs in our society including the need for health reform the money has to come from somewhere.  Until that time,  some health care reforms may not be able to proceed as yet.

It is well to remember that the media is mainly in the business of reporting bad news,  because for some strange reason,  in western culture, this is often what sells more newspapers and boosts TV ratings .     If you visit your local ALP branch meeting you may discover more good news.

Social Justice – Helping the Marginalised

Here are some examples:-

1.  Recently the Rudd Government passed a Bill for an 18 week paid parental leave scheme for working mothers.

2.  ALP representatives will be writing to Mr Rudd to put forward his  bill for climate change for Senate approval for after the next election

3.  Largest increase in funding for disability services ie 9.8%

4.  Aboriginal leaders shared that they appreciated the acknowledgement of their people as the original owners of this land at the start of all council meetings.    This motion will be put forward in the future.

I choose to support the present incumbent government because with all their imperfections and faults (which one of us is perfect anyway?),  their underlying foundation and policy is to help support and advocate for the vulnerable in society –  because more often than not these groups have no one else to speak for them eg.  the disabled,  the homeless,  the aged,  disabled,  ethnic minorities,  women,  the poor,  those who cannot afford a private education but need public schools,  low paid workers etc.

I believe Kevin Rudd has experience of doing it tough in a working class family having at one time lived with his family in the back of a car as a child.  This maybe partly why he has chosen a political destiny and seeks to correct the wrongs in our society and instigate improvements  for the betterment of all Australians.

There are many areas of great suffering in society that need to be addressed, and feel that the ALP does a better job in advocating for these.  Eg,  the poor,  the disabled,  ethnic minorities,  women in the workforce,  abused children,  aboriginal welfare etc.  Sometimes only when a person has been in one of these vulnerable groups, that they can truly understand their plight and see the need for the voice of the ALP to speak for these groups.  It is the ALP who lobby for their rights and help to provide funds for important services   necessary for their survival.  And if you feel they are still not doing enough for these groups, please don’t be fooled into believing that the Opposition  Party will  do more –  because their basic philosophy is “minimal government intervention”  since they rely on market forces to work things out by themselves .  In other words their policy is to do as little as possible.

The Christian Vote

There may be Christian who focus on abortion and gay rights as the basis for their voting.   However I believe there are many more areas of greater suffering in society that need to be addressed, and feel that the ALP does a better job in advocating for these.  Eg,  the poor,  the disabled,  ethnic minorities,  women in the workforce,  abused children,  aboriginal welfare etc.

I still support the Christian Democratic Party to barrack for stopping the legalization of abortion and discouraging homosexual relationships.  The reason is that even though many non Christians may not follow these principals, they will still benefit from them since they are God’s laws created for our own well being.   I would myself propose these measures in the ALP,  however I know no one would listen to me or support me.  This is so because the Labor Party is about accepting all minority groups and all marginalized people, and opposes any sort of discrimination.

(Don’t quote me on this and this is not from the bible), but on the other side of the argument one could argue that on these issues we cannot tell non Christians to stop having abortions or stop homosexual relations until they actually become Christians.   For instance when you first build a friendship with a non believer and start evangelizing to them, you can’t tell them first off that they shouldn’t be engaging in homosexual relationships or having abortions. The reason is that they are not Christians yet and hence have no inner obligation to follow these principals as yet.  This argument could be why Christians in the ALP have to allow some of this anti-Christian legislation.

Abortion and Gay Rights are not easy issues to deal with as a Christian member of the ALP.  However I support  the CDP in campaigning against these if they see this as part of their role.

A problem also with the gay issue is that those who choose such a lifestyle can probably turn from it straight away.  Others are gay due to child abuse or abusive family relationships.  For this second group, only the healing power of Jesus can restore them – and they cannot access this fully until they become Christian believers.** Hence perhaps Christians have to put just as much effort in trying to establish evangelical ministries to reach out to these people with a balance of love and not just political condemnation.  Part of this Christian ministry has to include an attitude like that of Paul in 1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 – “As apostles of Christ we could have been a burden to you, 7but we were gentle among you, like a mother caring for her little children. 8We loved you so much that we were delighted to share with you not only the gospel of God but our lives as well, because you had become so dear to us.”  We will not influence gay people to repent only through political condemnation”. Instead they are hurting people as well who need Christ’s agape love and sacrifice.  Perhaps Christians who have been gay in their former life before their healing, could minister to this group very effectively.

It terms of my support,  I just don’t believe it is fair to only vote for the CDP (who give all their preferences to the Liberal Party),  because of the gay and abortion issue, when there are so many other minority groups in society that need help which the ALP advocates for.  Eg.  Aborigines,  ethnic minorities ,  the disabled,  the poor,  women,  the aged etc who all continue to suffer constant discrimination.

PS.  Why don’t  Christians try to lobby for these 2 issues within the ALP?  Perhaps they would get a lot further with a major party not just a minor party.  Someone would need to do their proper research to expose the benefits to people and the community. It’s just an idea

**  Christian Ministries that help to provide healing for homosexual issues are :-

Benefits of the Mining Tax

June 11, 2010

It’s good to be informed about the true benefits of the Mining Tax and not just base our assumptions on a lot of negative media hype. To do so just click on the following links:-

New Mining Tax

June 10, 2010

Please see:-